Cannery Row Chapter 21 Summary
by John Steinbeck

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Chapter 21 Summary

Chapter 21 concerns the aftermath of Mack and the boys' disastrous party for Doc at Western Biological Laboratories. 

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The lab is now quiet. Rats and snakes are in their cages. Sea life still sits in aquariums that managed to survive the carnage of the party. Machines make whirring and humming noises. It is the very early in the morning, "the hour of the pearl," where magic sometimes happens. It is the hour before the world must brace itself for the day. 

Lee Chong emerges in this predawn hour, lugging out his trash for collection. The bouncer at the Bear Flag surveys the street and scratches his large belly. The steady and plaintive barks of sea lions penetrate the relative stillness. And in this hour, Doc is returning. He parks his car in front of his lab. 

With great fatigue, Doc pushes open his broken door and is met with the wake of the party's destruction. He takes in the full measure of the horror, from the broken windows to the busted record player to the burned and greasy kitchen floor. 

Doc has reached the limit of his tolerance and is filled with rage. He tries to play a record and hears only an unsteady hiss and becomes even more angry. At that moment, Mack knocks on the sagging door. 

Mack tries to explain but only manages to get out, "Well, I and the boys—". These are the only words Mack can say, for in the next instant, Doc's fist connects with his mouth. 

Mack does not try to defend himself. He sits down on the floor. He believes he deserves everything Doc has to dish out. But Doc wants him to resist. He commands that Mack get up, that he fight back. Mack refuses. Doc hits him again, hard, and breaks Mack's teeth. Still, Mack will not fight. "I got it coming," he says, and braces for another blow. 

Seeing that Mack will never fight back and having expelled most of his rage, Doc can only moan and call him a...

(The entire section is 521 words.)