Cannery Row Chapter 25 Summary
by John Steinbeck

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Chapter 25 Summary

Chapter 25 finds Mack mulling over the possibilities of a new party for Doc and reviewing exactly how the first one got so out of hand. Even though no one will admit to being superstitious, there is nevertheless a widespread belief among most people that once things go bad, they stay that way for a time, despite any attempts to alter the course of bad luck. Similarly, once things begin to take a turn for the better, a string of good luck follows. No one believes it, yet everyone accepts these things to be nonetheless true. 

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No one is more glad to see the good times start again than Mack, but everyone is sensing the change in fortunes. Doc has a run of success with women. Sam Malloy makes his wife happy by planting flowers outside the boiler. Business is booming at the Bear Flag. Even Darling, the pointer dog at the Palace Flophouse, has adopted a new attitude. Since the boys never house-trained her, she trains herself and now goes outside to do her business. 

The plans for the new party are coming together and everyone in town knows about it. It would not be a "sudden thing." The idea "grew like a pupa in a cocoon" in everyone's imaginations. 

Mack, having thought for so long about what had gone wrong with the first party, is determined to not make the same mistakes again. For obvious reasons, he knows he cannot tell Doc a new celebration is in the works. It must be a surprise party but he wants to fix on a date. Hazel suggests a birthday party; Mack thinks that is just the occasion to celebrate. The only problem is that no one has a clue of the date. 

Mack rejects asking Doc outright when his birthday is for fear he will catch on. Mack decides to just go over to Western Biological once for a sort of reconnaissance mission; he will see what angle might be used to get the information on the sly. Hazel wants to go with him, but Mack says two of them showing up might arouse suspicion.

Once inside at Doc's, Mack hits upon a scheme to find out when Doc's birthday is. As the two men talk, Mack mentions that Hazel has become interested in astrology. Slyly, he asks for the date of Doc's birthday so that Hazel can map his chart. 

Doc, who has known Mack and his ways for years, answers not with his real date, December 18, but with October 27. Delighted, Mack makes his excuses and happily heads home.