Chapter 27 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 593

Chapter 27 begins with a reminder of the mythical names the author has bestowed on Mack and the boys: the Virtues, the Beatitudes, and the Beauties. 

The boys are sitting around the Palace Flophouse and discussing the planning of Doc's new party. October 27, the day Doc has falsely told...

(The entire section contains 593 words.)

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Chapter 27 begins with a reminder of the mythical names the author has bestowed on Mack and the boys: the Virtues, the Beatitudes, and the Beauties. 

The boys are sitting around the Palace Flophouse and discussing the planning of Doc's new party. October 27, the day Doc has falsely told them was his birthday, has been settled on but the location has not. Mack says he had considered holding the party at their place, but it would be impossible to do so without losing the element of surprise. 

There are a number of advantages to having a repeat of the party at Doc's own place, Mack reasons. First of all, Doc likes his laboratory. Second, he has music to play for the guests. Mack threatens to "kick the hell" out of anyone who tries to mess with the phonograph this time. All agree that these are good reasons to have the party at Doc's. No decorations this time, they decide, just a real party with plenty of liquor. 

Word spreads quickly around Cannery Row; even though no invitations are issued, everyone knows and everyone plans on attending. The fact that the occasion is to honor Doc on his birthday is especially exciting, and plans are made for gifts. Dora has noticed the poor state of the blanket Doc uses on his bed and resolves that she and the girls will stitch Doc a new and beautiful quilt. The patches are made from leftover silk from their dresses, so the quilt is both lovely and brightly colored. Lee Chong decides that a very long string of firecrackers and a bag of China lily bulbs are the perfect gifts. Sam Malloy, a collector of antiques, settles on giving one of his most treasured pieces to Doc: the rod and piston from a 1916 Chalmers automobile. Mack and the boys do not have Dora's skills nor Sam's resources, but they do know that Doc always needs cats. They decide that twenty-five felines will be a most welcomed gift. 

Even Gay, a former flophouse resident, sitting in a jail cell in Salinas, hears about the party. He manages to convince the sheriff to let him go for the night and gets two dollars from the man for round-trip bus fare. 

Henri is inspired by the occasion to try a new art form he has recently discovered: pincushion art. He works tirelessly creating a huge, intricate, and colorful pincushion for his friend. 

Even though the whole town is buzzing with excitement and plans, it takes Doc a long time to realize something is afoot. He only begins to piece together the odd behavior and comments he has heard around town when he is at a bar. A drunk whom Doc does not know asks him whether he is going to the party. 

Doc has a mixture of feelings about the discovery. In one way, he is touched that so many people want to honor him. But in another way, he is fearful, as the last disaster is still very fresh in his mind. 

Knowing the people of his town too well, Doc does not try to stop the party. Instead, he begins to make his home as destruction-proof as possible. He moves breakable equipment to the back room. He safely stows away his favorite records. He also knows that the revelers will not have thought about food, so he goes to the market to stock up on steaks. He buys more alcohol, too, as no one will bring enough. His surprise party is already costing him a good deal of money. 

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