Chapter 32 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 504

Chapter 32 is the final installment of Cannery Row . The party is long over. Doc struggles to awaken and return to reality as glimpses of the previous night slowly come into focus. He sees the new quilt on his bed, a birthday present from Dora and the girls, lovingly...

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Chapter 32 is the final installment of Cannery Row. The party is long over. Doc struggles to awaken and return to reality as glimpses of the previous night slowly come into focus. He sees the new quilt on his bed, a birthday present from Dora and the girls, lovingly stitched for him out of remnants of their silk dresses. There is lipstick on his beard. 

Less pleasant sights soon follow. Broken dishes are strewn about the floor. Wine has been spilled, seeping and staining where it has not been wiped up. Books have tumbled off the shelves and lie splayed out "like heavy fallen butterflies." Spent firecracker shells have left their red paper carcasses lying around. 

The mess in the kitchen is disheartening as well. Plates with congealed grease from the fried steaks are stacked here and there and everywhere. Cigarettes have been stamped out on the floor, their butts lying in the spots where shoes extinguished them. The entire laboratory is a mix of smells, "wine and whiskey and perfume." 

Doc manages to prop himself up and look out the broken window. The town is quiet; there is no hint of the mayhem that had been raging just a few hours earlier. Everything is back to normal on Cannery Row. He sees that the door stands open over at the Malloys' boiler. Dora's is quiet and the door to the Palace Flophouse is closed. 

Finally out of bed, Doc knows he must inspect the damage to his laboratory more closely. But first, he decides to take a shower and put on fresh clothes. He heads over to Lee Chong's.

Lee's shop is closed but when he sees who is at the door, he opens it for his friend. Lee's eyes are a little red and puffy, like almost everyone else who is waking up on Cannery Row this morning. 

Lee asks Doc whether he had a good time at the party. "Good time!" Doc enthusiastically responds, and then he heads back home with a quart of Lee's beer. 

Doc makes himself a sandwich and sits down with his beer. He listens to music that is playing only in his head. After he is finished, he goes to the kitchen and begins the lonely work of cleaning up. He clears all the dirty dishes out of the sink first, then fills it with soapy water. As the dishes are soaking, he unlocks the room where he had wisely put his favorite records for safekeeping and puts one on the turntable. He washes carefully and quietly so as not to make any noise that might clash with the music that is filling the room. 

The dishes done, Doc picks up a book that has fallen to the floor and sits with it on his bed. He begins to read from a translation of the ancient Sanskrit poem "Black Marigolds," a story about remembrance of love and loss. The words bring tears to his eyes. In the background, rats scramble and rattlesnakes lie quiet in their cages. 

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Chapter 31 Summary