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How is Cannery Row like a tidepool - Essay Example

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The California coast around Monterey is famed for its unique and beautiful tidepools. The uneven, rocky shore has many spaces where there are small depressions or pits that are below the waterline at high tide, and above it when the tide is out. These hollows remain full of water in the hours between tides, and whatever little bits of sea life happened to be in them when the water receded remain there…
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How is Cannery Row like a tidepool
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"How is Cannery Row like a tidepool"

Download file to see previous pages When the tide comes in again, these creatures will scatter and forage for food elsewhere, but for the duration of the pool’s existence, they are close neighbors. John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row is a portrait of a place in a time, a collection of vignettes and subplots that gradually cohere into a rough narrative of local vagrants trying to do something nice for the local scientist. If it lacked even that fig leaf of a plot, though, it would still stand as a beautiful and moving evocation of Monterey, California in the early 1940s, when the Depression had declined elsewhere but that sweet wartime money had yet to wash up on Monterey’s shore. In this place, a motley collection of characters are thrown together, each of them making their way as best they can with what limited resources are available, living in a mutual web of dependence that lets them all continue to get by. Nobody in the story has a whole lot, but between them all, each person seems to manage to have just enough. Steinbeck’s moral stance on charity, kindness, and the necessity of doing right by one’s fellow man is firm enough that if you shelve one of his books next to one of Ayn Rand’s, they both explode. ...
The wider world exists, but far away. Doc receives orders from distant cities and mails them out, Lee Chong hides out in San Francisco once in a while, the nearby town of New Monterey can be glimpsed here and there in the narrative, but for the most part the characters have no outside resources; in this tiny place called Monterey they are all in it together. The Monterey of the novel is a place where the tide went out a long time ago and has yet to come back in. The Great Depression has not yet ended for the characters, and even the relatively successful Lee Chong exists at the leading edge of a wave of unpaid debts that never quite breaks into bankruptcy. As the narration puts it, “maybe his wealth was entirely in unpaid bills.” Dora, who runs the local brothel called the Bear Flag, probably has the most pure liquid assets of anyone in the story, but she manages to retain surprisingly little of her substantial income, instead funneling it into the community via endless charity. When the flu strikes Monterey in the middle of her busiest season on record, she and her girls become the nursing corps of the entire community, bringing soup and solace to the bedridden and ill all over town, including people who prefer to pretend her business doesn’t exist. The similarities between the community and the tidepool are many, but the central one is this: it is a very small ecosystem full of beings that did not ask to be clustered together like this. There is not a lot of anything to go around, and nobody can leave, at least not until the tide comes back in, and as observed, the tide has been out from Monterey for a long time. It is ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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