Cannery Row


John Steinbeck

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Cannery Row: Chapter 29 Summary & Analysis

By the time evening comes on October 27th, Doc is ready for the party. While he waits, Mack and “the boys” prepare to walk over to the laboratory. When Hazel asks how they should transport the cage of 21 cats to Western Biological, Mack says, “We won’t. Remember how it was with the frogs. No, we’ll just tell Doc about them.” Meanwhile, Dora prepares to leave the Bear Flag, where she has instituted a rotating schedule for the night so that all of the prostitutes will be able to attend the party at some point without leaving the brothel empty. “Over at the laboratory,” Steinbeck writes, “Doc had a little whiskey after his beer. He was feeling a little mellow. It seemed a nice thing to him that they would give him a party.” As he waits, he puts on “sentimental” music and sits there feeling “sad.”
In the last moments before Doc’s party, he feels a mixture of gratitude and melancholy. On the one hand, he feels “sad” while he sits and waits for the party, which he knows will be raucous and possibly harmful to his property. On the other hand, he recognizes that it’s “a nice thing” that his friends want to celebrate him. This is what makes Doc such an emotionally intelligent person, as he is capable of embodying multiple feelings at once.
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