Cannery Row


John Steinbeck

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A boy from Salinas. One morning when Andy is visiting Cannery Row, he sees the old “chinaman” walking through the streets. Although no one ever bothers this old man, Andy feels he must taunt him in order to preserve his own “self-respect,” so he shouts a racist rhyme at him. In response, the old man turns around and looks at Andy, his two eyes merging and giving the boy a glimpse of a lonely, empty world. This experience makes Andy feel as if he’s the only person on earth, and so he closes his eyes. When he opens them, the old man is gone, and no one ever taunts him again.

Andy Quotes in Cannery Row

The Cannery Row quotes below are all either spoken by Andy or refer to Andy. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Cannery Row published in 2002.
Chapter 4 Quotes

The old man stopped and turned. Andy stopped. The deep-brown eyes looked at Andy and the thin corded lips moved. What happened then Andy was never able either to explain or to forget. For the eyes spread out until there was no Chinaman. And then it was one eye—one huge brown eye as big as a church door. Andy looked through the shiny trans­parent brown door and through it he saw a lonely country­side, flat for miles but ending against a row of fantastic mountains shaped like cows’ and dogs’ heads and tents and mushrooms. There was low coarse grass on the plain and here and there a little mound. And a small animal like a woodchuck sat on each mound. And the loneliness—the desolate cold aloneness of the landscape made Andy whimper because there wasn’t anybody at all in the world and he was left. Andy shut his eyes so he wouldn’t have to see it any more and when he opened them, he was in Cannery Row and the old Chinaman was just flap-flapping between Western Biological and the Hediondo Cannery. Andy was the only boy who ever did that and he never did it again.

Related Characters: The Old “Chinaman”, Andy
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Cannery Row LitChart as a printable PDF.
Cannery Row PDF

Andy Character Timeline in Cannery Row

The timeline below shows where the character Andy appears in Cannery Row. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
...him coming and going, but they never “taunt him.” One day, however, a boy named Andy who’s visiting Monterey decides he must yell at the man in order to maintain his... (full context)
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
Loneliness, Melancholy, and Happiness Theme Icon
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
The old man turns, and Andy watches his two eyes “spread out until” they merge and engulf the man’s entire body.... (full context)