A boy who starts coming to Western Biological because his mother and uncles are abusive and his father is dead. Before long, Frankie develops a fondness of Doc, who cares for him by buying him clothes, curing him of lice, and cutting his hair. In fact, Doc even lets Frankie help out around the laboratory, though there are certain tasks the boy struggles to complete because he is mentally disabled in some way (the nature of Frankie’s cognitive challenges are never fully articulated in Cannery Row, though Steinbeck makes it clear that the boy is at a disadvantage because his surrounding community fails to accommodate his intellectual differences). When Frankie hears about the surprise birthday party Mack and “the boys” are throwing for Doc, he tries to steal a beautiful onyx clock, which he wants to give to Doc as a token of his appreciation. Unfortunately, though, he is arrested and detained, and when Doc visits the jail, the police officers inform him that now that they have a “mental report” on the boy, they are going to put him “away.” Hearing this, Doc asks Frankie why he stole the clock, and Frankie says, “I love you”—a response that prompts Doc to run out of the jail because he understands that there’s nothing more he can do to help Frankie.
Frankie Character Timeline in Cannery Row
The timeline below shows where the character Frankie appears in Cannery Row. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.