Cannery Row

by

John Steinbeck

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Cannery Row can help.

Gay Character Analysis

A man who moves into the Palace Flophouse with Mack and “the boys” because he wants to get away from his wife. Normally, Gay’s wife simply calls the police and gets him arrested, but she soon realizes he has come to enjoy spending time in jail. As a result, she no longer calls the police when she’s angry at him. Instead, she starts beating him when he’s asleep. Because of this, Gay moves to the flophouse, where he lounges with Mack and the rest of the crew. When the gang borrows Lee Chong’s truck to go on the frog-collecting expedition, it is Gay who fixes the vehicle, since he’s a talented mechanic. Unfortunately, though, the truck eventually breaks down on the side of the road, and when Gay goes for help, he ends up getting sidetracked by a number of shenanigans that eventually lead him to the Salinas jail, where he gets along with the sheriff. Later, when Gay hears about the second party Mack and “the boys” are throwing for Doc, he convinces the sheriff to let him attend.
Get the entire Cannery Row LitChart as a printable PDF.
Cannery Row PDF

Gay Character Timeline in Cannery Row

The timeline below shows where the character Gay appears in Cannery Row. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
...silence, Doc asks Hazel how things are going at the Flophouse, and Hazel says that Gay has just moved in because his wife hits him. Doc points out that Gay’s wife... (full context)
Chapter 9
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
...gas. “No,” Doc says, because he has “fallen into this before.” “Once he had financed Gay to go for turtles,” Steinbeck writes. “He financed him for two weeks and at the... (full context)
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
...give me this order for gas to get them. I can’t let Doc down. Now Gay is a good mechanic. If he fixes your truck and puts it in good shape,... (full context)
Chapter 11
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
...has seen a lot of use. Although “any one of the boys” could fix it, Gay is indisputably the best mechanic, so he does the majority of the work, at one... (full context)
Reality, Randomness, and Disorder Theme Icon
...solar system of stars.” It is with this extensive knowledge of the Model T that Gay is easily able to diagnose the problem when the carburetor gives out and the car... (full context)
Reality, Randomness, and Disorder Theme Icon
“Oh, the infinity of possibility!” Steinbeck writes, explaining how circumstances lead Gay to jail. First, the car that picks him up while he’s hitchhiking breaks down, but... (full context)
Chapter 27
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
...cats, and so they devise a plan to catch them in a cage trap. Even Gay hears about the party from his place in the Salinas jail and makes a compromise... (full context)