Cannery Row

by

John Steinbeck

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Hazel Character Analysis

A man who lives in the Palace Flophouse with Mack and “the boys.” Hazel comes from a poor family of eight children, and his mother named him after her great aunt, who supposedly had life insurance. By the time Hazel himself was born, his mother had already made up her mind and refused to change his name. After attending grammar school and reform school, Hazel emerged “innocent” and rather unintelligent, though he masks this by asking engaged questions. Indeed, this is what he does when he spends time collecting starfish with Doc, peppering him with questions and finding himself disappointed when Doc manages to dodge them. When Mack, Hazel, and “the boys” want to throw Doc a party for the second time, Hazel suggests that they should do it to celebrate his birthday, a suggestion that pleases Mack. Of course, Doc doesn’t tell them his actual birthday, but the birthday party is a success nonetheless.

Hazel Quotes in Cannery Row

The Cannery Row quotes below are all either spoken by Hazel or refer to Hazel. 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 6 Quotes

Doc swung his heavy sack of starfish to the ground and stood panting a little. “Nuts?” he asked. “Oh, yes, I guess so. Nuts about the same amount we are, only in a different way.”

Such a thing had never occurred to Hazel. He looked upon himself as a crystal pool of clarity and on his life as a troubled glass of misunderstood virtue. Doc’s last statement had outraged him a little.

Related Characters: Doc (speaker), Hazel, Henri
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

“The remarkable thing,” said Doc, “isn’t that they put their tails up in the air—the really incredibly remarkable thing is that we find it remarkable. We can only use ourselves as yardsticks. If we did something as inexplicable and strange we’d probably be praying—so maybe they’re praying.”

Related Characters: Doc (speaker), Hazel
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 30 Quotes

Hazel was so taken by the sound of the words that he had not listened to their meaning. But a little world sadness had slipped over all of them. Every one was remembering a lost love, everyone a call.

Mack said, “Jesus, that’s pretty. Reminds me of a dame—” and he let it pass. They filled the wine glasses and became quiet. The party was slipping away in sweet sadness.

Related Characters: Mack (speaker), Doc, Hazel
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Cannery Row LitChart as a printable PDF.
Cannery Row PDF

Hazel Character Timeline in Cannery Row

The timeline below shows where the character Hazel 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
One day, Doc collects starfish with Hazel, one of the residents of the Palace Flophouse. Hazel loves hearing people speak, relishing “the... (full context)
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
Loneliness, Melancholy, and Happiness Theme Icon
Reality, Randomness, and Disorder Theme Icon
Hazel and Doc talk about Henri, who is building himself a boat. “He’s got it all... (full context)
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
Reality, Randomness, and Disorder Theme Icon
On the way back to the laboratory, Hazel notices stink bugs on the ground. “What they got their asses up in the air... (full context)
Chapter 7
Loneliness, Melancholy, and Happiness Theme Icon
When Mack, Hazel, Eddie, Hughie, and Jones first move into the Palace Flophouse, they see it as “little... (full context)
Chapter 13
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
...day,” he says. “Just kept it overnight and then give it back to him.” Interjecting, Hazel points out that Doc loves parties, but Mack says, “I don’t know, I’d just like... (full context)
Chapter 23
Vice and Virtue Theme Icon
Loneliness, Melancholy, and Happiness Theme Icon
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
...are ashamed of themselves. Hughie and Jones even start working at the Hediondo Cannery, and Hazel picks a fight and purposefully loses it just to “feel a little better.” Worst of... (full context)
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
...becomes sick, and nothing Mack and “the boys” do seems to revive her. As such, Hazel and Jones go to Doc’s and ask for help. When he comes to the Palace... (full context)
Chapter 29
Loneliness, Melancholy, and Happiness Theme Icon
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
...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,... (full context)
Chapter 30
Loneliness, Melancholy, and Happiness Theme Icon
Kindness, Empathy, and Friendship Theme Icon
...poem about lost love, memory, and the past. When he stops, almost everyone is crying. “Hazel was so taken by the sound of the words that he had not listened to... (full context)