I’m finally getting to finish this novel, having sidetracked myself for the better part of a week or more in analyzing it. I find, having ventured a few chapters further that the episode of the planning and the party for Doc has had a profound effect on the characters, and must say that I am glad at least that I recognized it as the story, although feel now that I perhaps should have read the book through before focusing on it to write the essay (which I’m now calling "done," even as I feel it could have been less unwieldy had I not jumped so quickly into it).
There are two chapters in particular that Steinbeck has slid in among the pages of the story that need to be delved into a bit deeper. They are metaphorical, they are to be pondered; they are meant to offer commentary and inspire thinking about the story in a way other than strictly narrative. I believe that the story is both better understood and expanded by these additions, and will need to complete the book before I can go back and apply them. They seemed to be narrator input that came of understanding that which we could not be completely aware of without having read through the scenes presented to the characters of Cannery Row, and yet I’m sure that they reveal a knowledge of man himself and his world not completely related to Mack and Doc and Lee Chong and the others exclusively.
Meanwhile, I find Steinbeck’s voice and style thoroughly absorbing, pleasant and skilled, much as in the way of Cormac McCarthy where character takes on the burden of the human race and is of primary importance to the story in revelation of human nature and its action and reaction to the world regardless of circumstance and time.