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Activities

Cannery Row in the 1930s and 1940s | Cannery Row Memory | 1, 2, 3 ... Action! | Quiz Race

What was Cannery Row Like in the 1930s and 1940s?1946 Photo of Pacific Biological Laboratories on Ocean View Avenue (800 Cannery Row) in Monterey, CA

Preparation
Difficulty Level:

Moderate

Time:

Moderate

Materials:

Varies based on project.

Description

For the past 50 years, California has been known as a place of wealth and prosperity.  Starting broadly, research the 1930’s.  What was life like?  What kind of appliances existed during the time period?  What kinds of activities were considered entertainment?  After learning about the 1930s, research more specifically what California was like in the 1930s.  
After your research is completed, choose what you would like to do with your newfound information:

Create a timeline

What significant events occurred during the 1930s?  Create a timeline on a piece of paper, poster board, or on a PowerPoint that illustrates significant events of the 1930s.  You can narrow your timeline by focusing on California during the 1930s specifically.

Write a short story

What was life like during the 1930s?  Be creative and write a short story that illustrates 1930s life. 

Write an alternate ending

If you didn’t like the way that Cannery Row ended, write and alternate ending.  Using your knowledge of what would have and would not have been possible during the 1930s, write an alternate ending that could have actually happened.

Trivia cards

After learning about 1930s culture, pick out some of your favorite actors, actresses, movies, or fashions and create trivia cards.  You can make them single answer or multiple choice. back to top


Cannery Row Memory

Preparation
Difficulty Level:

Moderate

Time:

Moderate

Learning Type:

Visual

Materials:
  • Cards (either cut up cardboard or a deck of cards that can be marked up and pasted on)
  • Colored pencils/markers (optional)
  • Computer/printer (optional, but highly recommended)
Description

Cannery Row memory can be played the same way as normal memory.  You have the option of using Cannery Row related words, pictures, or phrases as the items for matching.   Put the group of cards face down on the floor in a square or rectangle shape and keep turning over cards until you have a match.  The memory cards can be created from scratch using construction paper and colored pencils/markers, or you can use a normal deck of cards and paste information over the numbered side. back to top


1,2,3… Action!

Preparation
Difficulty:

Medium

Time:

Moderate

Learning Type:

Audio

Materials:

The activity doesn’t require any materials other than the book, unless you choose to use props.

Description

You can choose a piece of dialogue from Cannery Row that you can perform.  A monologue by Doc is a good choice if you choose to do this activity by yourself.  
If you choose to do this activity in a group and have a video camera available, act out several parts of Cannery Row that summarize the story and see if you and your group mates can create a mini-movie.back to top


Quiz Race

Preparation
Difficulty:

Medium

Time:

Moderate

Learning Type:

Audio/Hands On

Materials:
  • Paper
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Questions (with correct answers)
  • Timer (or person to keep time)
Description

If you choose to do this activity by yourself, create a list of questions after reading Cannery Row or use some of the short answer study questions below.  Be careful to select questions that you don’t already have memorized. 
Set a timer and see how long it takes you to answer the questions.  You can also ‘race’ yourself by setting the timer for a specific period of time and trying to finish before the timer sounds.  
If you choose to complete this activity in a group, designate a person to keep time or set a timer.  You can hand out the list of questions to those participating in the activity and tell them to answer the questions as quickly as possible, or you can have the person who is keeping time read the questions out loud. 
The individual who answers the list of questions in the least amount of time with the largest number of correct answers wins the quiz race.back to top


 Short Answer Study Questions

  1. Steinbeck describes Cannery Row as “a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream” (1). Through describing Cannery Row in intangible terms such as “a quality of light” or “a tone” what is he saying about the experience of Cannery Row? 

  2. When describing the inhabitants of Cannery Row, Steinbeck writes that “[i]t’s inhabitants are, as the man once said, ‘whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,’ by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, ‘Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,’ and he would have meant the same thing” (1). How does Steinbeck present this duality of Cannery Row’s inhabitants throughout the story?

  3. Why are Mack and the boys described as “the Virtues, the Graces, the Beauties of the hurried mangled craziness of Monterey?” (14)

  4. Because Dora makes her money from something illegal, Steinbeck writes that she “must be twice as law abiding as anyone else” and that she must be “especially philanthropic” (16). How does Steinbeck flip the role of a typical Madame through Dora’s character?

  5. Describe how the environment of Cannery Row is effected by its inhabitants, and how in turn the inhabitants are affected by the Row. Does it build community? Particular characteristics in people? Provide examples from the text.

  6. How does Steinbeck portray truth and lies in Cannery Row? Nearly every character is hiding some kind of secret, yet they are still portrayed as essentially good people. Does this mean that Steinbeck is advocating mistruths, or that he realizes people are imperfect and it is therefore better to judge motive than action?

  7. Why is the conflict between Mack and Doc important? How does it show a different side of each of their characters?

  8. What it the significance of music in the book? Doc is constantly listening to music, and “[m]usic sounded in Doc’s ears” when he found the young girl floating dead beneath the water. Tie the events where music is given prominence together and find the commonality.back to top


Essay Questions

  1. Describe and expound upon at least three ways in which Doc is the backbone of Cannery Row.

  2. In Cannery Row, nearly every individual in the Row is somehow indebted to Doc; how is this fact magnified in the actions of people when it comes to the second party thrown for Doc? Cite specific examples to show the gratefulness and respect that the people of Cannery Row have for Doc. 

  3. Discuss Steinbeck’s portrayal of women in Cannery Row; does he portray them as strong, weak, smart, needy? How does his portrayal of women differ from other authors of his day? Dora, Gay’s wife, the “Captain’s” wife, the girls from the Bear Flag, Mrs. Malloy, and Mrs. Talbot are just a few women to consider. 

  4. Describe how the environment of Cannery Row is effected by its inhabitants, and how in turn the inhabitants are affected by the Row.

  5. When Doc discovers a deceased young girl (101) floating gently beneath the ocean when he is out collecting, how does he react? What does his reaction say about his character? Why didn’t he take the reward that he could have received for reporting the girl as dead, even though he didn’t have a lot of money?

  6. How does Steinbeck use death in Cannery Row; does he treat it with respect, flippancy, or a mix of both? How does he use death in Cannery Row to ultimately expound on the fragility of life? 

  7. Steinbeck portrays social ostracism happening to four characters - William, Frankie, Doc, and Mack - at different points in the novel; how does William and Frankie’s endings differ from Doc and Mack’s? Why do they differ? What is Steinbeck trying to say about personal choice in the midst of uncomfortable circumstances? 

  8. How does Steinbeck portray truth and lies in Cannery Row? Nearly every character is hiding some kind of secret, yet they are still portrayed as essentially good people. Does this mean that Steinbeck is advocating mistruths, or that he realizes people are imperfect and it is therefore better to judge motive than action?

  9. What is the significance of the gopher in Chapter 31? How does Steinbeck use the gopher to sum up the events of the book and the potential future for those in the Row?

  10. The ending of the book shows Doc on the morning after the party, living in an almost perfect moment. How does Steinbeck show that moments like this are rare, fleeting, and above all, precious? How does Steinbeck use events throughout the book to lead up to this moment?back to top


Interactive Quiz Questions

1) What is the name of the grocery store that Steinbeck discusses in Chapter One?

A. Centreville Grocery   B. Monterey Corner Store   C. Lee Chong’s   D. There is no grocery store in Cannery Row

* Correct Answer is C

2) Who does virtually every person in Cannery Row owe money to?

A. Doc   B. Lee Chong   C. Mack   D.  The Bank

* Correct Answer is B

3) What is the name of the man who killed himself in Chapter One?

A. Horace Abbeville   B. Horace Melville   C. Abe Johnson   D. William

* Correct Answer is A

4) What did the man who killed himself give to Lee Chong right before he killed himself?

A. Money   B. The property that would eventually become the Flophouse   C. The property that would eventually become the Monterey Cannery   D.  Nothing

* Correct Answer is B

5) How does Steinbeck describe Dora Flood?

A. “decent, clean, [and] honest” B. “cheap, dishonest, [and] uncaring” C. “unkempt, unclean, [and] poor” D. There is no character named Dora Flood.

* Correct Answer is A

6) What is the name of the watchmen who killed himself in Chapter Three?

A. John   B. William   C. Mack   D. Alfred

* Correct Answer is B

7) Who replaced the watchman who killed himself in Chapter Three?

A. William   B. Billy   C. Alfred   D. Mack

* Correct Answer is C

Chapter Four

8) Who was the only person brave enough to cross the “old Chinaman?”

A. Mack   B. Lee Chong   C. Andy   D. Billy

* Correct Answer is C

9) Who owns Western Biological?

A. Dora Flood   B. The Monterey Cannery   C. Doc   D. California State University

* Correct Answer is C

10) What item does Doc always wear, even during the summer?

A. A gold pocket watch   B. A rain hat   C. Rain boots   D. A lucky shirt

* Correct Answer is B

11) According to Steinbeck, which of the following characters loved to “hear conversation but […] didn’t listen to words - just to the tone of conversation” in Chapter Six?

A. Mack   B. Doc   C. Hazel   D. Henri

* Correct Answer is C

12) Which character claims to be abused by his wife?

A. Gay   B. Doc   C. Henri   D. Mack

* Correct Answer is A

13) Which character loves boats, but is afraid of the ocean?

A. Alfred   B. Henri   C. Mack   D. Doc

* Correct Answer is B

14) What does Steinbeck call “the gold tooth of the palace” in Chapter Seven?

A. A rare piece of art   B. A grandfather clock   C. A stove   D. A collection of wine bottles

* Correct Answer is C

15) Who fills in as the understudy bartender at La Ida?

A. Henri   B. Eddie   C. Mack   D. Doc

* Correct Answer is B

16) How did Eddie create the “punch” that he, Mack, and the boys were so fond of?

A. They didn’t drink any punch   B. Adding the leftover drinks of customers from La Ida into a bottle   C. Using orange juice and seltzer   D. Using beer and milk

* Correct Answer is B

17) Who do Mack and the boys refer to as “a hell of a nice fella” in Chapter Seven?

A. Henri   B. Lee Chong   C. Doc   D. God

* Correct Answer is C

18) According to Mack, why do he and the boys have such “good reputations?”

A. Because “we don’t cheat nobody out of nothin’ they don’t need.” B. Because they don’t beat up women   C. Because “[e]every one of us keeps a job from a month or more when we take one.” D. Because they do a lot of volunteer work around the community.

* Correct Answer is C

19) What couple lives in an abandoned boiler?

A. Mr. and Mrs. Malloy   B. Mr. and Mrs. Jones   C. Mr. and Mrs. Flood   D. No one lives in a boiler.

* Correct Answer is A

20) What distinctive feature did Mrs. Malloy want to add to the boiler?

A. Indoor plumbing   B. Paint   C. Curtains   D. Carpeting

* Correct Answer is C

21) What kind of sea creature did Doc and Hazel try to catch in the beginning of the story?

A. Frogs   B. Starfish   C. Octopi   D. Fish

* Correct Answer is B

22) When Mack approaches Doc about “get[ting] some dough,” Doc tells Mack that he “could use three or four hundred _____________.”

A. Sardines   B. Starfish   C. Frogs   D. Tadpoles

* Correct Answer is C

23) Why is Doc wary of Mack and the boys?

A. Because his dealings with them are rarely profitable   B. Because they once threatened him in order to get money   C. Because Mack is secretly his brother, though Mack doesn’t know it   D. Because Gay married the woman he was in love with

* Correct Answer is A

24) Why does Lee Chong eventually allow Mack and the boys to use his truck?

A. Because they agree to fix it   B. Because they tell him that it’s for Doc   C. Because Mack threatens him   D. Because they agree to pay him for using it

* Correct Answer is A

25) What young boy started hanging around Western Biological when he was eleven?

A. Frankie   B. Fred   C. Billy   D. Mack

* Correct Answer is A

26) What did Frankie try to do at one of Doc’s parties, but ultimately didn’t succeed at?

A. Serve drinks   B. Sing   C. Dance   D. Light cigarettes

* Correct Answer is A

27) Which of Mack’s ‘boys’ fixed Lee Chong’s truck?

A. Eddie   B. Henri   C. Hazel   D. Gay

* Correct Answer is D

28) In regards to hunters, Steinbeck wrote that “[c]ity hunters going out for sport load themselves with food and liquor, but not Mack. He presumed rightly that the _____________ was where food came from.”

A. Factory   B. Country   C. Earth   D. Sea

* Correct Answer is B

29) What kind of truck does Steinbeck write about in chapter Eleven?

A. A Toyota   B. The Ford Model T   C. The Chevy   D. He doesn’t write about a truck

* Correct Answer is B

30) Which one of Mack’s “boys” was imprisoned in Chapter Eleven?

A. Gay   B. Hazel   C. Eddie   D. Henri

* Correct Answer is A

31) Why did Mack and the boys borrow Lee Chong’s Model T?

A. To collect Frogs for Doc   B. To find a puppy to adopt   C. To buy alcohol from a neighboring city   D. To run from the law

* Correct Answer is A

32) How old is Mack?

A. 28   B. 45   C. 48   D. 32

* Correct Answer is C

33) According to Mack, why “can’t [you] trust a married guy”?

A. Because he doesn’t know how to have fun anymore   B. Because he will always go back to his wife   C. Because he’ll steal money to buy things for his wife   D. Because his wife will come and steal him away

* Correct Answer is B

34) What does the man who Mack calls “Captain” in Chapter Thirteen lie about?

A. His name   B. That he isn’t married   C. That his dog is a “Virginia dog” D. That he didn’t know what a frog was

* Correct Answer is C

35) What does Mack offer to do for the “Captain” in Chapter Thirteen?

A. Nothing   B. Make a poultice to help his dog feel better   C. Kill him a deer for dinner   D. Pay him for letting him and the boys catch frogs on his land

* Correct Answer is B

36) According to Steinbeck, when does the “magic” of Cannery Row occur?

A. The summer   B. Nighttime   C. Early Morning   D. Christmas

* Correct Answer is C

37) According to Steinbeck, how many frogs were in the pond near the “Captain’s” house? 

A. “Thousands” B. “Hundreds” C. “None” D. “Millions”

* Correct Answer is A

38) According to Steinbeck, “the busiest time the girls of the Bear Flag ever had was the March _____________”

A. “the new factory opened” B. “of the big sardine catch” C. “that the men came home from war” D. “that there were no other women in Canner Row”

* Correct Answer is B

39) What illness did the citizens of Cannery Row contract in Chapter Sixteen?

A. Scarlet Fever   B. Yellow Fever   C. Influenza   D. The mumps

* Correct Answer is C

40) What attraction did Holman’s Department Store create to draw in more customers?

A. A flag-pole sitter   B. A flag-pole skater   C. A painter   D. A clown

* Correct Answer is B

41) According to Steinbeck, why did it take longer for Doc to travel than it did for other people?

A. Because he “was old” B. Because he “didn’t drive fast and he stopped and ate hamburgers very often” C. Because he “liked to stop and take a lot of pictures” D. Because he “collected a lot of animal specimens along the way”

* Correct Answer is B

42) What did Doc always want to try, but was too afraid to try when other who knew him were around?

A. Dancing   B. A chicken sandwich   C. A beer milk shake   D. Singing

* Correct Answer is C

43) Why did Doc kick a hitchhiker out of his car?

A. Because the man criticized drunk driving   B. Because the man criticized his mother   C. Because the man insulted Canner Row   D. Because the man said that Western Biological was immoral

* Correct Answer is A

44) What did Doc find in the ocean that makes him feel sick?

A. A bloody shirt   B. A dead body   C. A dead dear   D. A dead whale

* Correct Answer is B

45) What caused Richard Frost to become so agitated in Chapter Nineteen?

A. He wanted to be the pole-skater for Holman’s Department Store   B. He had an affair   C. He discovered that his wife had an affair   D. He wanted to know how the pole-skater used the restroom

* Correct Answer is D

46) In Chapter Twenty, what reason does Mack give for Lee Chong being indebted to Doc?

A.Doc helped Lee Chong immigrate successfully to the United States   B. Doc owns the land that Lee’s Grocery stands on   C. Doc gave Lee Chong’s wife laudanum for a bad tooth   D. Doc loaned Lee Chong money during the depression

* Correct Answer is C

47) Instead of using cash, how did Mack and the boys pay Lee Chong for groceries?

A. Starfish   B. Labor   C. Whiskey   D. Frogs

* Correct Answer is D

48) What did Mack name his puppy?

A. Old Yeller   B. Darling   C. Strawberry   D. Jack

* Correct Answer is B

49) What happened to all of the frogs that Mack and the boys caught for Doc?

A. They were stolen   B. They were accidentally cooked   C. They escaped   D. They died

* Correct Answer is C

50) When Doc came home to find the mess of the first ‘party,’ how did he greet Mack?

A. By giving him a hug   B. By punching him in the face   C. By yelling at him   D. By thanking him

* Correct Answer is B

51) Why did Doc refuse Mack’s offer to pay for all of the damage to the Laboratory?

A. Because deep down, Doc felt like the damage was his fault because he did not lock the Laboratory door.   B. Because he knew that Mack would never really pay him back   C. Because Doc was a “nice guy” D. Because Doc was planning to remodel the Laboratory anyways

* Correct Answer is B

Chapter Twenty-Two

52) Why was Henri so finicky about his boat?

A. Because he really wasn’t a good boat builder   B. Because he was an artist   C. Because if he finished the boat, he would have to pay back a loan he owed the bank   D. Because he never wanted to finish his boat

* Correct Answer is D

53) After the failure of the ‘party,’ who was the only happy individual at the Palace Flophouse?

A. Mack   B. Henri   C. Eddie   D. Darling

* Correct Answer is D

54) Who does Doc call the “true philosophers”?

A. Mack and the boys   B. Dora’s girls   C. The men of the factories   D. The creatures of the ocean

* Correct Answer is A

55) What is the major turning point for Mack and the boys in the story?

A. When no one will talk to them anymore   B. When their party for Doc fails   C. When Darling gets sick   D. When they don’t have any food

* Correct Answer is C

56) What animal does Mrs. Talbot invite to her ‘tea parties’?

A. Imaginary Penguins   B. Dogs   C. Birds   D. Cats

* Correct Answer is D

57) What did Dora’s girls plan on giving Doc for his ‘birthday’?

A. Money   B. A quilt   C. A free night at the Bear Flag   D. Alcohol

* Correct Answer is B

58) What does Frankie try to steal as a present for Doc’s ‘birthday’?

A. A whistle   B. A clock   C. A set of wine glasses   D. New windows

* Correct Answer is B

59) What reason does Frankie give Doc when Doc asks him why he tried to steal something for his birthday?

A. That he loves him    B. That he needed money   C. That his mother didn’t love him   D. That Doc was like a father to him

* Correct Answer is A

60) What animal appears in Chapter Thirty-One?

A. A dog   B. A cat   C. A gopher   D. A mouse

* Correct Answer is Cback to top


[Enrichment]:     Setting | Character Census | Plot Synopsis | Reception
[Glossary]:            Cultural References | Key Terms and Concepts
[Supplements]:   Activities | Short Answer Questions | Essay Questions| Interactive Quiz
[References]:       Suggestions for Further Reading | Works Cited