Sweet Thursday

Setting | Character Summaries| Plot Synopsis | Critical Reception

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Context

Overview

Sweet Thursday (1954), the sequel to John Steinbeck's popular Cannery Row (1945), is set in post WW II in Monterey, California.  Like in Cannery Row, the novel's action takes place near the now-defunct fish packing canneries that previously supported the local economy.  Sweet Thursday reintroduces Cannery Row's comedic regulars such as Doc, Mac, and Hazel, and includes a few new additions, such as Joseph and Mary Rivas, new proprietor of Lee Chong's grocery, and Fauna, new madam of the Bear Flag Brothel.  The novel is pervaded by a sense of nostalgia as Doc returns to the wrecked Western Biological Laboratories after serving several years in the military.  Not only are old friends dead and gone, but in his futile effort to write a scientific paper, Doc discovers he is intensely lonely. The citizens of Cannery Row reach out to their revered neighbor and try to lift his spirits with booze and prostitutes.  Fauna, madam of the Bear Flag brothel, tries to make a match between Doc and her employee, Suzy, a spirited prostitute with honest and respectable intentions.  Citizens of Cannery Row ultimately put their self-interest aside and unite to bring Doc and Suzy together, demonstrating their respect for friendship and admiration of Doc as they sincerely desire to help him achieve lasting happiness.

Sweet Thursday was first published in 1954 by Viking.  It was adapted into a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical entitled Pipe Dream in 1955.