Sweet Thursday - Plot Synopsis
The prologue is comprised of Mack's critical suggestions for improving the novel Cannery Row, if he "ever came across the guy that wrote that book" (vii). He suggests the use of chapter titles for previewing their content and favors limited character description in lieu of more dialogue. He also expects "hooptedoodle," or passages of poetic or philosophical digression, to be labeled as such so he can skip over them while reading and maintain focus on key plot events. Mac's commentary prepares readers for a relaxed and comedic continuance of the saga of Cannery Row. His conversation implies that the text of Sweet Thursday is somehow an attempt to improve upon the story told in Cannery Row. It also alludes to the nature of artistic endeavor and the artist's relationship to critics. The strain of artistic endeavor becomes the central focus of Doc's inability to write his scientific paper.
Chapter 1: What Happened In Between
The novel begins by describing the effects of World War II on Cannery Row and catching readers up on the characters' histories. The canneries have been forced to close as local sea life was over-harvested during the war. Doc, proprietor of Western Biological Laboratories and local consultant to the entire town, returns from an unproductive military stint to find his lab, left in the care of Old Jingleballicks, abandoned. Lee Chong has sailed to the South Pacific after selling his grocery store and social landmark to Joseph and Mary, a local shyster. Some of the Row's vagabonds and vagrants, like Gay, were killed or injured in the war. Eddie, who stayed home working the bar at La Ida, spent his time filling kegs of leftover drinks to save for his friends' return. Dora, previous owner of the Bear Flag brothel has died in her sleep and been replaced by her older sister, Flora, affectionately dubbed Fauna by a customer. Henri, the local modern artist, who, fearful of the ocean, built a boat on dry land, abandoned the Row after the Palace Flophouse boys glue barnacles on its hull. The gentle, yet not so sharp Hazel had been admitted to the University of California, thanks to the G.I. Bill and a clerical error. Mack, who traveled about unsuccessfully searching for uranium, returned to Cannery Row just in time to plant flowers in front of the Palace Flophouse and welcome the veterans home.
Chapter 2: The Troubled Life of Joseph and Mary
After catching Doc up on the state of affairs in Chapter 1, Mack goes on to describe the new store keeper, a "[n]ice fellow" by the name of Joseph and Mary Rivas (10). Joseph and Mary was born with criminal tendencies and arrives on the Row with quite the colorful past. After a childhood of leading gangs, hustling pool and attending reform school, those tendencies had been refined into expertise. One of his greatest achievements was growing marijuana, while a city employee, in the public Plaza in Los Angeles. After being banished from Los Angeles County, Joseph and Mary moved on to exploiting the migrant worker communities in Monterey. Much to his dismay, his nephew, Cacahuete, and several other workers began a highly acclaimed musical band. He maintains control over the band and their wages with threats of deportation. The chapter ends with Mack and Doc reflecting on the changes in Cannery Row with melancholy. Doc admits he feels he has changed as well foreshadowing his discontent and inability to find satisfaction.
Chapter 3: Hooptedoodle (1)
Steinbeck speculates about the nature of change and Doc's "gnawing" discontent (20). The narrator reflects upon local strange happenings, such as the birth of a six-legged calf and a cold spring, and wonders whether or not these events are foreboding. Ultimately the narrator decides that only time will tell. The narrator's reflections are connected to Mac and Doc's commentary on the changed nature of the Row and of Doc at the end of the previous chapter. Before the war Doc was affable, uncritical, well-loved and content. Now, upon his return, he is plagued by worry over his half-ruined laboratory and failing business.
The narrator reflects upon Doc's persistent feelings of unhappiness and proposes it may be the onset of middle age. Doc begins to wonder about his purpose in life and whether or not he has ultimately contributed anything worthwhile to the world. He begins to hear three voices in his mind respond to his speculations, his thinking mind, his feeling mind and his marrow, which announces he is "Lonesome!" (22). After a failed date, Doc dedicates his efforts to researching octopi. He decides to write a paper on their emotional reactions in order to compare them to humans. He hopes the intellectual endeavor might quiet the voices of longing in his mind, but he also becomes thwarted by fear of failure. The citizens of Cannery Row notice his discontent and distraction and desire to help him. Doc mentions his need for a microscope and Mack sees the opportunity to help Doc escape his funk. This sets off a disastrous chain of events that could only turn out right on Cannery Row.
Chapter 4: There Would Be No Game
This chapter explains Joseph and Mary's growing attraction to Doc. Doc teaches Joseph and Mary how to play chess. Entirely honest, Doc explains to Joseph and Mary that no one can cheat at chess because it is based on the same kinds of precise logic as music and math. Joseph and Mary marvels at the idea of complete honesty and his criminal mind suspiciously looks for a catch. Their conversation exposes how differently the two men think.
Chapter 5: Enter Suzy
The narrator begins by describing a good constable as a knowing, prudent and present character in a town. Joe Blaikey, the esteemed and capable constable of Monterey, fits the bill perfectly. Joe intercepts Suzy as she enters town and visits the Golden Poppy diner for a cup of coffee. Suzy, young and pretty with cheap clothes and scuffed shoes, disembarks from a bus into Monterey with only a few cents in her pocket. Joe notices she is a vagrant and advises her to refrain from prostitution on the streets. He offers to help her if she decides to leave town. Suzy declines his offer of assistance and goes to the Bear Flag seeking work as a prostitute. Her story unravels as Fauna prods into her past, but Suzy is unwilling to complain or accept sympathy. This makes Fauna like her. Alone, penniless and a hard worker, Suzy is hired and sent to buy a dress. Joe Blaikey walks her to J.C. Penny's department store reminding her to stay out of trouble.
Chapter 6: The Creative Cross
This chapter introduces Doc's frustration as he attempts to begin his paper on apoplexy in octopi. He studies the emotional reactions of captive octopi, finding them similar to human emotions. When he tries to concentrate, however, he is distracted by his own musings and watches a girl walk down the street. His middle voice chastises him as a fake for attempting to disguise his own insignificance in the "priestly words of science" and his marrow voice continues to chant its loneliness (42). Doc finally retreats to the grocery store for a beer in defeat.
Chapter 7: Tinder is as Tinder Does
In this chapter readers learn Joseph and Mary has a special interest in the Bear Flag since it makes money and he loves money. Slightly distressed that a woman should own such a profitable business, he spends his time concocting schemes for taking over ownership of the Bear Flag and relegating Fauna to a management position. He especially questions her judgment for hiring Suzy who is not a typical prostitute. In response, Fauna relates the story of a South American man who tried to swindle her while she was doing missionary work. While she admits her defeat, she shows Joseph and Mary that she has the man's shrunken head in her desk. Joseph and Mary quickly retreats to his store.
Later, Suzy meets Joseph and Mary in his store and they size each other up. Suzy quickly pegs Joseph and Mary as a criminal: "Greaseball, smart and mean" (46). Joseph and Mary concludes Suzy is a "lousy" candidate for a prostitute as she is a "character" and is too free-thinking and emotional (46). The two have a quick conversation about astrology and Doc, with whom Joseph and Mary decides Suzy shares certain characteristics. Doc gets a good glimpse of Suzy as she leaves the store on her way back to the Bear Flag.
Chapter 8: The Great Roque War
This chapter parodies the conservative stuffiness of the town of Pacific Grove, which is adjacent to Monterey. According to the narrator, there are many outdated blue laws in Pacific Grove and nearly as many old, grumpy people. "Hijinks" are especially forbidden (51). One of the few outlets for the entertainment of old, grumpy people in Pacific Grove is the annual roque tournament, an apparently complicated mixture of croquet and billiards. The narrator recounts one past tournament that was marred by intense competition, which escalated into hate crimes perpetuated by the elderly roque tournament participants. The philanthropist who donated the roque courts, Mr. Deems, decided to bulldoze them the day before the tournament to end the violence. The angry citizens run him out of town. The narrator concludes by explaining every year the townspeople unite and burn an effigy of Mr. Deems.
Chapter 9: Whom the Gods Love They Drive Nuts
Steinbeck introduces the delicate symbiotic relationship that exists among the inhabitants of the Row and explains Doc's central position as "first citizen of Cannery Row" and the special place he holds in nearly everyone's heart (55). Aware of his persistent depression, Wide Ida, the vagrants and several workers from the Bear Flag commune at the Palace Flophouse to discuss Doc's apparent sadness. They decide to summon Fauna, who practices astrology as a means of telling others what to do, to find out what is wrong with Doc. Fauna arrives and, much to everyone's shock and surprise, announces that Hazel is to become President of the United States. She agrees to do Doc's horoscope, but they realize they are all unaware of his actual birth date. After a bit of bickering and speculation, the group concludes the paper is not really the cause of Doc's anxiety and he is most likely in need of a woman.
Chapter 10: There's a Hole in Reality through which We Can Look if We Wish
The chapter opens upon Doc concentrating on his paper. His thoughts are interrupted by comings and goings in the street. Joseph and Mary then drops in to chit chat. Doc rushes off and goes for a walk on the beach hoping to collect his thoughts. He wishes to return to the life he had before the war when he could easily find contentment in unimportant things. A vagrant man, who claims to be a seer, interrupts Doc's musings and invites him to his camp on the beach. After discussing the seer's visions, they dine on a meal of ocean creatures. The seer confesses his love of candy bars, which is the only food he is forced to steal. Doc relates his frustrations to the seer, explaining: "I want to take everything I've seen and thought and learned and reduce them and relate them and refine them until I have something of meaning, something of use. And I can't seem to do it" (69). Ultimately the seer proposes Doc's problem is his lack of love. The seer then walks down to the beach to see the sun set; he says the sun might not be able to go without him and that makes him feel needed. Doc offers to return to see him again, but the seer states he is restless and says he will probably have moved on.
Chapter 11: Hazel's Brooding
We delve into Hazel's great love and admiration for Doc. Hazel broods for hours trying to assess what could be wrong with Doc. Thinking is a very difficult process for Hazel. The narrator explains, "A picture of the process would make you seasick. A gray, whirling furor of images, memories, words, patterns. It was like a traffic jam at a big intersection with Hazel in the middle trying to get something to move somewhere" (71). The only thing he can recall with clarity from the group's previous conversation about Doc was Mack's declaration that Doc would never be able to write his paper. With effort, Hazel concludes that Mack must be the cause of Doc's angst. He returns to the Palace Flophouse with decision and tries to beat Mack and force him to fix Doc's problems. Mack and the others admire Hazel's conviction, and after many drinks and toasts to Hazel's nobility, the men decide that perhaps what Doc really needs is a wife.
Chapter 12: Flower in a Crannied Wall
A brief confrontation occurs between Suzy and Joe Elegant, the aspiring novelist who is employed as cook at the Bear Flag. Suzy is offended by Joe's arrogance. After she expresses interest in his novel, however, Joe Elegant warms to Suzy and even offers to bake her brownies.
Chapter 13: Parallels Must Be Related
In another brief episode, Wide Ida brings over some moonshine for Doc to analyze for safety. Doc, "torn between bootlegging and murder," agrees to taste it while musing on the precarious position he frequently finds himself in, always between "bad and less bad" (79). Doc determines the alcohol's contents are questionable, but passably consumable. Thankful for his assistance, Wide Ida comments on his recent odd behavior and offers to help in anyway possible. Doc becomes indignant over his friends' concern, thinking to himself, "pity and contempt are brothers" (80). He swallows his anger with a swig of the terrible moonshine and decides to leave for the Great Tide Pool to fill an order for starfish.
Chapter 14: Lousy Wednesday
"Some days are born ugly" (81). On this particular terrible day, not only does Mack lose his pants, but thanks to Wide Ida's grumblings over property taxes, he is also hit with the realization that taxes may be due upon the Palace Flophouse. He becomes quite worried since Joseph and Mary, who should have acquired ownership of the Palace Flophouse with Lee Chong's grocery, seems unaware that he owns the property. If ever hit with a tax bill for the Palace Flophouse, Mack knows Joseph and Mary will certainly extort the money from the boys. Mack decides he must figure out a way to gain ownership of the Palace Flophouse to save his and the boys' homestead.
Chapter 15: The Playing Fields of Harrow
Steinbeck enlarges upon Fauna's business sense and her personal interest in her employees. Upon taking over the Bear Flag, Fauna designed the Ready Room, where she teaches her prostitutes etiquette and various social niceties like Parcheesi. The centerpiece on one wall is a large board, upon which are hung gold stars, each representing a girl from the brothel who is now successfully married. After a description of the room, Fauna enters the scene prepared to give a lesson in the appropriate use of silverware. Suzy comes in late and demonstrates her lack of manners and unrefined speech. After chastising Suzy and receiving an invitation from Mack to attend a get together at the Palace Flophouse, Fauna sends Suzy to cheer up Doc with beer and cake. Fauna ends by reflecting upon Suzy's inadequacies as a prostitute and whimsically imagines a gold star for Suzy on her board.
Chapter 16: The Little Flowers of Saint Mack
Mac pays a visit to Doc in Chapter 16 in order to learn more about Joseph and Mary Rivas in efforts to concoct a workable scheme for acquiring the Palace Flophouse. After Doc uncomfortably turns the conversation upon Mac himself, Mac changes the subject to golf and women. Mack believes all illnesses in married women are associated with money. Poor women stay healthy but rich women find ways to spend their husband's money on their perceived illnesses. Doc good naturedly listens but becomes angry when Mack suggests that Doc has abandoned his research on octopi and is back to normal. Doc again vehemently commits to collecting more octopi and finishing his paper.
Chapter 17: Suzy Binds the Cheese
In this episode, Doc and Suzy meet for the first time. When Suzy delivers the beer and cake to Doc, they share a laugh at the cake's enormity. This joviality quickly ends though as Suzy wonders at the oddness of Doc's profession and Doc points out the flaws in her own. They attack one another's insecurities, including Doc's loneliness and Suzy's compromised role as a prostitute. After mutual slinging of insults, Suzy ends the conversation by telling Doc the entire town realizes he will not finish his paper and that everyone is laughing at him. Suzy regrets her words, but Doc cannot forget them. He thinks she is the most honest person he has ever met.
Chapter 18: A Pause in the Day's Occupation
This chapter opens upon the girls of the Bear Flag gathering in the Ready Room after a long night of business with a group of older, distinguished citizens known as the Rattlesnakes. After some idle chitchat, the girls complain to Fauna that Suzy was an hour late to work that evening because of her visit with Doc. Suzy interrupts and asks Fauna, "What's wrong with Doc?"(107). Fauna defends Doc against Suzy's questioning and vaguely wonders if the two should be married. She decides to look up Suzy's horoscope for confirmation and learns that Suzy, a Pisces, should marry a Cancer. Though Suzy vehemently rejects the idea, Fauna becomes determined to learn Doc's zodiac sign.
Later, Suzy sneaks over to Doc's lab to sincerely apologize and encourage him to write his paper. Despite her intentions, the two end up arguing again and she leaves in a huff exclaiming her hatred of fools. Mack shows up moments later wondering about property values in Cannery Row and ends up giving Doc advice about women. He explains there are three good reasons for marrying a prostitute: they are likely to be faithful since they have had plenty of experience, they have low expectations, and if once shows interest in you, it is because she genuinely likes you.
Chapter 19: Sweet Thursday (1)
The narrator opens by announcing this Thursday is of particular importance as significant forces have been set in motion on Cannery Row. On such a beautiful day, the entire town is in a good mood. Mack dresses up in a variety of borrowed clothing and pays an official visit to Joseph and Mary at the grocery. He suggests raffling off the Palace Flophouse to raise four hundred dollars to purchase a much-needed microscope for Doc. He plans on rigging the raffle so that Doc will win and the flophouse will pass into his ownership and Mac and the boys' home with thereby be protected. Joseph and Mary agrees to this clever idea and even offers to sell tickets. Ironically, he has no idea he has agreed to raffle off his own property. Mack is overjoyed at his successful plan.
Chapter 20: Sweet Thursday (2)
The favorable events of Sweet Thursday continue as Fauna is accidentally awakened much earlier than usual by a trick of sunlight. She decides to dress and deliver some beer to Doc, whom she hopes might help her with a little problem. Fauna pretends to seek Doc's advice about Suzy's employment at the Bear Flag. They both agree that Suzy has too much character to be a good prostitute, but Fauna admits she could never cast Suzy out from the protection of her establishment. Fauna asks Doc if he would be willing to take Suzy on a date. She surmises that if Suzy were to be treated like a lady, she might act like a lady and give up prostitution all together. Doc is oddly warmed by the prospect and agrees to consider Fauna's proposition, though he wonders if Suzy will accept an invitation.
Chapter 21: Sweet Thursday Was One Hell of a Day
By the time afternoon rolls around, it seems the entire community of Monterey is involved in buying, selling and trading raffle tickets. The citizens of Cannery Row especially take pleasure in buying tickets from Joseph and Mary himself as everyone but him is aware he is mistakenly raffling away his own property. Though Mack would like to draw out the selling of tickets, he knows he is racing with a tax assessment and decides to end the raffle that coming Saturday in time for a party.
Mack invites Doc, the guest of honor, to the party and tries to learn Doc's birthday so Fauna can complete his horoscope. Remembering a disastrous birthday party from the past, Doc makes up the first fake birth date that comes to mind, the fourth of July. In the meantime, Fauna convinces Suzy, who is at first adamantly opposed to the idea, to go out on a date with Doc. Suzy disappears to the beach to brood over the dinner invitation while the other residents of the Bear Flag converge upon the Palace Flophouse for a drink. There they decide that since Doc's horoscope sign is Cancer, he is destined to marry Suzy. They conclude Saturday's party should be an engagement party as well.
Chapter 22: The Arming
At 4:30 pm, Fauna inspects Suzy and dresses her for her date with Doc. Suzy borrows clothing, has her shoes repaired, is primped up a bit by fellow prostitute Becky and receives advice about being a lady from Fauna. She is told to listen, to be genuine, to ask questions and to think twice before saying anything she may regret. Fauna also tells Suzy, who is doubtful of her own self worth, that she is special and worth knowing. Suzy is greatly affected by Fauna's kindness and tells Fauna she loves her.
The chapter ends with a sloppy and ill-dressed Doc arriving to pick up Suzy. He is taken aback by Suzy's lovely appearance and runs home only to return in cleaner, nicer clothing. Fauna considers this a small victory for Suzy.
Chapter 23: One Night of Love
Doc takes Suzy to a restaurant owned by a Greek man named Sonny Boy. Fauna calls ahead and ensures the couple receives the best table with flowers and quality liquor. The alcohol loosens both of them up a bit and Suzy starts to feel more comfortable. Doc is taken with Suzy's beauty and wonders how she can be the same rough-hewn prostitute he argued with in his lab. Suzy carefully follows the instructions Fauna gave her but becomes overwhelmed and must excuse herself to the ladies' room. In the restroom, Suzy briefly searches her soul and decides that her interactions with Doc must surely be dictated by fate. She commits to making it work out and returns to the table where they sip champagne. They both become a little drunk and Doc tells her about the seer's home in the sand dunes and admits his loneliness. Suzy asks to learn about his lab and they agree to stop and visit the sand dunes on the way home.
Chapter 24: Waiting Friday
Friday dawns on the Row in nervous anticipation. Doc is feeling off, which he attributes to last night's brandy, and his mood is not improved by an uncommon gift of beer from Joseph and Mary. Fauna visits and they discuss the previous night's date. Doc is hesitant to talk about Suzy and leaves to collect samples at the Great Tide Pool. Fauna finds Suzy awake and wondering if Doc will accept her for who she is. Fauna explains that no one can run from their past. Together they divine several favorable signs for a successful union between Suzy and Doc. Fauna sends Suzy to San Francisco for the night to pick up a package and buy a suit, but before Suzy leaves, she sneaks over to Doc's house to clean and leave a stew.
Chapter 25: Old Jingleballicks
Doc returns from his collecting and begins his work realizing Suzy has cleaned his lab and made a stew for him. He is both glad and a little guilty. Just as he is about to sit down to work, Old Jingleballicks, also known as Old Jay, enters the scene. That is not his real name, but because he is so rich and such a famous philanthropist, his actual name cannot be mentioned. He is eccentric and a freeloader, which irks Doc to no end since he is extremely wealthy. He rudely eats Suzy's stew while both frustrating and amusing Doc. Joseph and Mary visits and is dumfounded by Old Jingleballicks who pontificates on the human race's inevitable extinction, which has ironically been precipitated by its obsession with survival. After wild arguments about chess and extinction, the drunken men fall asleep after Doc forbids Old Jay from visiting the Bear Flag.
Chapter 26: The Developing Storm
In the midst of Doc and Old Jingleballick's heated debates, Mack and Fauna meet in Fauna's office to hatch their plans for the upcoming party. They excitedly agree to make it a costume party based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to accommodate to the men's lack of dress clothes and Suzy's wedding attire.
Chapter 27: O Frabjous Day!
The events of Friday continue as news of the theme added to the already special party moves quickly through town. Fauna is determined to create a relationship between Suzy and Doc, assuming she knows the couple better than they know themselves. Mabel, for whom prostitution is a true vocation, has a wedding gown and crown that the women in her family have never needed and she lends it to Fauna for Suzy. Johnny Carriaga, a young boy to be dressed as cupid, learns how to rig the raffle and pull a card with Doc's name on it. Hazel, who everyone assumes will make quite a natural dwarf, decides to be Prince Charming. He solicits help from Joe Elegant for a costume after Mack and the others try to talk him out of his decision.
As preparations continue up and down the Row, Old Jay and Doc wake up hung over and oblivious to discuss Old Jay's entrapment by his fortune. Old Jay tries to explain that he is unable to spend money because of tax purposes. He can only donate money to get tax exemptions. Doc relates the details of his paper and wonders why he cannot finish it. Old Jay, like many others, observes that Doc is unable to commit to his paper because he is unable to commit to another human being, namely Suzy. Doc, though he talks about her constantly, denies having feelings for Suzy.
Chapter 28: Where Alfred the Sacred River Ran
Steinbeck details the preparations for the evening party, which include clearing the floor of the Palace Flophouse, which we learn was aptly named such by Hazel, hanging lights down the outdoor pathways, the borrowing of Joseph and Mary's musicians and the dressing of Mack and company as trees to create the forest atmosphere.
In the meantime, pre-festivities begin up and down the Row as citizens prepare for the party. The employees of the Bear Flag dress as ladies in waiting for Snow White, Fauna dresses as a witch and all of the patrons of La Ida dress as dwarves. Unfamiliar with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Joseph and Mary decides to be Dracula, main character of the only moving picture he had ever seen. Doc and Old Jay continue to drink and argue and in the process completely forget about the party, for which Doc is slated to be the guest of honor. Eddie eventually arrives to escort them once the party is in full swing. They enter at the same time as Hazel, whom Joe Elegant has dressed as a complete fool. Unaware of his own humiliation, Hazel basks proudly in the crowd's shock as Prince Charming.
Once the party-goers regroup from the spectacle, the raffle proceeds. Johnny accidentally drops the fixed winning raffle ticket before he can draw it, but Mack and the audience continue to play along as Doc's name is called and Mack announces he is the winner of the Palace Flophouse. Utterly confused, Doc explains to Mack that prior to his departure, Lee Chong deeded the flophouse to Mack and paid the taxes for ten years so the gang would be cared for. He kept it a secret knowing the boys would surely have mortgaged or sold the property had they known. Mack, after realizing he raffled off his own property, is reassured that the land is in safer hands with Doc.
The party continues to rage and the Bear Flag girls enter the scene. Fauna, dressed as a witch, beckons Doc to the door while a trumpet begins to play the "Wedding March." Suzy enters as a bride and Doc's initial shock pains and embarrasses her. She refuses him and runs away, knowing that she loves him.
Chapter 29: Oh Woe, Woe, Woe!
We are shown the changed nature of the Row after the disastrous and humiliating party. A sense of quite depression pervades the area. The scene opens upon Suzy who enters the Golden Poppy just after Joe Blaikey and asks Ella, the full-time waitress, for a job. She offers to work for her meals, hoping for a chance to improve her life. Ella, longing for a well deserved break, agrees. Remembering his offer to help her when she arrived in town, Suzy asks Joe to lend her twenty-five dollars to get started, which she promises to pay back with her tips.
Suzy moves into the large abandoned boiler once owned by the Hediondo Cannery. The previous occupants, the Malloys, had added a fireplace, but the boiler lacks plumbing or running water. However, it is a dry, safe and free place to live. Suzy makes it a home with Joe's money and pays him back $2.50 with her first week's tips. She tells Fauna that she is only going to be a good friend, and lover, after she becomes a good person and is happy with herself.
Chapter 30: A President is Born
We return to the confused mind of Hazel. After Fauna predicted Hazel would be President of the United States, he began to change. As his mind was always in a bit of a fog, Hazel had never paid much attention to anything long enough to learn or become influenced by his surroundings. However, though the weight of such responsibility pained him greatly, Hazel began to assume his position of future Presidency with vigor. He had opted to be Prince Charming at the party because he thought that is what a President would do. He is deeply affected by what happened at the disaster of a party, but he is not quite sure how to put things in order for Doc. He assumes Mack can still help, though Mack is uselessly crumpled in a heap of depression upon his mattress. When Mack refuses to budge, Hazel bashes Mack as hard as he can with an oaken stave and proclaims he will help Doc himself.
Chapter 31: The Thorny Path of Greatness
This chapter continues to follow Hazel as he hatches plans to help Doc. Before Hazel's assumption of responsibility, Doc loved to talk to him. Doc said he was a perfect listener because he assumed, like everyone else, that Hazel had no memory and no comments to offer. Hazel resolves to take advantage of his position and begins listening to others and fools them into thinking he is, as usual, not listening. He hopes someone might reveal a way for him to help Doc.
Chapter 32: Hazel's Quest
After making his resolution to solve Doc's problem, whatever it may be, Hazel sets about town to collect information. Joe Elegant speaks to Hazel in a combination of imagery and psychoanalysis that leaves him confused until Joe declares that Doc needs love and understanding. Fauna then stumbles upon Hazel in the Ready Room and tells him Doc should take Suzy to La Jolla with him to collect more octopi, though she has been unable to reconcile the two.
Joseph and Mary later reveals to Hazel that he thinks Doc was spying around Suzy's boiler the previous night. He admits that Suzy is uncommonly pretty and expresses interest in her. Hazel discourages Joseph and Mary from asking Suzy out.
After learning of Suzy's employment as a waitress, Hazel pays as visit to the Golden Poppy. The narrator reveals Suzy is taking care of herself as well as becoming a useful worker at the restaurant. Suzy offers Ella her first real rest in years and gradually returns the $25.00 she borrowed from Joe Blaikey. Hazel walks Suzy home after work and explains that Doc needs help. Suzy says she cares enough to take Doc soup if he breaks a bone, but thinks there is little else she can do for him.
Hazel goes on to visit Doc who admits to Hazel that he is trying to write his paper to fill a hole in himself that might be missing children and fathering. He also admits that he would have married Suzy in the Palace Flophouse. He is curious about her and her well being and is ashamed he was a snob about her background. Hazel admits to Doc he is really listening this time and tells Doc that Joseph and Mary is trying to see Suzy.
After making his rounds, Hazel is interrogated by the Palace Flophouse gang, as they sense he is up to something, but he stands firm and keeps his plans to help Doc to himself.
Chapter 33: The Distant Drum
After Hazel departs, the three voices in Doc's mind pipe up and argue with one another. As he tries to convince himself to carry on with his work, he is snapped to attention by the clanging of Suzy's boiler door. Doc remembers Hazel's warning and is enraged at Joseph and Mary, who unsuccessfully tries to sweet talk Suzy. She refuses his advances and slams the door shut on his fingers. Doc then attacks Joseph and Mary and nearly kills him. Joseph and Mary promises to stay away from Suzy and they congenially share whisky and discuss Suzy's attitude toward men. She declares she will only see a man who is deeply in love with her. The two men plan to pick flowers to get Doc into her good graces.
Chapter 34: The Deep-Dish Set-Down
The next morning, Joe Elegant wakes to see a museum jar full of flowers at Suzy's door. He tells Fauna and soon the whole town knows that Doc left Suzy flowers. Suzy finds the flowers and goes to the Bear Flag with her suitcase. She takes a long bath and returns home. Fauna sends Doc a note saying Suzy is not going to work that day.
Chapter 35: Il n'y a pas de mouches sur la grandmère
Doc makes plans to visit Suzy. He examines his clothes for the first time and finds them shabby. He also realizes he is frightened of visiting Suzy. He debates the possibility of rejection and finally takes Suzy a box of chocolate. Suzy graciously receives her visitor and demonstrates her pride in her new home. She explains to Doc that she is not angry at him and that he should not feel sorry for her because she can take care of herself. She also tells Doc about the typing class she enrolled in and will begin next week. Doc asks what kind of man Suzy would be interested in and she describes a man who is completely emotionally connected to her. They end the conversation and Suzy lets Doc know that the seer was caught stealing candy bars and taken to jail by Joe Blaikey.
Doc, despondent at home, resolves to go to La Jolla and finish his paper in order to even have a future. Hazel visits Doc and is sent to take the seer candy bars and tell Joe to be kind, for Doc's sake. Doc receives a telegram stating that Old Jay has set up a cephalopod research fund at the California Institute of Technology in Doc's name. He has been scheduled to read his as of yet unwritten paper to an audience of scientists.
Chapter 36: Lama Sabachthani?
Hazel delivers candy bars to the seer, who admits greed is his downfall; he took three candy bars at once instead of the usual one. The Safeway manager had previously allowed him to steal one at a time, but three was too many. Hazel asks the seer's advice about Doc's loneliness and the seer insists that if Hazel loves his friend, he will do anything for him, even kill him or jeopardize their friendship.
Hazel is uncomfortable with his duty of helping Doc and spends a sleepless night preparing himself. He leaves the scene with an indoor ball bat and returns crying.
Chapter 37: Little Chapter
Dr. Horace Dormody receives a call from Doc and goes to treat him at the lab for a broken arm. According to his own testimony, Doc does not know how it became broken and tells the skeptical doctor it may have happened in his sleep. Now, with a cast on one arm, Doc's trip to La Jolla to continue his research is in jeopardy.
Chapter 38: Hooptedoodle (2), or The Pacific Grove Butterfly Festival
This interlude compares the situation on Cannery Row to the chaos threatening to erupt in the neighboring town of Pacific Grove. The narrator explains how Monarch butterflies migrate to the costal city of Pacific Grove every year. The butterflies, which get drunk on tree sap and mate, are a huge tourist attraction. The town holds an elaborate Butterfly Festival every year. However, this year the butterflies do not arrive on time and the citizens begin to panic. Unrest sets in and the citizens turn first on the local government and then on each other precipitating a string of unfortunate events, including the willing desertion of the mayor, who was discovered with a blond upon their evacuation from a burning hotel. The narrator concludes the situation in Cannery Row may not be so bad after all.
Chapter 39: Sweet Thursday Revisited
Thankfully for everyone involved, the butterflies come to Pacific Grove, the tides are perfect for collecting and the seer is not charged for stealing candy bars. The story of Doc's injury quickly spreads across town. Mack rushes to Doc's house to see the cast himself. Doc insists he caught his arm between the wall and his cot and laments that he must get down to La Jolla to do his collecting. Rather than offering him assistance, Mack runs off to find Hazel, whom he realizes has broken Doc's arm to attract the attention of Suzy. He congratulates Hazel, who is wracked with guilt, and sends another one of the boys over to guard Doc's lab to turn away anyone who might beat Suzy there to help Doc. Hazel, upset, begs Mack to relieve him of his duties as future President. Mack finds Fauna and explains she must convince Hazel she made a mistake in his astrological chart.
Suzy fulfills her promise to bring soup if ever Doc were to be injured. She arrives at Doc's lab and offers to help him with his collecting trip to La Jolla. He attempts to refuse, but ultimately accepts her offer. After Suzy's lies and says she can drive, they agree to leave together that evening. Doc asks Suzy her advice on his new research foundation and his paper. Suzy leaves to prepare for the evening. Doc confesses that he loves her before she departs.
Chapter 40: I'm Sure We Should All Be as Happy as Kings
Suzy gets a crash course in driving from the Palace Flophouse's inhabitants. When she meets Doc to leave for La Jolla, the citizens of Cannery Row arrive to see them off. Mack and the boys present Doc with his new microscope, which ironically turns out to be a telescope. Doc and Suzy depart together and as the car climbs a curb in the distance, Fauna wonders if it is a good time to put up Suzy's gold star. The novel ends with Mack reflecting that perhaps Hazel would have made a good president after all.