Cannery Row

What are the motifs in Cannery Row by John Steinbeck?

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Survival is a recurring idea in the story. Cannery Row examines survival in two ways. First, it shows three people who despair and commit suicide, two for economic reasons and one who is so lonely he cannot bear to live. They contrast with Mack and the boys, a small group of no longer young derelicts dedicated to food, drink, and quiet contentment. Hearing about the place signed over to Lee Chong by one of the suicides, they convince Lee it is in his best interests—having the property maintained and protected against vandalism—to rent it to them. Both parties know he will never see a penny in rent, but their becoming regular customers, never again stealing from Lee, and protecting him against outside toughs offset this.