Capitalism would be another theme in the story. Cannery Row shows folks under the stress of bad economic times. Two out of three suicides described in the novel result from despair over debts. Lee Chong extends credit to customers of his grocery store, not demanding repayment until the debt becomes excessive, and then accepting real estate and other property. The canneries are hiring but the owners look closely at the bottom line and refrain from maintaining equipment. As a result, a boiler fails so frequently that it is replaced and becomes a home for squatters, who in turn become landlords, renting sleeping space to cannery workers in large pipes strewn around the field.