Lee Chong is a Chinese grocer who owns a shop on Cannery Row. He is friendly, generous (to a point), and rational. He is mostly beloved by the townspeople, although he occasionally gets in trouble with Chinese gangs.
Abbeville is a down-on-his-luck man who gives Lee Chong his building (which later becomes the Palace Flophouse) in order to pay off his debt. He commits suicide in the building after signing it over to Lee Chong.
Mack is the intelligent and scrappy leader of a group of bums, referred to as "the boys." He is an important figure on Cannery Row. He is philosophically-minded but leads a life of rough-and-tumble ease. He spearheads the effort to throw a party for Doc; this process reveals Mack's flaws, like his lack of foresight and inability to atone for his wrongdoings, but it also brings out the positive aspects of his character, like his genuine love for his friends and his great respect for Doc.
Hazel is 26 years old and one of Mack's boys. He has a girl's name because his mother was too frazzled to notice that he was a boy. He often helps Doc to collect sea creatures for his laboratory. Hazel likes to ask questions and listen to other people talk, but he is not a deep thinker.
Eddie is a member of Mack's gang, as well. He is a fill-in bartender at La Ida. He likes to siphon all the unconsumed liquor and mix it in bottles to bring back to the boys.
Hughie is one of of Mack's boys. He and Jones occasionally do odd jobs around Monterey.
Jones is one of of Mack's boys. He and Hughie occasionally do odd jobs around Monterey.
Doc, the owner of Western Biological, is a scientist and the most beloved person living on Cannery Row. He is erudite and cerebral, but he also loves beer and gets along with everyone. He has women around but does not enter into serious relationships. He is deeply curious and enthusiastic about life.
Dora is the madam at the Bear Flag Restaurant, Cannery Row's local brothel. Dora is friendly, kind, compassionate, and a superb businesswoman.
Alfred is the current watchman at the Bear Flag. He is amiable and well-liked by the community. He performs a number of roles at the brothel. At one point, he accidentally breaks a drunk man's back while trying to throw him out of the bar; the experience rattles Alfred to his core.
William was the watchman at the Bear Flag before Alfred. He was depressed and lonely; even Mack and the boys rejected him. He eventually committed suicide by stabbing himself with an ice pick.
The Greek cook at the Bear Flag.
A young boy from Salinas who has a strange encounter with an old Chinese man.
Gay comes in and out of Mack's gang. He is an experienced mechanic, but he has a tumultuous relationship with his wife. He stays at the Palace Flophouse when his wife decides that prison is too cushy for him. Nevertheless, he ends up in jail in Salinas.
Mr. Sam Malloy and his wife live in an abandoned boiler; Mr. Malloy rents the empty pipes out as rooms to itinerant men. He loves his wife and encourages her decorating whims. He collects old furniture and antiques.
Mrs. Malloy is the wife of Sam Malloy. She is very domestic and tries to decorate the boiler as if it were a real house.
Frankie is a young boy who has some mental issues and a complicated family life. He befriends Doc and grows to love and respect him. He is uncoordinated and lacks reason, and he eventually falls into trouble with the law for trying to steal an expensive statue as a present for Doc.
The owner of the gas station.
The elderly man who discovers that the French doctor has discarded Josh Billings's organs after embalming him.
The French doctor
The doctor who most of Monterey distrusts for his modern embalming techniques. He is castigated for discarding Josh Billings's organs and is forced to pay for the literary hero's funeral.
A renowned literary figure from Monterey whose embalming becomes a scandal.
The captain is an initially crotchety man who tells Mack and his boys to get off his land. However, he quickly warms to Mack's charm and befriends the men, letting them collect frogs from his pond and giving them a puppy (Darling).
Henri the painter
Henri is absorbed in the discourse and ideas of the art world, but he has never lived in Paris. He is also not a very talented artist, but he is an expert craftsman and has been working on a boat that he will never put into the ocean. He is fascinated by the skater at Holman's, has an endless string of girlfriends and/or wives, and is often morose.
Richard is a friend of Doc's. He is a brilliant but anxious young man. He, too, is fascinated by the skater at the department store.
Darling is Mack's dog and she lives in the Palace Flophouse with the boys. Darling is spoiled and has a mind of her own; she is able to house-break herself. At one point, she almost dies, but Doc saves her. The boys dress her up in a red bow for Doc's birthday.
A charming and slightly childish woman, Mary Talbot loves parties more than anything in the world. However, her husband, Tom, does not make much money and thus she has to have tea parties with cats. Nevertheless, she does her best to lift her husband's spirits.
Tom, Mary Talbot's husband, is downtrodden due to his lack of money and success. He love his wife, though, and continues to put on a happy face for her. She has the power to cheer him up when he is feeling low.
Joey is a young boy whose father has recently committed suicide. Joey is eager to impress his friend, Willard, who is a bully.
Willard is supposedly Joey's friend, but he bullies the boy and mocks Joey's father's suicide.
Cannery Row Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Cannery Row is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.