is difficult to summarize accurately given its shifting chronology and the occurrence of inter-chapters that are unrelated to the main narrative, but the general outline of the novel is as follows: Lee Chong, the main grocer of Cannery Row, agrees to allow Mack and his group of itinerant men to reside in an old warehouse he has acquired.Mack and his boys move in and christen their new place the Palace Flophouse and Grill. Near the Palace Flophouse is Dora’s Bear Flag Restaurant, a cheerful and well-run brothel.
Doc then goes to a diner orders a beer milkshake from a surprised waitress just to see what it tastes like.
He proceeds to the tide pools and gathers his specimens, but is disturbed when he peers off the edge of the reef and sees the floating body of a dead girl in the water. Back in town, Mack and the boys trade frogs for party supplies at Lee Chong’s, telling Lee that he can sell the frogs to Doc for money.
He pours Mac a beer and, with a sigh, asks him what happened.
Mack and the boys become outcasts after the party debacle, and all of Cannery Row sinks into a malaise.
Hazel tells Doc that another man is coming to stay at the Palace Flophouse – Gay, who fights with his wife a lot and goes in and out of prison.
Back at the Palace, the boys discuss doing something nice for Doc and light upon the idea of throwing him a party.
However, Doc does not return until the following morning, by which time the party is over. When Doc gets back to his lab, it is utterly destroyed.
His precious records are smashed, windows are broken, and greasy dishes are piled high.
Gay fixes up Lee Chong's truck and they start on their journey.
At one point, the truck breaks down and Gay leaves to find a part for it, but he does not return.