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Tortilla Flat

John Steinbeck

Chapters 6 & 7

Chapters 4 & 5

Chapters 6 & 7, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Chapter 6

The next day, Danny comes out onto the porch of his house to enjoy the sunshine. He has visited the ashes of his house earlier in the morning and has run through a series of emotions. At first, he feels conventional anger at the carelessness of his friends, then appreciation for spiritual property as preferred to the transitory nature of material things, and then he comes into his final emotion, glad to have had the burden of the second house removed. He settles into his chair to await his friends, knowing that he would have to be firm with them, but also looking forward to the new harmony that would surely flourish between them.

When Pilon, Pablo, and Jesus Maria woke up in the pine needles of the forest, they decided that it would be better for them to come clean with Danny. Before they get to his house, however, the friends smell the scent of deviled eggs. They easily scam the picnickers from whom the odor was drifting into surrendering the contents of their basket, which they take to Danny as an offer of penitence. Danny is able to curse at his friends for a while, but before long, the sight of the food overcomes his memory. They eat to the point of discomfort, and then offhandedly discuss the fire. Since they had all been asleep, Pilon and Pablo became suspicious of either an unknown enemy or an act of God.

Pilon brings out the silk undergarment that he had intended as a gift for Mrs. Morales, but Danny is not excited to give it to her. Since his house had burned down, a wonderful coolness had come into his relationship with the older woman which he could not explain but which nevertheless would make such a gift seem like poor taste. Instead, to show that he was over the loss of his house, and that he expected nothing of his friends, Danny brings out a quart of grappa to share. Pablo offers his thanks to Danny for his solace, and Jesus Maria, prompted by the wine, promises that while he lived in the house, there would always be food to eat. It is a large promise, with implications that worried Pilon and Pablo, but he was sincere. "We shall be very happy living here," Pilon says in conclusion.

Chapter 7

In Monterey, there was a character that was known only as the Pirate. Every morning, the Pirate chopped a wheelbarrow full of pitch wood, which he sold as firewood. When the wood was sold, the Pirate would visit the back doors of four or five restaurants, from which he received packages of leftover food for his dogs. He had five dogs, whose names were Pajarito, Rudolph, Enrique, Fluff, and Senor Alec Thompson. Every night, the Pirate retired to an abandoned, cramped chicken house with his dogs. The dogs were the Pirates best friends; they kept him warm at night and they alerted him to any incoming danger. Whereas the Pirate's body was quite large and developed, his mind was not. His mind was still like that of a child's, so he often avoided talking to people. Most people knew at least a little about the pirate from seeing him with his load of wood, but Pilon knew everything about him.

Pilon knew everything about almost everyone in town, but the Pirate was special. Pilon had realized that the pirate had been selling his driftwood for a quarter each day for a long time without ever being known to spend any of it. Pilon did the math, and realized that the Pirate must have accumulated at least $100 over his years of work, and therefore must be hiding it in the woods somewhere. Pilon felt bad for the pirate, but at once realized the opportunity to benefit from the situation. The pirate must not understand the value of money, Pilon surmises, for he has no warm cloths or good food to eat. Pilon wants the Pirate to have those things, but having no money of his own, he cannot give them to him. However, if he were to offer the Pirate use of his mind, then it would be an act of merit. Pilon is proud of his plan, so much so that he wants to tell Pablo, but he realizes that if he tells anyone else, the goodness of his idea might be corrupted.

He goes to the Pirate's shack late one night, and though the Pirate is initially hesitant to let him in, Pilon wins his way by offering a sugar cookie. The Pirate splits the cookie into seven pieces, which he distributes among Pilon, himself, and his dogs. Pilon starts his argument by telling the Pirate that he has friends that are worried about his health. Sleeping in the chicken house without warm cloths or blankets and eating food that other people throw away is unhealthy. Pilon reveals that he knew that the pirate had hidden money, and he offers his expertise in spending it. The Pirate is overjoyed of the news that he had friends, but denies the existence of any hidden money. He claims that he had given his daily quarter away to an elderly woman every day.

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