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Tortilla Flat

John Steinbeck

The Pirate

Characters The Pirate

One of the goals of John Steinbeck's literature is to expose the intrinsic beauty of simple things. The touching innocence and sincerity of The Pirate is a perfect example of this. It is thought by some that the Pirate was a prototype for Steinbeck's most famous gentle giant of limited mental capacity, Lenie, one of the main characters in Of Mice and Men. The Pirate is a gigantic man with the mind of a child. Everyone in Monterey saw him everyday, but no one knew him because he was reluctant to speak. When he was forced into confrontation, he took on the expression of an animal that wanted to flee. Whereas people scared him, the Pirate found comfort in the companionship of his five dogs. The dogs were was blanket on cold nights and became his sixth sense, warning him against concealed danger. He loved the dogs so much that when he portioned off the day's food, he would give the best items to the dogs and the most modest morsels to himself.

When Pilon catches on to the fact that the Pirate must have accumulated a large stash of money from his daily woodcutting, the Pirate is no match for the manipulative wits of Danny's friends. The Pirate falls right into their trap, but when he explains the reason for his savings, the friends are so touched by his simplicity and sincerity that they cannot scam him out of the money. Instead, the Pirate becomes one of Danny's closest friends with the money as the physical center point of their bond. Though he rarely contributes to conversations, the Pirate finds comfort at Danny's house for the first time with other adults. He thrives on being part of the group and, in exchange for their kindness, the Pirate brings Danny and the other friends food every day.