Like the Knights of the Round Table, who were always symbolically learning something about their faith in their quests, the friends learn a lesson from their experience with the soldier. They learn how easy it is to misdirect good intentions, and how much harder the truly good road for those intentions can be. They are all quick to volunteer themselves for a revenge mission against the capitan, but the good caporal has not even thought of this. If the caporal revenged himself on the capitan, his life and the life of his child would be over. They would immediately know who committed the crime, and it can be assumed that Mexican military discipline at the time was swift and stern. By simply desiring for the child to be a general without further intention for the child's life, he was doing the best he could in a situation where the instinctive emotional response would ruin them all. He also does not try to bend the child's life towards killing the capitan later in life, which shows his good fatherly commitment towards allowing the child's spirit to be free. It is also important to note that he does this with the knowledge that he could have the child grow up to kill the capitan. Following the wise man's guidance, he could have said to the child every day, "You will kill the capitan," but he did not. The friends recognize the superior foresight and goodness of the caporal and are honored to have met him.

Steinbeck makes it seem ridiculous that Big Joe does not make any advances on the widow Tia Ignacia, and indeed, it does seem unusual that an oaf of his stereotypical character would not be caught up in desire. It is a reflection of goodness upon Big Joe, however, that he does not conform to the expectations of the average paisano drunkard. He does not enter the house of the widow with any intentions other than desire for comfort and maybe a little wine. This is what allows him and the rest of Danny's band to receive so much sympathy from readers. They do not commit crimes every time the opportunity presents itself, and they do not do anything that really hurts anyone else. Steinbeck goes to great lengths to ensure that their crimes appear as victimless as possible. If Big Joe had walked into the house and acted on the vulnerability of the widow, that would have been wrong by the moral guidelines of the book. Drinking all of her wine, while not very nice, is forgivable, as it is just wine.