Alexander Cicconi-Kasper Page #1
May 5th, 2013
The Forming of a Family in Tortilla Flat
Do you have a family, probably, right? Does your family necessarily have to be blood related or is it possible that you can love someone enough for them to be your family without actually being genetically linked to them? The truth is, if you love somebody enough, they are your family! There are many books I have read where people come together and form a family, even though they are not tied to each other by heredity. It seems many of the classic novels have situations with families built on common interests and compatibility instead of heredity.
Tortilla Flat is a novel written by John Steinbeck and published in 1935. Tortilla Flat is about Danny, Danny's friends: Pilon, Pablo, Jesus Maria Corcoran, the pirate, the pirate's dogs and Big Joe Portagee living in Danny's house, helping people around town, stealing things, drinking copious amounts of wine and other alcohol and later, hanging out with Johnny Pom-Pom and Tito Ralph. Most everybody living in tortilla flat (the neighborhood, not the book) calls themselves “paisanos.” A paisano is apparently a person who is a mixture of American, Native American Indian and Spanish descent. You could compare Danny and his friends to Robin Hood or to the knights of the round table.
Tortilla Flat starts off with Danny returning to Monterey, California, from the army. Danny returns after fighting in World War I. Danny realizes that he has inherited two houses in tortilla flat (the place not the book), from his grandfather. He is walking through the woods when he happens to cross paths with his friend Pilon. He tells Pilon about the two houses over a bottle of brandy and invites Pilon
Cicconi-Kasper Page #2
to come and stay with him, in his second house for fifteen dollars a month rent (which Pilon never pays but Danny doesn't care)
Pilon then rents the second house out to Pablo and invites him to stay for fifteen dollars a month. Subsequently, Pilon and Pablo invite their mutual friend Jesus Maria Corcoran to stay with them as well for fifteen dollars a month. None of them ever pay any rent to anyone and one night, they manage to burn their house to ashes. They all, then go stay with Danny and then the pirate and his dogs come to live with the gang too and after that Big Joe Portagee joins them as well. They get into many shenanigans such as stealing food to give to Senora Teressina Cortez, a “distressed lady,” with eight children and an “ancient mother” who she cannot feed.
Danny then gets tired of having a house, like the weight of responsibility is crushing him and he becomes mad and leaves. His friends find him and throw an enormous party in his honor. He parties like a maniac and then at the end of the party, while he is extremely drunk he runs and falls off a cliff, to his death. There is then a funeral held for him that his friends do not attend because they do not feel that they have the proper attire to pay their respects to their good and beloved friend Danny, properly. The friends watch Danny's funeral from a distance, then return to his old house defeatedly. They sit and reminisce about the glorious times that they shared with Danny. They then let Danny's house burn to the ground as if paying their respects to him that way. After the fire, they all go their separate ways into the cold Monterey night.
Throughout Tortilla Flat we learn what it takes to be a family from Danny and his friends or Danny and his family as I consider them. They all banded together around a common purpose, they all
Cicconi-Kasper Page #3
gave of themselves to each other and they all loved each other. By the end of the book, after the “Danny family” seemed to be fully formed Danny and his friends all had each other's backs and they all cared deeply for one another. They formed a family out of nothing but their love and their...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document