Tortilla Flat Essay

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Jewelers put diamonds and sapphires on velvet in order to display the jewels and make them look more impressive. In Tortilla Flat, John Steinbeck is the jeweler and his characters are the diamonds. Steinbeck’s embellished tone toward his characters is a pretense to show off his characters and present them as more admirable and chivalric than their outward actions would honestly allow. His admiring tone towards his characters in Tortilla Flat contributes to the emphasis of “simple things” presented throughout the novel. Each chapter in Tortilla Flat is a stand-alone narrative, and the title of each one humorously makes the reader assume that the characters are going to accomplish great feats, but really the characters do not do anything …show more content…
They justify all of their crude behavior – their drinking, their lack of responsibility, and their stealing. However, the reader finds it hard to condemn them because of the affectionate and adoring tone that Steinbeck has towards them. His tone has the reader convinced that the characters are more naïve than dangerous; more innocent than purposefully destructive. Steinbeck puts on a pretense to make it seem like what the characters do is not really bad but is acceptable in their environment. Steinbeck “wished to ‘explore the strong but philosophical-moral systems’ of these paisanos.” (59 Stanley) Steinbeck shows that cultural values are at a dissonance and that if we want to fully understand what motivates people than we need to evaluate their cultural ideals. In the town of Tortilla Flat, Danny and his friends are not necessarily viewed as contributing members of the society by the other paisanos, but they are an indissoluble part of the community. The characters do what they do because they value the simple things in life. While Steinbeck ‘“does not hold ‘poor diet and filth as being ‘quaint or superior to more civilized forms of living’” (60 Stanley) he shows through his devoted tone that his characters are to be respected because they are content with living the simple life as valued by their

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