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FREE Study Guide-Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck-Book Summary
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How Danny brooded and became mad. How the Devil in the shape of Torrelli assaulted Danny's house


Every day on Tortilla Flat is exactly the same. Time is predictable. This begins to upset Danny, as he recalls his previous days of freedom. Unlike the beginning of the story, this is because he is feeling the weight of ownership-it is because he misses his freedom. Danny became so sullen that his friends thought he was ill. He brooded for one month and then ran away. The friends believe he has found a girl, but after one week they become concerned because that is too long. They are worried that he may need their help.

The friends seek Danny in the woods to no avail. When they return home they see that his belongings (blanket, pots, food etc) are missing. They believe Danny has gone mad. Soon, they hear reports of Danny frolicking throughout the town. They decide they must find him and that, eventually, he will go to Torrelli’s. They find that Danny has already been to Torrelli’s and caused much upset and destruction. Danny continued to take everything in the house-including the stove and the Pirate’s wheelbarrow-to sell or trade. All of the peace left the house; they friends were all sad.

One day, Danny steals Pilon’s shoes and the friends decide that he has gone too far. He must be stopped because this is a crime against friendship-if Danny will commit a crime against his own friends, then he will do anything.

It seems that Danny was put in jail for throwing an egg at a police officer. The jailer, Tito Ralph (who became the jailer when, from being a prisoner, knew the most about the jail) was fired when they all escaped. Apparently, when Tito Ralph drinks, as he was when Danny was brought in, he forgets he is the jailer, not a prisoner, and escapes.

Torrelli, who never leaves his place to visit anyone, is seen walking to Danny’s house. Furthermore, he is smiling, which is highly unnatural for him. He tells the friends that they can no longer live there, because Danny sold the house to him for twenty-five dollars. He has a paper to prove it. The friends take the paper, burn it, and say that they never saw it.

Danny return with Tito Ralph and some food. He says that he did not sign the paper. Pilon thinks they should do something nice for Torrelli.


The main purpose of this chapter is to bring back Danny’s initial conflict between his house (material culture) and his former lifestyle (natural freedom). The concern of Danny’s friends and their steadfast commitment to him (even when he sells away their home) illustrates the bond of their friendship. Other than these two elements, the chapter is primarily a furthering force to bring the book into the conclusion stage.

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FREE Study Guide-Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck-Synopsis/Analysis


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