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FREE Study Guide-Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck-Book Summary
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES - Tortilla Flat

CHAPTER 16

Of the sadness of Danny. How through sacrifice Danny's friends gave a party. How Danny was translated

Summary

After Danny has returned he is very tired and listless. Danny is not entertained, as usual, by the goings on of the town. Danny’s house became quiet. The friends tried everything to cheer him. One day, Pilon noticed that when he gave Danny wine it made him a bit livelier. When he shared this with the other friends, they decided Danny might benefit from a party. The next day the friends went to Chin Kee’s squid yard to cut squid for money. The town buzzed with the news, and soon everyone knew of the party. Everyone prepared things to bring to the party-music, food, etc. The friends made fourteen dollars at the squid yard.


When the friends return home the house is decorated and the food is ready-yet, there is no sign of Danny. After a while, they go to find him. They found him, sad, by the water. He told them he was not sick when the inquired. They told him about the party and he led them, running, back home. The party was such a tremendous success, that no one ever tried to compare another to it ever again. Danny came to be regarded as magnificent. He and the party became the objects of glorious overstatement. During the party, people said that Danny began to change form. He became frightening and challenged everyone to a fight with a table leg. When no one would fight him, he left the house to find the one that would. They could hear him challenge; they heard a terrifying answering challenge. Then, they heard a thump. They waited inside.

Finally, Pilon led them outside and found a broken and twisted Danny-fallen forty-five feet. The paisanos dragged doctors and priest from their beds to come help Danny. Meanwhile, the remaining paisanos pulled Danny from the gulch and laid him in his bed. Danny had died.

Notes

The specific details of Danny’s death are unclear. It can be assumed that the minutiae of his death are unimportant, as the main point is that Danny died. What should be considered is “why.” On a literal level we understand he fell; however, the circumstances that led him to the gulch in the first place are very important. A consistently reoccurring theme in this novel is happiness in freedom. We find that Danny’s happiest times are when he is wandering, and without the responsibility of owning property. The accumulation of stuff is antithetical to his existence. Therefore, when he realizes that he is no longer free, he begins his downfall.

From the very beginning Danny felt the weight of his property. As friends began to accumulate in his house, his responsibility grew. As life became more and more routine, his free spirit was squelched. While his death is presented as accident, it is worthwhile to consider it otherwise. In fact, it can be argued that Danny died when he returned to the house after his escapade of disappearing alone.

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