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In the town of Tortilla Flat above beautiful Monterey lived a group of men called the paisanos. They were drunkards, thieves, ruffians, and vagabonds, but they were also surprisingly good at heart; requiring little more from life than friendship and a little wine. Among these paisanos were Danny, Pilon, Pablo, Jesus Maria, and Big Joe Portagee. When the First World War broke out, these paisanos decided to enlist in a fir of drunken patriotism. None of them actually made it anywhere near combat, and soon returned to Monterey to find it more or less as they had left it. One thing was different however, Danny’s grandfather had died and left Danny two houses.
Pilon is thefirst to find Danny after the war, and Danny allows his friend to rent the other house from him. Gradually, the rest of the group turns up, and Pilon convinces them to rent rooms in the second house. One night, after a good amount of wine, the house burns down, and though Danny is angry atfirst, he allows the friends to move in with him. At Danny’s house, they form a group, which Steinbeck often compares to the Knights of the Round Table. Indeed, they engage in many quests, some noble, and some downright sinful, enjoying companionship and the comfort of a roof to the fullest.
Most of the group’s quests revolve around the acquisition of money, but in one case, they find a new friend instead. There was a paisano in town named the Pirate who was somewhat slow witted. He could be seen walking the streets and perusing the restaurants for scraps with his five dogs (his best friends and protectors). He chopped wood every day and sold it for a quarter in town. Pilon noticed that the Pirate never spent any money, and deduced that he must be hiding it somewhere. Pilon follows the bum all over trying to locate the stash, going so far as to invite him to stay in Danny’s house so that they can keep a better watch over him. In living with the pirate, the friends grow compass…