Tortilla Flat - Study Questions

  1. What are paisanos?  Describe the paisanos and their primary characteristics in Tortilla Flat.
  2. To what legendary figures does Steinbeck compare Danny and his friends?  How does the comparison influence your understanding of their actions?
  3. Why do Danny and his friends feel relieved when the second house burns down? 
  4. Describe how The Pirate becomes a member of the fellowship. 
  5. What role does Big Joe play in the story?  How does he fit into the group? 
  6. Who is Mr. Torrelli, and why do the friends have such a contentious relationship with him?             
  7. Why does Pilon believe that "happiness is better than riches" (77)? 
  8. Why do the friends not like Danny's relationship with "Sweets" Ramirez? 
  9. What lesson do the friends learn from the young Mexican soldier that Jesus Maria brings to the house? 
  10. What does Father Ramon say when The Pirate's dogs enter the church during mass?  Is it sacrilegious? 
  11. What do Danny and his friends do to help Teresina Cortez in her time of need? 
  12. What happens in the story that Jesus Maria tells about Petey Ravanno? 
  13. Why does Danny grow tired of the routine he has settled into?  What does he long for instead? 
  14. Why is it such a horrible thing that Danny steals Pilon's shoes?  What does it say about his values? 
  15. What do the inhabitants of Tortilla Flat do to help out with Danny's party? 
  16. Describe the events at the party that lead up to Danny's death. 
  17. Why don't Danny's friends attend his funeral? 
  18. What happens to Danny's house?  Why do the friends let this happen?

Setting | Character Summaries | Plot Synopsis | Critical Reception
Cultural References | Key Terms and Concepts | Major Themes