Tortilla Flat

Context

Overview

1942 still from the Tortilla Flat movieIn his first commercially successful novel, Tortilla Flat (1935), John Steinbeck creates his own modern day version of Camelot and King Arthur's roundtable; it is "the story of Danny and Danny's friends and of Danny's house" (1). As a twist on local color fiction, Tortilla Flat records semi-mythic events from the lives of the paisanos from Monterey County. Episodic in nature, the tales recount the escapades of Danny and his group of ragged and drunken friends as they drink, fight, engage in random acts of petty theft and, occasionally, do good deeds. The hilarious, drunken adventures of the kind-hearted yet misguided paisanos makes for a rousing, seemingly frivolous little novel. Under the comedic surface, however, is a provoking picture of alcoholism and poverty that reminds readers of the substandard social status of Mexican-Americans in California in the 1930s.

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