Books and Movies Reviews

Tortilla Flat

1) Primarily post World War I, with the preface occurring before the war-during prohibition. Uphill of the Californian coastal city of Monterey lies the town of Tortilla Flat. It is inhabited by the paisanos, a hardy, simple race of men descended from the Spanish, the Indians, the Mexicans, and half a dozen other Caucasian heritages. When Danny arrived home from the war he discovered that his grandfather had died and left him the two houses in Tortilla Flat. The weight of the property immediately brings out the worst in Danny.
2) Danny: Leader of the pack, protagonist, owns the two houses.
Pilon: The thinker of the group, spiritual, like the beauty of nature.
Mr. Torrelli: Bootlegger, wealthy man, holds the towns wine supply.
3) Justifying Crime – Yes, Danny and his paisano friends are thieves, but they never commit a crime because they find it pleasurable to be doing something wrong or out of spite for someone. They only commit crimes when they can justify them to their admittedly loose moral system. They steal the picnic foods, for example, because it was cruel of the picnickers to show off their luxury in such a way, and because they needed something to smooth the way in talking to Danny about his house that they burned down. Most of their crimes are victimless, and the rest fit into the ‘rob the rich to feed the poor’ mentality reminiscent of Robin Hood. The pompous restaurant owners who would have thrown food out anyway, the railroad tycoons who could afford to lose a few nails and who were destroying their precious landscape anyway, and the miser Torrelli, who had so much wine and money that whatever they took meant nothing to him anyway, are a few examples. The greatest thrill for the paisanos is when they can steal for a truly good purpose, as is the case when they raid the warehouse in order to save Teresina Cortez’s children.
4) Above I wrote about the paisanos justifying their crimes. I believe that even though …

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