Tortilla Flat: Metaphor Analysis
Danny and his friends seem to be perpetually drinking wine. It is what they most enjoy doing. They can spend hours together talking and swapping stories over wine. Even though they have little money, they seem always able to obtain some wine from somewhere. On the surface, this might suggest that they are merely drunks and layabouts, who drink to escape their responsibilities in life. But the drinking of wine, in this novel, really symbolizes the joy of life and the value of friendship. When Danny's group drink wine together, the bond between them is strengthened. Set against wine, understood as the joy of life, is the burden of responsibility, of taking part in an oppressive and unjust society that emphasizes power relations and material possessions.
Danny's house is the symbolic center of the friendship that exists between the group of men. It is the equivalent of the Round Table of the Arthurian knights, a visible structure in which the fraternity can meet and flourish.
The Canvas Bag
Within the house, hidden under the pillow on Danny's bed, is the canvas bag that contains the Pirate's treasure. Each day, the Pirate hands over the quarter he has earned to Danny, and Danny solemnly places it in the canvas bag. This is a kind of daily ritual. The bag of money, as is stated in chapter 12, becomes "the symbolic center of the friendship, the point of trust about which the fraternity revolved.?It gives meaning to the men's lives, since they know they are saving the money for a worthy and holy cause, the buying of the gold candlestick for dedication to St. Francis. The canvas bag therefore symbolizes the spiritual underpinnings of the men's lives. They are, despite the oddness and apparent aimlessness of their daily lives, devoted to a spiritual cause that holds deep meaning for them.