Tortilla Flat: Novel Summary: Chapter VI-VII
After his initial anger and dismay, Danny is pleased to have lost his house, since it removes the burden of responsibility. But he decides he does not want to appear soft, so he must say something to his friends before he lets them back into his affections.
Meanwhile, Pablo, Pilon and Jesus Maria wake up after a long night in the pine forest. They agree to go back to Danny's house and apologize for their negligence. Before they do so, they steal some devilled eggs from a nearby picnic party, and when they arrive at Danny they are weighed down with other items, such as oranges and ham sandwiches. Danny abuses them for a while, but soon he forgives them and they are all friends again. They reach an unspoken agreement that all four of them will live in the house together. Pilon sighs with pleasure to be relieved of the burden of paying rent (even though he never paid it). But then Jesus Maria makes a rash promise. So grateful is he for Danny's hospitality that he promises that it is their duty to see that Danny never goes hungry and that there is always food in the house for him. Pablo and Pilon are alarmed at this, and hope that Danny forgets about it.
This chapter relates the story of a man named the Pirate, and the attempts of Danny and his friends to acquire his buried treasure (all for the benefit of the Pirate, of course). The Pirate is a huge man with the mind of a child. He lives with his five dogs in a deserted chicken house in the yard of a deserted house. Each day, early in the morning, he scrounges food from restaurants and eats it with his dogs in a vacant lot. Then he takes his wheelbarrow into the woods, finds a dead tree full of pitch, and fills his barrow with kindling. He walks around town until he sells the load for twenty-five cents. But the Pirate never spends any money. Instead, he goes to the woods at night and buries his quarter somewhere.
Pilon figures out that the Pirate is hoarding money, and thinks he must have at least a hundred dollars stashed away. Pilon, who is concerned about the promise they made to Danny to keep him in food, convinces himself that he feels sorry for the Pirate. The Pirate cannot take care of himself properly, Pilon thinks. Pilon would like to help him, but of course he has no money. Then he realizes that the way to do so is to use the Pirate's money to help him.
That night, Pilon goes to visit the Pirate at the chicken house, taking a big cookie with him. He is wary of the dogs, but he manages to convince the Pirate, who calms the growling dogs, to let him inside. Pilon presents him with the cookie, and the Pirate shares it with his dogs. Pilon then manages to convince the Pirate that he is a worry to his friends because he lives in a chicken house and clothes himself in rags and eats garbage. The Pirate is astonished to hear this, since he did not realize he had any friends. Pilon says his friends would like to help him but they have no money. He goes on to tell the Pirate that if he has any money hidden, he should bring it out in the open and spend it on clothes. But the Pirate denies he has any money elsewhere. Pilon realizes that the man has more guile than he gave him credit for, and that the Pirate's money must be found by stealth.
Over the next days, Pilon follows the Pirate into the forest and lies in wait for him at night outside the chicken house. But he has no success in finding the hoard, so he consults his friends. They agree that Pilon's idea to help the Pirate with his own money is a wonderful one, and they come up with a plan. Jesus Maria suggests they invite the Pirate to live at their house, since it will be easier to watch him there and get his secret from him. They all go to visit the Pirate and tell him that the worry they feel about him is killing them. They persuade the surprised man to come and live with them.
Now living with the four friends, the Pirate continues his daily routine as before. His new housemates enjoy the food he brings back with him, and the Pirate is convinced that his new friends do indeed love him. But he does notice that at least one of them is always watching him, or accompanying him wherever he goes.
After a week, the friends bring up the issue of the desirability of hiding one's money. Pilon and Danny come up with some tall tales about how their relatives used to bury money, only to have it stolen. The Pirate is terrified. That night he creeps out of the house, followed by his dogs, followed by Pilon. But after two miles Pilon is winded and has to rest. He loses the Pirate. When he returns to the house two hours later, the Pirate is fast asleep among his dogs.
In the morning, the friends consult, and Jesus Maria suggests that in the evening, they give the Pirate some wine. As the Pirate sits happily drinking the wine, Pilon tells another story of a man who buried his money, only to have it stolen. The others join in with their own similar stories. But the Pirate simply smiles in relief. That night, they all follow the Pirate to the forest, but like Pilon on the previous night, they lose him.
The next morning they see on the living room table a large canvas bag. The Pirate admits that he has money in the bag, and he knows it will be safe with his friends. No one will steal it from him now. He says he is saving up to buy a gold candlestick for St. Francis of Assisi because St. Francis answered his prayer to cure his sick dog. The Pirate is very happy, but the four friends know that they have forfeited their chance of ever getting their hands on his money.
In Chapter VI, when Danny rails at his friends for their negligence, he is really only acting out a role. He is willing to mimic the behavior of a person in conventional society who has just lost his house, but he has none of the attachment to his property that would be considered normal in a property owner. In truth, Danny feels relieved at the loss of the house because ownership is only a burden. It is not part of the code of these unusual "knights,?and the loss of it allows the values of friendship to reassert themselves. There is also a religious sensibility that hovers over this set of values. Earthly property has a "transitory quality,?Danny realizes, that makes "spiritual property so much more valuable.?The loyalty of the friends to one another is part of that spiritual property that is only spoiled by material attachments.
By the end of Chapter VII, four of the "knights?of Danny's round table have been assembled. Chapter VI introduces the fifth member of their little band of brothers, the Pirate. Although the motives of the four friends in inviting the Pirate to live with them are less altruistic than they claim, the friendship they extend to him is genuine. They also demonstrate again that underlying their values is a spiritual understanding. They realize that their invitation to the Pirate "had been inspired by that weary and anxious angel who guarded their destinies and protected them from evil.?They also show that there is honor among thieves. After the Pirate brings his treasure into the house and tells them what he is saving the money for, there is never a possibility that the other men with steal it. They are bound by their own code of honor.