by John Steinbeck
Hazel, Eddie, Gay, Hughie and Jones all live in the Palace Flophouse with Mack. Most of the time they're a unit, "Mack and the boys." They're like the opposite of a composite character: they're one character split into five bodies, or like one big animal with six heads. A hydra, say. Or a hive-mind.
So what do they do? They're comic relief, sidekicks for Mack's mastermind, and slices of life. Let's give them their own little moment in the sun:
We know what you're thinking: Hazel is a girl's name. See, his mom thought he would be a girl, and she never bothered to change his name. Well, with that kind of burden , it's no wonder that he grew up quick and mean. Hazel's been to reform school and prison, and, big surprise, he "didn't learn anything in either place" (6.5). His big moment is when he goes out collecting animals with Doc to make a little money.
Eddie often fills in as a bartender at La Ida, where he pours all of the unfinished drinks into a big jug. The resulting delicious concoction is "punch," the Palace's house drink.
Remind us not accept refreshments there.
We don't learn all that much about Jones, though he does criticize Eddie's punch, a big party foul (13.18). By the end of the novel, though, Eddie takes his advice and doesn't put beer in it anymore. So, score one for Jonesy.
Hughie is a bit of a mystery. He doesn't get a story or have much to say. So, really, we're just including him here so he doesn't feel left out.
Gay is the most recent addition to the Palace. His wife used to beat him up while he was sleeping, so we understand why doesn't seem to mind spending a lot of time in the Salinas Jail. See, in jail he can play checkers with the sheriff, and all the cells have radios.
Gay's superpower is that he's a really talented mechanic, who manages to get Lee Chong's Model T working. So, good guy to have around.