Study Guide

Tortilla Flat Chapter 10: How the Friends solaced a Corporal and in return received a lesson in paternal ethics.

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 10: How the Friends solaced a Corporal and in return received a lesson in paternal ethics.

  • Jesus Maria is a very good man and has a knack for finding people in need and helping him.
  • One day, Jesus Maria runs across a policeman talking to a Mexican man carrying a baby. Jesus Maria and decides to take the dude home.
  • The dude explains that he is a corporal in the Mexican army. He says his baby is sick but that when he grows up, he'll be a general.
  • Someone told the corporal that if he tells the baby over and over what he wants him to do, then the baby will do it. So the corporal tells his baby twenty times a day that he will be a general.
  • The corporal tells the story of how he married a beautiful woman, but his boss, the captain, stole her from him. She ran off and left the baby with the corporal.
  • The friends think that the corporal must have killed the captain, but the corporal didn't; he just came to California with his baby.
  • The baby starts to have spasms and dies right there in Danny's house.
  • The corporal is totally bummed that his son will never be a general, and Pilon tells him that he must go back to Mexico and kill the captain. He thinks that the corporal was trying to get his son to be a general in order to get revenge on the captain someday... but it turns out the corporal isn't all that vengeful.
  • The corporal says he'll go back to Mexico and keep working as a soldier, and maybe he'll become an officer someday.
  • Danny's friends are proud to have met the corporal.