Study Guide

Tortilla Flat Chapter 11: How, under the most adverse circumstances, love came to Big Joe Portagee.

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 11: How, under the most adverse circumstances, love came to Big Joe Portagee.

  • It rains all day long, and Big Joe Portagee hides under a rowboat at the beach to stay dry.
  • When the rain lets up in the afternoon, Big Joe makes a run for it to try to make it to Danny's house, but he's caught in a big downpour.
  • Big Joe runs to the nearest house, which happens to be owned by Tia Ignacia. She's a 45-year-old widow, and she's happy to see big Joe.
  • Tia Ignacia gives him all the wine he wants, which is better than the wine he's used to drinking. She is excited about her chances to get it on with Big Joe, but he won't talk to her or do anything but drink.
  • Finally, Big Joe just passes out, and this is too much for Tia Ignacia. She starts screaming at him and beating him, and then she chases him out into the muddy street. He grabs her arms to stop her from hitting him, and suddenly he feels, ahem, love for her.
  • A policeman stumbles across the two lovebirds in the middle of the street and tells them to get out of the road before they get run over.