Study Guide

Tortilla Flat Chapter 3: How the poison of possessions wrought with Pilon, and how evil temporarily triumphed in him.

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 3: How the poison of possessions wrought with Pilon, and how evil temporarily triumphed in him.

  • Pilon goes to live in the other house, but he and Danny spend a lot of time together.
  • Every time Pilon gets a little money, he intends to give it to Danny for rent... but he usually gets sidetracked and spends it on wine.
  • Pilon and Danny have a couple of girls over, but they end up fighting. The girls join in, kicking them when they're down.
  • Pilon and Danny cry over their lost girls and get into another fight. This wild night makes Pilon feel like he has shown Danny a good time, which in his mind means that he doesn't really owe Danny rent for a while.
  • When he feels guilty again, Pilon works for two days cleaning squid; he makes two bucks. He spends it on wine instead of giving it to Danny, of course, because spending it on wine seems friendlier to him.
  • There is a really weird moment on Pilon's way to Danny's when he stops and has a mystical experience, and his soul becomes very pure. But then he gets hungry and returns to his normal self.
  • Since he had been to Heaven, according to the narrator, Pilon was very vulnerable to evil influences. He sees his old friend Pablo Sanchez in a ditch on the side of the road, out of jail and on parole. They go to Pilon's house and drink the wine that was meant for Danny.
  • Pilon talks Pablo into coming to live with him and charges him fifteen dollars a month in rent—which is exactly the amount Pilon is supposed to pay Danny. This gives Pilon an excuse for not paying the rent, because he can always tell Danny that as soon as Pablo pays, he will.
  • The two men think back to when they were children. They think that they haven't been happy since then.