Study Guide

Tortilla Flat The Home

By John Steinbeck

The Home

Danny's House in Tortilla Flat is so much more than just a house. It's a symbol of the band of friends who live in it; the friends are even collectively known as "Danny's House."

There's a difference between houses and homes here. It's funny that at first, Danny is totally upset when he inherits a couple of houses; he doesn't want the pressure of owning houses to bring him down. But after one house burns down and his friends move in with him rent-free, he feels like they're all on a level playing field: the house is still his, but it sort of belongs to everyone.

It's the people who make the house into a home, and once one of the people dies off, it's fitting that the house itself ends up burning down.

Questions About The Home

  1. Why is Danny so burdened by his inheritance? Why doesn't he just sell the house if he doesn't want to own it?
  2. What is the effect on the reader when the houses burn down? How would the novel be different if the houses had been flooded, bulldozed, or abandoned?
  3. How do the friends' sleeping positions in the house reflect their positions in the gang?

Chew on This

Tortilla Flat is an example of the non-traditional home life that was becoming more and more common between the World Wars in the U.S.

Tortilla Flat shows that ownership of land is unnatural and causes problems for the owner.