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by: John Steinbeck

Pilon

It is difficult to imagine a character as deep as Pilon in the setting of Tortilla Flat. Pilon is a truly beautiful soul. He is fiendishly quick witted, a store of knowledge, always ready to share, romantically in awe of nature, and an idealist. Pilon always aims to do what is right and has a very strong conscience. When he is out doing good, he is filled with a sense of divine satisfaction. He ungrudgingly shares his Brandy with Danny in the opening chapter of the book, even though brandy was the most rare of possible commodities in Tortilla Flat. He also tries very hard to obtain the rent for Danny even though it is not implicit that Danny really wanted or needed any. Pilon's only problem is that he can often be convinced (by himself or by others) to stray from the straight path of virtue to a somewhat twisted one, provided that the end result was in some way good. For example, Pilon obtains two dollars of rent to give to Danny, but then decides that he did not want Danny to hurt his teeth on the candy that he would surely buy with it. Instead, he buys two gallons of wine for his friend, but on the way to his house, he runs into an old friend. Pilon realizes that it would be impolite not to offer his friend some wine, and they end up drinking it back at Pilon's house.

At the end of Chapter 14, Pilon expresses an idea that truly epitomizes his character. He explains that when he was younger, he and his brothers had thrown rocks at the trains as they passed. The engineers on the trains had responded by throwing lumps of coal back, which Pilon would take back to his home and use to heat the house. Pilon wanted to try to apply this principle to the fishing boats in Monterey. The friends would go down to the harbor and throw rocks at the boats as they came in from the day's fishing. The fisherman would want to throw something back, and having only fish at hand, they would throw them at the paisanos. In this way, they would have something to eat. It is typical of Pilon's ideas in that it is harmless, aimed at the well being of all, and a victimless crime.


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The Pirate

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