Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The book portrays with great sympathy and humour a group of paisanos (bums), denouncing society by enjoying life and wine in the midst of the Great Depression.
Steinbeck gives a description of what a paisano is: "He is a mixture of Spanish, Indian, Mexican and assorted Caucasian bloods. His ancestors have lived in California for a hundred or two years. (...) (H)e lives in that uphill district above the town of Monterey called Tortilla Flat, though it isn't a flat at all."
The central character Danny inherits two houses from his grandfather where he and his friends go to live. The riotous adventures they have are compared to the exploits of the Knights of King Arthur. Saint Francis appears as their patron saint.
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