Tortilla Flat: Character Profiles

Jesus Maria Corcoran:  Jesus Maria Corcoran is one of Dannys friends. He is a humanitarian, and “kindness [is] always in him.?It is Jesus Maria who makes the rash promise that the friends will ensure that there is always food in the house for Danny; he readily comes to the aid of the corporal with the sick baby; he also befriends and helps Teresina Cortez when he discovers that she and her young children do not have anything to eat. He is, as the narrator says, “irresistibly drawn?to relieve pain and suffering.
The Corporal:  The corporal is a young boy of sixteen who flees with his sick baby to Monterey from Mexico after a captain in the army steals his wife. Jesus Maria befriends him. The boy has no thoughts of revenge against the officer; he merely wants the best for his son. Unfortunately, the baby dies.
Angelica Cortez:  Angelica Cortez is the mother of Teresina. She is described as “that ancient, dried, toothless one,?although she is not quite fifty years old.
Teresina Cortez:  Teresina Cortez is a young woman of about thirty with nine children. Her husband left her when she was about sixteen, and the babies have been fathered by a number of different men. Teresina feeds her family entirely on beans and tortillas, but they are healthy in spite of their limited diet.
Danny:  Danny is the leader of the group of paisanos, his house serving as the symbolic Round Table of King Arthur and his knights. Danny, who is small and dark, was born and raised in Tortilla Flat. At the age of twenty-five he joins the army to fight in World War I, although he ends up in Texas breaking mules. After the war, he is fortunate enough to inherit two houses after his grandfather dies, but he does not really want the burden of being a property owner. He would sooner be free to continue his usual carefree lifestyle of drinking, fighting and petty larceny. However, Danny is a generous man who is capable of deep and lasting friendship, which is why no less than five of his friends end up living at his house. They are all devoted to him. But Danny eventually tires of the monotonous life they lead and tries to recapture the wild spirit of his former days. When he disappears from their home, his friends think he has gone mad and try to capture him and cure him. When he returns of his own free will the friends throw one final, stupendous party in Dannys honor that becomes legendary in Tortilla Flat. But Danny does not survive it, going out of the house drunk and falling down a cliff.
Tia Ignacia:  Tia Ignacia is a middle-aged widow, a taciturn and harsh woman who takes a fancy to Big Joe Portagee when he runs into her house to escape the rain.
Mrs. Morales :  Mrs. Morales is Dannys neighbor. She owns her own house and has two hundred dollars in the bank, so it is not surprising that at one point Danny befriends her and spends his evenings in her house.
Pablo:  Pablo is one of the “knights?who live in Dannys house. Initially, he is invited by his friend Pilon to share the house Pilon is renting. Then when the house burns down he goes with Pilon to live with Danny. Pablo is a mild, good-natured man. is not a leader. He is not shown as having any adventures of his own. He tends to go along with what the others say.
Pilon:  Pilon is the brains of Dannys group of paisanos. He and Danny have been friends for a long time and Pilon is the first to join up with Danny in Dannys house. Pilon is a wily, cunning, and resourceful man who always has a plan of action. Most of the initiatives taken by the men begin with Pilon, such as the attempt with Big Joe to find the treasure in the forest and the reclaiming of the vacuum cleaner from Dolores. Pilon possesses a strong personality and takes charge in difficult situations. He is also a generous and kind-hearted soul. He shows his generosity early when he is willing to share his brandy with Danny. Pilon is a lover of beauty and a mystic. He feels his connection to God through the beauty of nature. He is also aware of his dual personality-he has a good side and a less-than-good side. He can be pure-hearted and selfless and he can also be “That not too perfect Pilon, who plotted and fought, who drank and cursed.?
The Pirate :  The Pirate is a huge man physically but mentally he is childlike. He survives by cutting wood and selling it around town. He buries the quarter he earns each day at a secret hiding place in the forest. The Pirates goal is to save a thousand quarters so he can buy a gold candlestick for St. Francis. He is devoted to the saint because he believes that St. Francis once saved the life of his dog. The Pirate is always accompanied by his five dogs who are fiercely loyal to him and protect him. Dannys men at first want to get his money, but they have no success, and when he brings the treasure in from the forest and puts it under Dannys pillow, his innocence and simplicity win them over. He becomes one of the group, and no one touches his money. In fact, Danny and his friends do everything they can to help him reach his goal. He eventually gets his wish fulfilled and is in church to see his gold candlestick alight and dedicated to St. Francis. He even believes that his dogs are granted a vision of the saint.
Big Joe Portagee:  Big Joe Portagee is the last of the “knights?to come and live at Dannys house. This makes a welcome change for him, since as a good-for-nothing who spends most of his time drinking, fighting, and whoring, he is more familiar with being in jail than living in normal society. To an extent, Big Joe is the black sheep of the group and has to be kept in line by the others. Pilon, who is angry with him because Big Joe takes Dannys blanket, has to teach him a lesson. Big Joe, who is not very bright, is easily dominated and outwitted by the wily Pilon. Big Joes biggest transgression is when he tries to steal the Pirates bag full of money, and the men give him a severe beating to make sure he never does such a thing again.
Tito Ralph :  Tito Ralph is the jailer in Monterey, a position he attained because he had been in jail so often he knew exactly how the jail should be run. He loses his job because when he drinks wine he forgets he is the jailer, and not only allows the prisoners to escape, he escapes, too.
Dolores Engracia Ramirez:  Dolores Engracia Ramirez lives in her own house on the upper edge of Tortilla Flat. She is not pretty but because of her voice, the way she moves and her throaty voice, some men find her attractive. She is known as “Sweets?because she often shows amorous intent toward men. Dolores sets her sights on Danny when she hears he has become a property owner.
Father Ramon:  Father Ramon is the priest who buy the gold candlestick on behalf of the Pirate.
Cornelia Ruiz:  Cornelia Ruiz is a lively if somewhat unstable woman who has a lot of men friends. Danny and his friends often talk about her and find much to criticize in her behavior. Danny thinks she changes her mind too quickly. Pablo thinks that all she is interested in is “love and fighting.?
Torrelli :  Torrelli is the wine merchant in town. The paisanos do not like him and enjoy cheating him whenever they can. They also flirt with his wife. Torrelli, who is Italian, is often furious with them. He thinks he has finally got his revenge on them when a drunken Danny sells him his house for twenty-five dollars. But Dannys friends outwit Torrelli yet again and send him home empty-handed.