Chapter 16 Summary

Though Danny has returned to the house with his friends, his joy in living has not. He sits on the porch listlessly, not even swatting the flies away. He has no interest in Cornelia Ruiz’s quick succession of husbands. When Big Joe tries to sleep in Danny’s bed, Pilon and Pablo have to beat him.  

Danny will not join in any discussions of the doings of the local community. His friends are worried about how much Danny has changed. It seems that he tried to squeeze the good times of an entire life into three weeks of wildness, and now he is sick of fun. Jesus Maria asks Danny if there is some secret that he is keeping in his heart, but there is not.

Pilon gives him the last of the wine in the house, which seems to do him some good. The friends gather in the gulch behind Danny’s house and decide to go to work at Chin Kee’s place and pack squid to earn some money. They will throw a party for Danny.

The next morning, Danny awakens to find the house deserted, but it does not bother him. The rumor that Danny’s friends are planning a party for him spreads across Tortilla Flat. Plans are sent out from the squid yard. More and more people become involved.

Danny is oblivious to what is going around town. He wanders down to the wharf to be alone. His friends find him and tell him that there is a party being given in his honor.

Danny perks up and goes home. He is the life of the party, which becomes a legend in Tortilla Flat in the ensuing years. Danny drinks three gallons of wine and dances with all the girls. The night passes, and still Danny roars through the party. Later, the people say that Danny began to change form, becoming huge and terrible.

He challenges someone to come and fight him, but no one takes him up on it. He vows to go find someone worthy of his fighting skills and rushes out of the house. The partygoers hear him yell a last cry of defiance and then a thump.

Pilon realizes that something is wrong. He goes outside, calling Danny’s name. He goes down into the gulch and finds Danny, who fell over the edge and down forty feet. Pilon carries Danny back to the house. The priest is called.

Danny’s friends gather around him behind the closed door. The partygoers wait anxiously and realize, when the priest comes from the bedroom, that the unimaginable has happened.