Chapter 17 Summary

Danny’s funeral becomes a community event. No matter what people thought about Danny when he lived, all of them plan to celebrate his life. He is no longer Danny the scourge of the neighborhood; he is Danny the hero.

Since he had served in the army, Danny is eligible for a military funeral. The government embalms his body at government expense, and a caisson already has been prepared for the parade to the cemetery. This causes all the women to remember him more fondly than they had in life. People clean their finest clothes for the memorial service.

On the second day after Danny’s death, the friends gradually realize their grief, at least once the wine wears off. They also realize that they who had loved Danny the most and had most benefited from his generosity cannot go to the funeral. They have no good clothes to wear. Their shirts and jeans are now even more ripped and tattered because of the wild party. Everyone in Tortilla Flat will attend the funeral except for Danny’s friends.

Pilon suggests that they go out and steal suits. Jesus Maria suggests the Salvation Army, but all they have at the moment are dresses. Tito Ralph arrives, dressed in his finest, but quickly leaves when the friends give him dirty looks. The friends realize that they cannot even cut squid for money in time to earn enough for six suits.

Pilon comes up with a solution: They will go to the funeral in what clothes they have, but they will stand on the other side of the street. They realize that this is better than not going.

The day of the funeral proves to be a beautiful day. All of Tortilla Flat goes to the church for the service while the friends wait at the cemetery. They tell stories of Danny as they wait for the cortege. They stand on the curb while Danny is buried with a full military salute.

Afterward, they walk toward Danny’s house. They stop by Torrelli’s, which is empty. Pilon climbs in a window and takes two gallons of wine.

They return to Danny’s house, where they drink the wine. Tito Ralph joins them. Pilon lights a cigar and throws the match away. The match lands on an old newspaper, which catches fire. The friends stand up to stamp it out, but each one pauses. The fire spreads to the wall. Each man separately decides to let it go.

They watch as the fire climbs, smiling as it burns. As the fire trucks approach, the friends leave. The crowds gather to watch the end of Danny’s house. The friends scatter, no two walking together, each one alone.