Chapter 9 Summary

Dolores Engracia Ramirez lives on the upper edge of Tortilla Flat, where she does housework for some of the wealthier ladies. Her attractiveness and passionate nature have earned her the nickname “Sweets.”

Sweets likes to lean across her front gate, enticing men. When she learns that Danny has inherited two houses, she is determined to catch him for herself, envisioning a life as Danny’s lady. 

Unfortunately, Danny seldom goes by her house. However, she patiently waits until one day he walks by. She asks why he never comes to see her, hinting at what he will find if he does. Danny has just come from cashing in some copper nails he found and now has three dollars. He unwisely tells her of his newfound wealth. She invites him to come back when it is dark.

Danny walks down the street, thinking of the prospects of a night of love, when he encounters Pablo. Danny has no times for friends, but Pablo goes to Torrelli’s to buy two gallons of wine, one for friends and one for Sweets.

Danny invites Pablo to go with him to the jewelry store (not trusting him to be alone with an untended jug of wine), where he spies a vacuum cleaner. He decides that Sweets will like the vacuum cleaner better than jewelry because no one else in Tortilla Flat has one. He completely ignores the fact that no one has one because no one has electricity in their homes.

Nevertheless, Sweets is impressed by the gift and pushes the “sweeping machine” across her floors, even though she has no electricity. In gratitude for the gift, Sweets spends several nights with Danny. However, her gratitude does not reach being willing to sleep with his friends.

Pilon and the others soon resent Danny’s absences with a woman. They reason that if she no longer has the vacuum cleaner, she will no longer take up so much of Danny’s time. Pilon manages to sneak the vacuum out of her house, hiding it in a sack with a rose bush. He takes it to Torrelli’s, where he trades it for two gallons of wine, one for his friends and one for Sweets.

When Danny learns what Pilon has done, he decides that he is tired of Sweets anyway and they drink both gallons of wine, especially when Pablo tells him that Sweets expects him to pay for getting her house wired for electricity. The friends decide that it is not wise to buy a woman a gift that will eventually require another gift.