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Describe the setting of John Steinbeck's The Pearl.

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randhawa29 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 11, 2009 at 8:01 AM via web

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Describe the setting of John Steinbeck's The Pearl.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 11, 2009 at 8:38 AM (Answer #1)

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The Pearl is set in La Paz, Mexico, a poor coastal town with racial problems which evolved from colonial domination.  This setting provides the background for the conflicts that ensue from Kino's finding the Pearl of the World.  Uneducated in the ways of the world, Kino and his family fall victim to racial prejudices as he is turned away as they seek help from the doctor for their baby, Coyotito, who has been stung by a scorpion.  For, the doctor is a member of the colonial elite, who perceives Kino's family as "animals"; he tells Kino that he is a doctor, not a vertenarian.  Likewise Kino is a victim of prejudice as he tries to talk with both the priest and the pearl dealers, both of whom try to exploit his ignorance.

The setting of the poor town beset by colonization acts as a catalyst to the development of Steinbeck's theme of the detrimental aspects of colonialism.

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