The Pearl Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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What is the setting and the mood that Steinbeck establishes with the descriptive details at the beginning of the novel The Pearl?

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Although Steinbeck heard the story of a poor boy who found a great pearl while he was in LaPaz, Mexico, he does not mention the name of the town in his opening epigraph; instead, writing only, "In the town...." And, since this story is also a parable, then the town can be one town of many places, thus giving the legend universal significance.

The descriptive details in the exposition of the tale help to set the tone of this story. There is an other-worldliness to the narrativeĀ as the reader becomes an observer of a dream-like setting:

The stars still shone and the day had drawn only a pale wash of light in the lower sky to the east...[Juana's] dark eyes made little reflected stars.

Kino heard the little splash of morning waves on the beach. It was very good--Kino closed his eyes again to listen to his music....The songs remained, Kino knew them, but no new songs were added.

In addition, there is a sense of harmony with the songs connected to everything. And, yet there is also poignancy and, perhaps, fatalism as the narrator declares that no new songs have been added as Juanita's song has

only three notes [with] endless variety of interval...saying this is safety, this is warmth, this the Whole.

In the exposition, there is much description of nature, accompanied by a rhapsody of song, indicating that Kino and his family are a part of the natural world and in harmony with nature at the beginning of this tale.

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