What are five sentences from Luis Alberto Urrea's The Devil's Highway that help develop the importance of the setting and list the page number for each sentence.

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Luis Alberto Urrea’s nonfiction account of the deaths of 14 men who crossed the Mexican border into the United States and attempted to walk towards a better life, The Devil’s Highway, is full of references to the treacherous nature of the terrain across which these tragic individuals passed.  One need only read the first chapter, titled “The Rules of the Game,” to be assaulted by nonstop depictions of as unforgiving a section of land as exists anywhere in the world.  While the student posting the question requested five sentences that help develop the importance of the setting (in addition, of course, to the book’s title), what follows are seven sentences drawn from early in Urrea’s book, as each contributes to the theme of foreboding that eventually and inevitably leads to the deaths of those people.  Urreau devotes his opening chapter to physical descriptions of the setting, as well as early history during which the desert swallowed up many who challenged it, as the essential precursor to the tragedy that follows.  By devoting so much time to minutely describing the setting, the author ensures that the reader is fully conversant with and can visualize the forbidding terrain across which so many destitute people have crossed in an effort at escaping the poverty and conflicts of their native lands.  With that, Urrea’s descriptions follow:

“Five men stumbled out of the mountain pass so sunstruck they didn’t know their own names, couldn’t remember where they’d come from, had forgotten how long they’d been lost.”

“Visions of home fluttered through their minds. . .Rivers.  Not like this place, where they’d gotten lost.  Nothing soft here.  This world of spikes and crags was as alien to them as if they’d suddenly been awakened on Mars.”

“Cutting through this region, and lending its name to the terrible landscape, was the Devil’s Highway, more death, another desert.”

“Ten trees a quarter of a mile apart can look like a cool grove from a distance.  In the Western desert, twenty miles looks like ten, and ten.  And ten miles can kill.  There was still no water; there wasn’t even any shade.”

“Much of the wildlife is nocturnal, and it creeps through the nights, poisonous and alien: the sidewinder, the rattlesnake, the scorpion, the giant centipede, the black widow, the tarantula, the brown recluse, the coral snake, the Gila monster.”

“One more secret of Desolation.” (Referring to the man-made markers dotting parts of the desert)

“Thousands of travelers went into the desert and piles of human bones revealed where many of them fell.”

[Note: page numbers are not available, as this educator used an electronic form of the text.  As noted above, however, the first chapter of the book establishes the setting.]

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The Devil's Highway

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