How does the landscape of the last chapter contribute to the tension of the narrative in The Pearl?The Pearl by John Steinbeck

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The wind blew fierce and strong, and it pelted them with bits of sticks, sand, and little rocks, Juana and Kino gathered their clothing tighter about them and covered  their noses and went out into the world.

Even the environment works against Kino and Juana and their baby, increasing the tension in the narrative.  After Kino has killed a man, he and Juana and Coyotito must flee. They leave in the dark of night and Kino leads his family north on a sandy, windy road; safely, their footprints are fortunately erased by the wind under a waning moon. However, the wind dies down and "the evils of the night were about them."  The next day Kino warns Juana of the tree that will blind her and another tree that bleeds and will be evil luck. With the hot sun, Kino must hide behind a thorny tree to perceive if anyone is following them.  All these situations contribute to the fear and tenseness in the family and the dangers.

He was uneasy and nervous; he glanced over his shoulder; he lifted the big knife and felt its edge.

Kino espies the trackers, who "whined a little, like excited dogs on a warming trail." Further, as Kino and Juana keep moving they "trotted quickly through the tangle of the undergrowth."  The sun streams down, and they must climb for

the high place, as nearly all animals do when they are pursued. 

Later in the narrative, Steinbeck writes that Juana must hide in a hole in the mountain "like an owl" under

an old and ragged moon, but it threw hard light and hard shadow into the mountain cleft.

Clearly nature conveys the struggles of the family who flees the trackers. Like animals of prey, Kino and Juana and the baby hurry through undergrowth, clawing and tearing at ferns and vines in order to make progress. Yet, they are doomed, much like the animals that flee to the higher ground, only to be tracked down by their predators.