The Pearl Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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What simile did the author use to begin chapter 3 of The Pearl?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A simile is a literary device that makes a direct comparison between two different things using the words "like" or "as." At the beginning of chapter 3, Steinbeck utilizes a simile to compare the town outside of Kino's ocean front village to a colonial animal by writing, "A town is a thing like a colonial animal" (11). Steinbeck goes on to personify the town by writing that it has a nervous system, head, shoulders, and feet that enable news to travel faster than little boys can run. A colonial animal is a collective life form comprising of individual organisms that are interconnected. Steinbeck comparing the town to a colonial animal is an accurate description that depicts how the civilians in the town are closely connected and share news. This is evident by the speed in which the news regarding Kino's pearl rapidly spreads throughout the town and allows the corrupt pearl dealers to begin plotting on how to purchase the pearl for much less than it is worth.

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Steinbeck compares the town to an animal in the beginning of chapter 3.

A town is a thing like a colonial animal.  A town has a nervous system and a head and shoulders and feet. …. And a town has a whole emotion. (ch 3)

He uses this comparison to demonstrate how news travels quickly in a town, and how the town itself seems to have its own momentum.  It is almost living and breathing on its own.  The town itself is more than the sum of its parts.  This is why the news of the pearl and Kino’s baby’s bite travels so fast.

Steinbeck describes the news also as moving on its own. It seems to move faster than people can tell it, because news travels fast in small towns when there is something important going on.

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