Topics for Discussion
1. Ramon states that the day the pearl was returned to the Madonna, not the day he found the treasure, marked the "beginning of his manhood." What has he learned that makes him feel this way?
2. Considering that an entire fleet of pearlers has been destroyed by the storm at Punta Maldonado, how do you explain the attitude of resignation the villagers of La Paz show toward the disaster?
3. Why does Ramon suddenly decide to join the Sevillano in killing the Manta Diablo? In what way does the Sevillano influence Ramon's decisions and actions throughout the novel?
4. At first, Ramon believes that the Manta Diablo is simply a fictitious creature invented by parents to frighten children. Later he becomes a believer. What does the change reveal about him?
5. Why does Ramon's father refuse to bargain over the Pearl of Heaven? Why does he reject a great sum of money and donate the pearl to the church? How does his gift to the church bring about positive change in La Paz?
6. Why is Ramon impatient with his father when he gets his first chance to go out with the fleet?
7. The statue of the Madonna is described as being neither old nor young, Indian nor Spanish. What does O'Dell suggest with this description?
8. Both Ramon and the Sevillano plan to steal the Pearl of Heaven from the Madonna. Are their motives similar?
9. How does the Sevillano explain the destruction of the fleet? Do you think he is correct? Why or why not?