Topics for Further Study
Based on what Mama Torres says to Pepe in the story, what do you think she believes about his level of maturity at the beginning of the story? Does her opinion of him change when he returns from Monterey, or just her expectations of him?
Before going to Monterey, Pepe is eager to wear the black hat with the leather hatband and the green silk handkerchief. How does he look and feel while wearing these? How does he look when he puts on his father's black coat before he rides into the mountains? What is the significance of his losing the hat, the coat, and the tools and supplies his mother sends with him?
Who or what are the "dark watchers"? What does their presence add to the atmosphere and feeling of the story?
Think of some other folk tales you have read or heard. How is this story similar to them? How is it different?
Explain how Steinbeck's biological view of human nature can be applied to the character of Pepe.