by John Steinbeck
The Pearl Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
The sun was hot yellow that morning, and it drew the moisture from the estuary and from the Gulf and hung it in shimmering scarves in the air so that the air vibrated and vision was insubstantial. A vision hung in the air to the north of the city – the vision of a mountain that was over two hundred miles away, and the high slopes of this mountain were swaddled with pines and a great stone peak arose above the timber line. (4.4)
Again, note the line "vision as insubstantial." Appearances are not to be trusted in this world.
This was panic flight. Kino did not try to conceal his passage he trotted, kicking the stones, knocking the telltale leaves from the little trees. The high sun streamed down on the dry creaking earth so that even the vegetation ticked in protest. But ahead were the naked granite mountains, rising out of erosion rubble and standing monolithic against the sky. And Kino ran for the high place, as nearly all animals do when they are pursued.
This land was waterless, furred with the cacti which could store water and with the great-rooted brush which could reach deep into the earth for a little moisture and get along on very little. And underfoot was not soil but broken rock, split into small cubes, great slabs, but none of it water-rounded. Little tufts of sad dry grass grew between the stones, grass that had sprouted with one single rain and headed, dropped its seed, and died. Horned toads watched the family go by and turned their little pivoting dragon heads. And now and then a great jackrabbit, disturbed in his shade, bumped away and hid behind the nearest rock. The singing heat lay over this desert country, and ahead the stone mountains looked cool and welcoming. (6.42 – 6.43)
Land to Kino can be either his friend (hide him when he’s on the run) or foe (present unknown dangers for him to face).
And then Kino stood uncertainly. Something was wrong, some signal was trying to get through to his brain. Tree frogs and cicadas were silent now. And then Kino's brain cleared from its red concentration and he knew the sound – the keening, moaning, rising hysterical cry from the little cave in the side of the stone mountain, the cry of death. (6.97)
When Coyotito dies, the sounds of the animals are silenced. It is as though the natural world recognizes that tragedy has occurred and is responding to it.