by John Steinbeck
Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Doomed, Removed, Tranquil
We definitely get a sense of fatalism reading The Pearl. The narration declares with removed, pensive observation that all are greedy, that the pearl brings evil, and that good ol' Kino has become an animal:
Now the tension which had been growing in Juana boiled up to the surface and her lips were thin. "This thing is evil," she cried harshly. "This pearl is like a sin! It will destroy us," and her voice rose shrilly. "Throw it away, Kino. Let us break it between stones. Let us bury it and forget the place. Let us throw it back into the sea. It has brought evil. Kino, my husband, it will destroy us." And in the firelight her lips and her eyes were alive with her fear. (3.75)
But the tone of The Pearl also often has a mystical, dream-like quality:
And the brush house was crowded with neighbors. Kino held the great pearl in his hand, and it was warm and alive in his hand. And the music of the pearl had merged with the music of the family so that one beautified the other. (3.7)
There is no urgency or concern in this passage—the tale is simply a parable being told by a story-teller.