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Setting

          Setting is important in a novel. The setting helps to give meaning to the story. Setting in a novel tells us where and when a story takes place. Thus, setting acts as the background to the story in the novel.

          The setting in the novel “The Pearl” is the fishing village in La Paz, which is located in the narrow peninsular of Mexico. This place is the Baja Peninsular.

          The adventures in the story take place in the brush village of La Paz.  The story unfolds in the fishing village, consisting of poor fishers who also are pearl divers, to earn supplementary income. Kino and his family are Mexican-Indians who reside in the brush houses that dot the outlines of the shores of La Paz. The town is the centre for pearl trading. It is a city of stone and plaster. It also represents the more sophisticated Spanish-Mexicans, who are traders and professionals.

          Against the contrast of these two worlds, Kino is caught. He has with him the world’s greatest pearl, which he sees as the ticket to a bright and successful future for his family. But, evil minds work in somewhat strange ways, and soon Kino finds himself in dire straits. He, his wife and only son become the target for unknown enemies and bounty hunters, known as trackers, who are on his trail. The old order of life is destroyed. They have to flee the brush village and head towards the mountain to escape the clutches of evil men, out to rob him of his new found fortune. Kino returns in the end from the mountain back to La Paz and passes through the brush village to the beach. There, he builds up all his courage and flings the pearl with all his might into the sea. 

The Elements of Setting
The elements of setting relate to information that can be found in the novel based on:

1. The historical time: When the events in the story are taking place.
2. The physical location: Where the events in the story are taking place, how the physical environments appear.
3. The social circumstances: How the characters and the people in the story are seen in society based on their socio-economic backgrounds or social norms.
4. The cultural circumstances: What types of socio-cultural practices the people in the story uphold

Historical time refers to the time in which the story takes place or when the characters in the story undergo certain experiences or are in some kind of situation.
Physical location relates to the physical landscapes or environments as described or noted in the novel. This is often seen as the background to the story or the natural setting at a particular place or places in the novel, where the events in the story take place.

Social circumstances are the social dimensions that make the characters behave in some particular manner. The way people are seen as working class or aristocrats in the social context such as the socio-economic background. Kino and his people are descendants of the Mexican-Indian race while the doctor, pearl buyers and trackers are from the Spanish-Mexican race. Kino and his people are poor fishermen and pearl divers, who live in the brush houses in the fishing village. On the other hand, the Spanish-Mexicans are pearl traders, shop owners, professionals and live a more comfortable life in the city. Kino and his people live as neighbours and are close- knit.

Cultural circumstances relate to the people's socio-cultural practices such as taboos, beliefs and their behaviour. Kino and his people are Christians and respect the priest as a person who is knowledgeable in religious matters. They believe in the power of magic too, and pay attention to their intuitions which appear in the form of songs. There are songs of the family, the music of the enemy, music of the pearl, dark music, music of evil and ancient magic to safeguard from evil. This is the belief of the people. 

Look at the table below and see how information, details or descriptions provide the elements of setting:

ELEMENTS OF SETTING INFORMATION/DETAILS/DESCRIPTIONS
Historical timemorning, evening, night , a long time ago, dawn, four hundred years,  old and ragged moon, waning moon arose.
Physical location brush house, waves on the beach, hanging box, city of stone and plaster, church, La Paz, yellow sand,  eel-grass beds, Gulf, hot sun, narrow pavements beside the buildings, streets of the city, bare stone teeth of the mountains, tiny stream, cave, golden afternoon.
Social circumstancescorn-cake, pulque, hanging box, beggars, church, thousand washings of his clothes, poverty people, high bed, silver tray, silver chocolate pot, tiny cup of egg-shell china, suppliant hat, beans, little pottery dish, fireplace stone, clay-cooking sheet, sleeping-mat.
Cultural circumstancessong of the enemy, ancient magic, Hail Mary,  benediction, pray for guidance, soldier sent by God, sermon.

 
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