Lesson 3: The Pearl

Activities

Activity 1: Editing Sentences

Materials: journal
Copy these sentences in your journal, correcting any grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors:
  • A copper haze hanged over the water and the hot, morning sun beat on it, and made it vibbrate blindingly.
  • The brush houses of the fishing people was back, from the beach, on the right hand side of town and the canoos were drawed up in front of this area.
Here are the suggested sentence corrections. (Changes from the original are underlined.)
  • A copper haze hung over the water, and the hot morning sun beat on it and made it vibrate blindingly.
  • The brush houses of the fishing people were back from the beach on the right-hand side of town, and the canoes were drawn up in front of this area.

Activity 2: Effective Verbs and Adjectives in Writing

Materials: colored pencils
In this activity, you will analyze Steinbeck's use of verbs and adjectives to create effective descriptions, helping the reader imagine what is being described. Steinbeck uses intense, descriptive language to describe the setting of the story. In the second chapter he describes the bottom of the ocean. His vivid use of language gives the reader an image of what the pearlers see when they dive.

The use of strong verbs is essential to narrative writing. Strong verbs keep the action going, engage the reader, and show rather than just tell the reader what is happening. You could write, "The man walked up the stairs." This tells the reader what is happening. Or you could write, "The man stumbled up the stairs." This helps show the reader what is happening.

Which of these sentences is more effective?

"The girl ate her lunch." OR "The girl gobbled down her lunch."

The second sentence shows you how the girl ate her lunch — it doesn't just tell you that she ate it.

Which of these sentences is more effective?

"The man wore an old shirt." OR "The man wore a faded, torn shirt."

The adjectives in the second sentence help the reader better visualize the type of shirt the character is wearing. Note that sometimes writers use more than one adjective before a noun. When two or more adjectives describe the same noun, they are called coordinate adjectives. These types of adjectives are separated by a comma.

A good way to determine if these adjectives need a comma in between them is to ask yourself if the sentence would still make sentence if you inserted the word "and" in between them. For example, the sentence, "The man wore a faded and torn shirt" still makes sense, so "and" can be replaced with a comma.
Use the "Verbs and Adjectives Chart" sheet to identify the strong verbs and descriptive adjectives that Steinbeck uses to describe the ocean floor in the second paragraph of Chapter 2.

Next, select one of the following options. The first option encourages you to draw a picture based on Steinbeck's description of the ocean floor, and the second option asks you to write a poem to describe the ocean floor, borrowing from Steinbeck's own descriptive language.
For this activity your child will identify verbs and adjectives in a descriptive passage taken from the book. He will then decide whether he wants to draw a picture (Option 1) or write a poem (Option 2) based on Steinbeck's description of the ocean floor.

Answer Key
Verbs: took, bubbled, sputtered, popped, waved, swayed, clung, lay, scampered
Adjectives: yellow, Fiddler, rich, little, tiny, crawling, swimming, growing, brown, gentle, green eel, poison, eel-grass, bright-colored, swimming

Option 1: Drawing the Ocean Floor

On the page, "The Ocean Floor" (Option 1), draw the image your mind sees when you read Steinbeck's description of the ocean floor.
Read the second paragraph of Chapter 2 and look for evidence of Steinbeck's descriptions in your child's drawing.

Option 2: Ocean Floor Poetry

On the page, "The Ocean Floor" (Option 2), write a poem to describe the ocean floor, based on Steinbeck's description. You can borrow some of Steinbeck's words and phrases for the poem, if you'd like. You can use free verse or any other poetic form you feel will effectively describe the ocean floor to the reader.
Read the second paragraph of Chapter 2 and look for evidence of Steinbeck's descriptions of the ocean floor in your child's poem.