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The Village: In many ways, the village in which most of the story takes place is a symbol of the oppression of the people. To create this symbol, Steinbeck personifies the town.
The Gulf: An important element of the setting is the sea. It takes on symbolic importance in the story. The Gulf provides the villagers with their livelihood and sustenance—fish and pearls. However, like the town, it cannot be trusted. Steinbeck uses the sea to make readers aware that things are not always what they seem. "Although the morning was young, the hazy mirage was up. The uncertain air that magnified some things and blotted out others hung over the whole Gulf so that all sights were unreal and vision could not be trusted.... There was no certainty in seeing, no proof that what you saw was there or not there."