According to Monterey folklore, the Lara–Soto Adobe is haunted by a curse that influenced John Steinbeck while writing his novella The Pearl. The original version of The Pearl appears as a parable in Sea of Cortez, but Steinbeck's later version is much darker than the original. The legend of the haunted tree, the death of a child, and the path of evil are all woven into Steinbeck's new text. “The Haunted Tree” explores this oral tradition in Monterey as a commentary on Steinbeck's own problematic relationships with the city and his own minor masterpiece The Pearl.

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