In the book “The Sorrow of the Lonely and the Burning of the Dancers,” Edward Schieffelin devotes attention to the Kaluli tribe. Schieffelin actively discusses the rainforest environment, Kaluli modes of subsistence, and food production, so the question of why he pays attention to these descriptions appears. The author spends so much time discussing the Kaluli environment to demonstrate the surrounding, as it provides an understanding of the people and the main events.
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Schieffelin describes the environment in a particular way to give an overview of the tribe that takes the central place in the story. Kaluli people have a specific bond with nature; they live in the rainforest somewhere in Papua New Guinea, produce organic food, nature provides them with all the basic needs such as food and settlement. Kaluli tribe obtains food from their gardens, for instance, banana, breadfruit, and vegetables; they fish and hunt for meat. The book plot focuses on the ethnographical context, culture, and traditions of the tribe. Emphasizing this information, Schieffelin wants to help the reader to immerse into the ambiance, imagine every detail, have a realistic feeling of the events and circumstances. The reader will not have any questions about the plot of the book or specific events.
To sum up, Schieffelin uses a frequent and detailed discussion of the modes of subsistence, food production, and settlement to get the reader acquainted with main events so that it is easier to understand each aspect in terms of the tribe overview. A precise description helps to avoid misunderstanding during the reading process, so the plot and the ethnographic information about the tribe are transparent to the recipient.