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John Steinbeck’s The Pearl Essay


John Steinbeck’s The Pearl is a novel that was published in 1947 that retells an old Mexican tale. It is a story of a poor Indian pearl diver, named Kino who lived in La Paz with his wife, Juana, and his son Coyotito. At first, the family is seen to be contented with their lifestyle despite the challenges Kino has to face to provide a meal for his family. However, things begin to change when Coyotito is bit by a scorpion, and his parents begin to find ways to treat him.

The only doctor that is capable of treating Coyotito refuses to treat him because Kino is not able to pay for the treatment. In the pursuit for money to treat his son, Kino discovers an enormous pearl that will forever be referred to as “the pearl of the world”. This paper explores the greed, and evil portrayed by the indigenous Indians in John Steinbeck’s The Pearl.

As the title of the book suggests, the story is based on the enormous pearl Kino finds, and the events that took place as people tried to hunt Kino for possessing the pearl. From their way of life, it is evident that the Indians living in La Paz lead a poor lifestyle, and have accepted their role in life. Kino who is the central character in the novel owns a boat that he inherited from his father and grandfather. Other than this, he only owns the hut they live in, and a couple of clay cooking utensils.

The fact that The Pearl is seen as an object that could change ones position in life, it changes people from being idyllic to cheaters, murderers, and traitors. In the beginning, Kino and his wife, Juana are contented with the few possessions they have, but after discovering the pearl, they irreparably change; they become ambitious, greedy, and violent. Kino’s family even plans to spend the money by improving their lifestyle once they sell their fortune.

Basically, the great pearl is a tool used to bring change among the peaceful Indian people living in a foreign country. The doctor and the pearl buyers represent the hypocrisy and exploitation facing the Indians in La Paz. This is seen when the doctor heartlessly refuses to treat Coyotito just because his father could not afford it; he does not care whether the boy lives or dies, all he cares about is the money he gets from people.

On the other hand, the pearl buyers propose a very low price with the aim of exploiting Kino, once they noticed that he desperately needed the money. Using songs in literal works is a cultural tradition that is traced from Indians; in this case, Kino tends to hear songs playing in his head every time he has a strong feeling about something.

A story that started in an idyllic environment, it unfortunately ends in a violent atmosphere, where people turn against each other just for the sake of a Pearl that ends up destroying their lives. For a community that lived peaceful before the discovery of the pearl, the loss of innocence is a theme that is widely explored by the author. The believe that the pearl had the power to change ones status in the community saw many people resulting in violence in order to fulfill their ambitions. Poverty is a degrading issue facing the people of La Paz, and it is because of their desperation to improve their lifestyles that they resulted in cheating and violence.

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IvyPanda. (2020, May 2). John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/john-steinbecks-the-pearl/

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"John Steinbeck’s The Pearl." IvyPanda, 2 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/john-steinbecks-the-pearl/.

1. IvyPanda. "John Steinbeck’s The Pearl." May 2, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/john-steinbecks-the-pearl/.


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IvyPanda. "John Steinbeck’s The Pearl." May 2, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/john-steinbecks-the-pearl/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "John Steinbeck’s The Pearl." May 2, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/john-steinbecks-the-pearl/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'John Steinbeck’s The Pearl'. 2 May.

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