I read The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I liked it very much, except the ending was too sad. I think Steinbeck used language very well and made the characters very real. It was a good story.
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This was an exciting story at the beginning. This really poor family seems to have a chance to rise above their beginnings. First their little boy is stung by a scorpion and the doctor will not treat him, because the parents have no money. Then Kino finds the pearl, the largest he has ever seen. This beautiful pearl should make them rich. Kino and his wife begin to plan how they will educate their son. However, the townspeople begin to plan to cheat the family of money and the pearl dealers agree to fix the price on this pearl. He refuses to sell it.
Kino plans to travel to another city to sell this pearl, but his brother warns that the pearl is evil and he should just sell it. Many people try to steal this pearl and even attack Kino looking for it. The family leaves and they are followed. Kino goes in the night to kill the trackers, but the baby cries and the trackers shoot him because they think he is a coyote. Kino kills them all, but their son is dead. They return home and Kino throws the cursed pearl into the sea.
I think this story is how people really are. I also think it is sad that they did not find some way out of the trouble. But the way Steinbeck describes everything is so real that this book is as good as any television show. It is easy to read, but still very full of beautiful pictures for the head. The couple are very real and I understand how they feel. However, I think their brother should have helped them more, especially when the boy was stung. Families should work together.
I was surprised that they did not have more friends. I thought that poor people usually were more helpful, especially in villages where everyone knows everyone else. I think there was a racial thing going on here also, because I think this family was part Indian or something. It just seems that they were not accepted by many people. I think it has to be more than just being poor.
This story seems to be also about humanity, like how we treat each other. It also talks about how money is not everything. However, the terrible things that happened to this family only happened because of greed. Kino’s brother would say it was their fault for trying to get a fair price, for trying to raise their status, but I think that this great pearl was too big, not too big to be valuable, but too valuable. So many people wanted it. Kino and his wife should have decided to share it with some of their friends, and maybe even some with the whole village, and then maybe all of this would have happened. They did make a lot of plans to spend the money and did not ever talk about sharing it, not even to give some to the church.
I would have preferred that Kino and his wife would succeed in getting to the other city and sell the pearl for more than what the pearl buyers offered, but this was not the story that the author wanted to tell. I have seen some movies based upon his stories and they are more real than happy. We get to know these two characters very well, but it seems that their lives were meant to be hard. Steinbeck likes to tell stories about poor people and about how people can treat others badly and without understanding. He also seems to really know why people react like they do. Even when Juana tried to throw the pearl into the sea earlier, and Kino beats her, it shows how he has changed.
One of the most interesting things in this story is the parts that Kino thinks, especially about the songs. I think maybe this is more than just a personal thing about Kino. I think it is cultural. It sounds like something he might have learned as a child. John Steinbeck seems to understand this way of thinking too as he tells us about it. It is right somehow that there would be something more to their lives than just the day to day work.
This book was like the pearl that Kino found. I had a hard time to put it down. I kept wanting to read more. I felt like I was there with Kino and Juana. I felt their joy when they thought that the pearl would make their lives better. I felt their fear when they were running. I felt Kino’s anger, and I felt their grief. I don’t think this would be a good movie, because most of the good parts are inside somebody’s head. There are action parts, like the fire and the attack and the final killings, but the story is not about that. It is about how they feel and that does not make a good movie.
But as a book, liked it a lot, and I would recommend this book to anyone over 16 or maybe a little younger. I think maybe the story is not good for young children and I would not read it to my young children, but it is wonderful writing that really pulls the reader into the story.