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Thread: John Steinbeck - The Pearl

  1. #1 John Steinbeck - The Pearl 
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    John Steinbeck - The Pearl

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    The Pearl is a novella by American author John Steinbeck. It takes place in the 1900's. Like his father and grandfather before him, Kino is a poor pearl diver, gathering pearls from the Gulf beds that once brought great wealth to Mexico's Spanish Conquistadors. Pearl diving now provides Kino, Juana, and their infant son Coyotito, with the meager subsistence that they need to live. Unexpectedly, Coyotito gets stung by a scorpion. Kino can't pay for a doctor to heal Coyotito, so he searches for a pearl. After searching for one, Kino emerges from the sea with a pearl as large as a seagull's egg, and as "perfect as the moon." The pearl brings hope, the promise of comfort, but at the cost of stepping out of an established system. It is a story about a Mexican folk tale, The Pearl explores the secrets of man's nature, the darkest depths of evil, and the disastrous effects of stepping out of an established system. Due to the novella's negative portrayal of opportunity and ambition, some suspect that, like much of Steinbeck's work, it advocates socialism. In fact, its criticism of the ruling elites and their dominance in Mexican society along with their clearly negative attitude toward the poor are much stronger arguments for the "socialism" that Steinbeck purportedly advocates.

    The Pearl has a strong moral that one should be content with one's life and that greed invites misfortune, which is what Kino and his family end up having plenty of after the discovery of the pearl later in the book. The novella presents this view through the character of the Priest, who participates in continuing the oppression of the indigenous people (Kino's race). In the end, Kino looks at the pearl and sees it as something evil. The pearl has changed throughout the story from a sign of hope, to a sign of greed, death, and deceit. He sees the man that he had killed reflected on the surface of the pearl, as well as a vision of his baby Coyotito after he had been mistakenly shot. In his rage, Kino flings the pearl back into the sea, where it settles into the sand and disappears before the dust can settle. The book also conveys messages of oppression and racism in a way that suggests they are negative elements in life.

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