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A Review And Evaluation Of A Literary Text Chosen By The Student For An Audience Unfamiliar With It. Steinbeck The Pearl

1166 words - 5 pages

-meant to be a short reviewJohn Steinbeck's "The Pearl" said to be "a brutal story with flashes of beauty" by the author himself, is a rather depressing novella about wealth and the evil it attracts despite those wanting to use it for the greater good.Written in 1944, it was influenced and inspired by a number of sources. The basic plot was adapted from the "Sea of Cortez" an earlier narrative Steinbeck wrote during the spring of 1940, an idyllic period of his life, when he and a friend sailed around the Baja region on the west coast of America. Steinbeck also used his own experiences and opinions in "The Pearl". After the success of "Grapes of Wrath" Steinbeck was subjected to hate mail, FBI scrutiny and slanderous criticism because of the revolutionary way he exposed the harsh reality of the imbalance of wealth in American society. This backlash of fame and fortune sent Steinbeck on a personal quest where he had to come to terms with what being wealthy and famous meant and he realised that he was dissatisfied with the growing dog-eat-dog capitalistic American attitude, the materialism that stemmed from it and as well as the pressure to support a system i.e the American government and society, that oppressed the poor. As a result of his personal questioning in addition to his more simplistic previous attempt, Steinbeck laid the foundation for "the Pearl". Through his story Steinbeck brings to light themes such as the human instinct of greed or selfishness, the corrupting influences of wealth, the advantages the wealthy have over the poor, importance of family or community and fighting for one's dreams."The Pearl" is often seen to be parable-like or allegorical in nature because of the morality underlying the story. However, being allegorical in nature means that the meaning or what Steinbeck is trying to say is often obscure. Some may consider it to be about man's search for values but is more commonly understood as a rejection of materialism. Like most great works of literature, its ambiguity leaves it open to interpretation.Steinbeck presents to the reader the character of Kino, a poor Mexican pearl-diver who finds "the Pearl of the World". The novella is rich with symbolism, the first line being "Kino awakened in the near dark", illustrating the universal naivety of people who assume that finding wealth will erase their problems. Even the pearl alone is symbolic in a myriad of ways. It stands for evil, the evil of Kino's growing greed and the greed of those, who despite being richer than he covet the pearl and attempt to steal it for their own use. In a metaphoric sense, the pearl symbolises the materialistic greed of American society. However, in its beauty and majesty the pearl also symbolises good. It was the potential to help Kino fulfil his dreams of educating his son and marrying his wife in a church. Hence it can be seen as freedom from want. As the story progresses Kino's fall from innocence as he becomes blind to the greed and...

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