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John Steinbeck's The Pearl Essay

1247 words - 5 pages

The Pearl by John Steinbeck has been an interesting and insightful book. It tells the story of Kino, a poor pearl diver, and his family. When his baby, Coyotito, is stung by a scorpion, Kino and his wife, Juana, cannot afford a doctor. Soon after, however, they miraculously discover a large, beautiful pearl. Believing it will not only pay for Coyotito’s treatment but also open up a new future for his family, Kino is excited to sell it. However, the precious possession soon brings strife and evil upon the family. Thus, the pearl Kino deeply believed would fulfill their dreams makes a nightmare out of their lives.
While reading The Pearl, it became clear that an ideology is present in the novel. This ideology is not very prominent, seeing as the author only hints at it sparsely. Halfway through the book, Kino recounts something that his father told him: “…each [person] must remain faithful to his post and must not go running about…” (Steinbeck 46). This is one of the few outright mentions of the novel’s underlying ideology, yet the ideology is present throughout the story. At the beginning, Kino and his family lived in peace, in the brush village in which they were born; they were poor, but their humble existence was comfortable. After they obtain the large pearl, however, Kino is enthralled by the possibilities that it presents. He is set on selling it for a large sum in the town of La Paz, but the pearl buyers try to scam him. Although it could be argued that they are simply selfish, dishonest characters, their desire to oppress Kino and ‘keep’ him poor could also come from a subconscious ideology that a person must not try to change the ‘post’ into which he was born. Kino, however, sees through the pearl buyers’ scam and plans to travel to the Capital to sell the pearl for a greater price. By wanting to physically leave his small town and climb up the economic ladder, Kino challenges the underlying ideology. As soon as he does this, his family is plagued by trouble and grief, which reaches its climax with the death of their infant son. This ending, though it was heartbreaking to read, definitely proves the underlying ideology of the novel; one should not challenge one’s place in the order of the world, for only suffering will come from that.
While reading the novel, I had to fill in certain gaps in the text. The first clue to filling in an important gap was that there were two main settings for most of the book; there was the brush village in which Kino lived and the town of stone and plaster in which wealthy people lived. A second essential clue was that a doctor in the town referred to Kino’s people as “Indians” (Steinbeck 11) and refused Coyotito treatment for the scorpion bite because he was “a doctor, not a veterinary” (Steinbeck 11). These two key pieces of information allowed me to deduce that Kino’s people had been subjected to disempowering colonization by European settlers. The economic divide had been created, most likely because...

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