Horace, an ancient Roman poet, once said: "He who is greedy is always in want." This quote clearly depicts the main theme or message of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. The Pearl is a parable that teaches a moral lesson and expresses the theme that the greed a person may have with materialism can lead to events that will determine one’s fate or the fate of others around them. This novel tells the story of a poor Indian family, who lives in a small brush hut along the Gulf of Mexico and by the neighboring village of La Paz. Steinbeck demonstrates the theme of greed through Kino's obsession with keeping his "Pearl of the World" in order to secure a better future for his family; however, doing so Kino puts his family’s life in jeopardy.
One example Steinbeck uses in this novel that demonstrates this theme of greed that lives within all of humanity is when Kino visits with the pearl buyers to sell his "Pearl of the World." The pearl buyers are not competitive; they have a monopoly on the pearl market in this region of Mexico. Therefore, they offer Kino low prices for his "large and clumsy" pearl. Although Kino is a poor and un-educated Indian, he still has the ability to think logically. Realizing he has not been offered a fair price for his pearl, Kino states, "I am cheated. My pearl is not for sale here. I will go, perhaps even to the capital" (52). Kino’s reactions and words show the greed that the pearl buyers demonstrate by offering Kino such a low price for his valuable pearl. Although the pearl buyers know what Kino's pearl is truly worth, they feel the need to cheat him by giving him less pesos than his pearl actually deserves. In doing so, they provide themselves with a larger profit and thereby illustrating the theme of greed.
Another example Steinbeck uses in this novel that demonstrates this theme of greed that lives within all of humanity is when Kino attacks his wife Juana. Juana realizes that Kino’s pearl has brought nothing to her family except evil as she attempts to eliminate this pearl by throwing it back into the sea. Upon seeing Juana attempting to throw his precious pearl back into the sea, Kino’s sense of greed overcomes him and he resorts to violence against his wife, in order to save his beloved pearl, as the following quote illustrates:
Quietly he tracked her, and his brain was red with anger. She burst clear of the brush line and stumbled over the little boulders toward the water, and then she heard him coming and she broke into a run. Her arm was up to throw when he leaped at her and caught her arm and wrenched the pearl from her. He struck her in the face with his clenched fist and she fell among the...