In the novella “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck, an improvised pearl diver finds a humungous pearl which is described as a “ sea-gull egg. It was the greatest pearl in the world”(26), which he hopes to buy tranquility and happiness for his family. Instead, he learns that the valuable pearl cannot buy happiness but only destroy his simple life. Throughout this novella there is a constant theme woven through the characters and settings which encompasses the struggle among social classes to become successful and the colonial oppression and ill-treatment against the native Indians. The novelist, John Steinback portrays this motif through Kino, the town doctor, Coyotito, and the town of La Paz.
Kino, is the protagonist in the novella, who is an honest pearl diver that discovers the sacrifices that comes with the struggle for success. Kino dreams and aspirations are for his son to receive a quality education and his wife Juana to get married in the church which the pearl can provide. As Kino seeks to gain wealth and social position through the pearl, he changes from a jovial, fulfilled father to untamed wild animal of emotions, demonstrating the way avarice and greed shatters purity and innocence. Kino’s desire to acquire wealth distorts the pearl unique elegance and goodness, changing it from a symbol of optimism to a symbol of self-destruction. Kino’s greed and self-destruction leads him to become more dubious and suspicious around his peaceful villagers.
When Coyotito gets stung by the scorpion, Kino tries to sell the pearl in exchange of payment for the doctor to cure his son, but the pearl buyers attempt to deceive him of the success he feels he deserves. Kino tries to leave the town, but his paranoia and fear causes him ultimately, to shoot Coyotito accidentally. Kino returns to La Paz and throws the pearl into the sea. Kino, a symbol of sedulous and motivation, is destroyed by his self-destruction and greed.
The town doctor’s behavior also illustrates how the struggle for success can corrupt people. The town doctor usually does not treat indigenous native Indians, because their were look down upon as chattel and second class citizen. However, Kino saw the doctor as “ the skill of the healer”(15), who is more interested in wealth and riches than the welfare of others.
When Kino and Juana comes to ask if he will treat Coyotito's scorpion sting, he promptly sends them away without any regard to Coyotito’s injury, because they lack the money to pay or items of any value to sell. The town doctor drinking out of “tiny china cups, as he sits in his large white house and dreams of returning to Paris”(16) symbolizes the wealth and greed he possesses. However, when news of Kino's discovery reaches the doctor, he rushes to the family's grass...