During the course of his career, Othman twice refuses to marry women that he loves because he wants a wife with an advantageous background that might help him win a higher position at work. He doesn't make time for anyone who wants to befriend him, and saves all his money. Othman's life revolves around his ambition, and he gives up his chances for real love and a family. He really is not enjoying the journey of life since the pleasure of success is only fleeting every time he gains a higher position.
Othman is an interesting character, and it kept my interest to see how he dealt with the people he encountered both at work and in his neighborhood. I alternated between feeling empathy for Othman, and wanting to throw something at him to wake him up to life. Thanks to both Don and Jim for putting this book on my radar....more
John Muir and a little dog named Stickeen had a life threatening adventure crossing a wide crevasse while exploring a glacier in Alaska in 1880. The dJohn Muir and a little dog named Stickeen had a life threatening adventure crossing a wide crevasse while exploring a glacier in Alaska in 1880. The danger bonded the naturalist with the remarkable Stickeen.
Thanks to Renata for putting this short story on my radar. It's a free story (without illustrations) on Project Gutenberg....more
John Steinbeck adapted a Mexican folk tale into a novella about fate, evil, the perils of greed, and the plight of oppressed people. The infant son ofJohn Steinbeck adapted a Mexican folk tale into a novella about fate, evil, the perils of greed, and the plight of oppressed people. The infant son of Juana and Kino, a fisherman and pearl diver, is stung by a scorpion. The doctor refuses to treat the baby because Kino does not have the money to pay him, and because the affluent Spanish colonialists look down at the natives. Kino dives for pearls in the hope that he could afford to pay a doctor, and comes up with a huge, valuable pearl--the "Pearl of the World". He hopes that the pearl will provide necessities and an education for his son someday. But a succession of violent and tragic events occur as people try to rob and swindle Kino.
It was interesting how music plays a role in Kino's emotions throughout the book. He hears songs in his head that express a strong feeling--the music of the pearl. When Kino was excited about the material benefits the pearl would bring to his family, "....the music of the pearl rose like a chorus of trumpets to his ears."(24) When people try to swindle him, "....he heard only the dark music of the enemy."(53) When his family treks to another city to sell the pearl, "....the music of the pearl was triumphant in Kino's head, and the quiet melody of the family underlay it, and they wove themselves into the soft padding of sandaled feet in the dust."(67) As circumstances change, Kino hears different types of music of the pearl all the way to the last sentence. Steinbeck wrote a screenplay with Jack Wagner, so the music probably played an even more important role in the film which was released in 1947.
I've read other books by Steinbeck, and he is always very sympathetic to poor and oppressed people. This story is told in a very simple manner, like a parable or Mexican folk tale passed down orally. In the epigraph Steinbeck writes, "As with all retold tales that are in people's hearts, there are only good and bad things and black and white things and good and evil things and no in-between anywhere." Although I think real life usually has lots of in-between, or shades of gray, telling this as a parable was very effective for this tale....more