Stephen's Reviews > The Pearl

The Pearl by John Steinbeck
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M 50x66
's review
Nov 09, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: 20th-century-american
Read in November, 2007

A sad tale of a happy, young family whose discovery of a pearl of great wealth brings only death and misery.

A fisherman, Kino, discovers a large pearl while harvesting oysters with his wife. Believing they are now rich, the fisherman formulates plans that will allow him and his family to live a better life. The plans are modest and include sending their baby son to school, formally marrying his wife in a church, and buying a rifle.

The Plot
A young fisherman discovers a large pearl. Believing the pearl will afford him great wealth, he dreams of a better future for his young family. Society, however, gets in the way of his plans and he is forced to flee until a tragic event leads him to conclude that the pearl does more harm than good.

Kino's fisherman village (natives) is segregated from the rest of the town (descendants of their spanish conquerors). Kino tries to fight his station by selling the pearl. It is the wealthier in town who destroy Kino. The doctor prescribes false treatment to Kino's child (initially refusing to even see the baby when he discovered his father was a fisherman). The priest will only marry them once they have money Kino's attackers were undoubtedly from the town. The trackers eventually kill Kino's son. It wasn't God or fate that destroyed Kino, it was the greed and materialism of society. Religious beliefs reinforce society's ability to subjugate Kino and his people.

The materialism evinced by the townspeople grips Kino. Rather than be satisfied with the happiness of his family, he seeks a way to improve, and this leads to the tragedy. Eventually he regains his way by ridding himself of the pearl, but not before a great tragedy befalls him.

The song of the family
The song of evil

- "And, 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." - Preface.

- "But they remedy lacked his authority because it was simple and didn't cost anything." - Chapter 2

- "For it is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more. And this is said in disparagement, whereas it is one of the greatest talents the species has and one that has made it superior to animals that are satisfied with what they have." Chapter 3

- "But now, by saying what his future was going to be like, he had created it. A plan is a real thing, and things projected are experienced. A plan once made and visualized becomes a reality along with other realities - never to be destroyed but easily to be attacked." Chapter 3

- "The people say that the two seemed to be removed from human experience; that they had gone through pain and had come out on the other side; that there was almost a magical protection about them." - Chapter 6
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Fariha Rahman I disagree with you when you say that the doctor refused to see Kino because he was a fisherman. The doctor would have refused anyone in Kino’s class even if they weren’t pearl divers or fishermen. I do agree with you when you say, “it was the greed and materialism of society that destroyed Kino” Kino would have been happy later on if he had just taken the small amount of money that was offered to him in the beginning. The society had a great deal of the cause that ruined Kino. Social oppression caused the main situation. People tried to cheat Kino because of his social standing. They thought they would be able to get a way with it because Kino is poor and he doesn’t know the true amount of the pearl.

kourtnie I disagree with both of you. The doctor refused kinos request because he was an indian

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