Henry Avila's Reviews > The Pearl

The Pearl by John Steinbeck
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Innocence turning to greed, and how people react to another man's good fortune, is the major theme of John Steinbeck's popular novella, The Pearl, set apparently in the early 20th century, ( the author is rather vague on the subject) in the then small, sleepy town, now a major city of La Paz, Baja California, Mexico, near the tip of the astonishing long peninsula, 775 miles ...Our main character is Kino, a young, poor Mexican man in his early 20's of Indian extraction, living in a remote part of the quiet city, on the beach in the Gulf of California or the Sea of Cortez, ( Senor Cortes would not recognize the anglicized spelling ) pick your choice. His under the mangroves, flimsy brush house has three inside, the pearl diver, his wife Juana, not official, their first an only child a son, the baby Coyotito, he loves his family, and the neighbors, an uneducated, superstitious group, as destitute as he, yet a great generous "tribe" , who have been exploited for 400 years by the European conquerors. A tragic almost fatal occurrence happens and the very concerned parents , go on a desperate quest to see the only local doctor, a rare visit, they know his reputation, a racist that considers the indigenous, animals, doesn't work for free, will he treat their much cherished boy ? The whole neighborhood follows including his older brother Juan Tomas and wife Apolonia, it is quite a sight the whole town stares at the procession , mesmerized by the strange parade of the impoverished in the early morning light...Arriving and the expected, no money, no medicine, so the couple comes back home and pray for the best, to Jesus or the gods, Juana does both. Life must continue however, Kino and Juana push their old, much repaired canoe, that was his grandfather's into the calm, warm green gulf waters, swiftly jump in and paddle vigorously until they reach the pearl beds below...Kino can stay under for two minutes, he has a knife for prying open the oysters and two ropes, one attached to a basket for the would be, precious mineral and the other a rock to send the skilled diver to the bottom of the ocean quickly...It will change the way people treat the poor Indian , later his astounded friends will call it, The Pearl of the World, a huge iridescent object as big as a seagull's egg, men have killed for less, they try to cheat Kino, steal, deceive, destroy his whole family he must leave and seek a honest person to buy the pearl in a large city, Coyotito, needs to go to school, be baptized, fine clothes for Juana, get married in the Church, a rifle for himself, away from the evil surrounding him, the happy songs will not be sung , the little family walks away into an uncertain destiny , the black night grows thicker, and the evil will follow...John Steinbeck's wonderful fable, simple in plot with a few characters involved in the story yet they are enough to articulate his views of the corruption of the individual when avarice consumes a man's soul and the endless cruelty inflicted on others to achieve his unsavory goal... sad but true.
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Reading Progress

February 22, 2017 – Shelved
February 22, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
March 3, 2017 – Started Reading
March 7, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)

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Henry Avila Yes

Fabian {Councillor} Very intriguing review, Henry! You're definitely tempting me to finally read this Steinbeck novel myself.

Luís C. What a pearl - book itself.

Dolors You know of my weakness for Steinbeck, Henry...so reading your thoughts on this cautionary tale made my evening. Thanks!:)

message 5: by Henry (last edited Mar 08, 2017 06:39PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Henry Avila Dolors this is in my neighborhood, having visited Baja many times, but not that far down the peninsula....I think if you have not read it, you would enjoy, greatly, my tenth Steinbeck not that many left to get....Oops just saw your review.

Henry Avila Councillor wrote: "Very intriguing review, Henry! You're definitely tempting me to finally read this Steinbeck novel myself."Go for it,only 90 pages and a good read.

message 7: by Henry (last edited Mar 10, 2017 06:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Henry Avila Luís wrote: "What a pearl - book itself." I'll say , wonder how valuable in today's market that pearl would be worth ?

Luís C. Henry wrote: "Luís wrote: "What a pearl - book itself." I'll say wonder how valuable in today's market that pearl would be worth ?"

Maybe not. The book market has changed exponentially and lives too much at the expense of profit.

Henry Avila That is always the bottom line..Luis.

Luís C. Henry wrote: "That is always the bottom line..Luis."


message 11: by Ned (new) - added it

Ned Lovely review, thanks Harry!

Henry Avila I thank you for your generosity.

Cecily "Sad but true", indeed. Innocence turning to greed is an eternal, but powerful story. Nice review, Henry.

Henry Avila Thank you Cecily, this great book from the talented author, is one of my favorites from him...

message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Booth Great review! The story is too sad and heart breaking for me to read despite the fact that I love Steinbeck’s writing. I can’t stand to be depressed and look at humanity’s avarice and greed for it turns me misanthropic. I still remember Of Mice and Men and how that depressed me and that was 37 years ago! Anyway, always great reviews from you, thanks!

Henry Avila Thank you Sarah , this was such a splendid story in a small package... wish it had been much longer.

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