Henry Avila's Reviews > The Pearl
Henry Avila's review
Mar 07, 2017
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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