Deeper Levels of Meaning in The Pearl by Steinbeck and The Law of Life by London
“The proper function of a man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” – Jack London
Both amazing writers John Steinbeck and Jack London have made amazing stories who use theme and motif to create deeper levels of meaning in their work. An important theme in The Pearl from John Steinbeck is greed. Avarice is an emotion that touches almost everyone in The Pearl, once everyone hears about the pearl, everyone wanted it then. Another example of greed in the book is the doctor. He accepted to cure Coyotito after he heard about Kino finding a pearl. Before, the doctor had never wanted to help cure Coyotito because their family was poor and subsided in a small brush house. Also in the story Just Meat from Jack London, Jim became greedy and wanted to kill Matt using Strychnine, poison that was used to kill rats so he can take the diamonds for himself, but then Matt put poison in Jims food and in result both of them died from the poison. Two other themes that were in Jack London’s and John Steinbeck’s stories were selfishness and man vs. nature.
Since many people were very selfish that a poor villager Kino had found a pearl, everyone who heard about it suddenly want to steal it. People were willing to risk their lives just to get their filthy hands on a shiny valuable pearl. Once, people who wanted to steal the Pearl had come to sneakily steal it from Kino but instead lost their life after Kino had killed him to show to Juana that he is a man. Juana, Kino’s wife wanted to throw the pearl back in the ocean to stop the bad luck and things happening to them. Later because of the pearl’s bad luck, their son Coyotito gets shot from a rifle when a hunter thought Coyotito’s scream was a Coyote. After this incident Kino also agrees to Juana and throws the Pearl back into the Ocean so their bad luck would sweep away.
On the other hand, Jack London has also made some great stories such as The Law of Life. This story also shows power and is mainly about man vs. nature, just like when Coyotito gets stung by a scorpion in the Pearl and how Koskoosh was fighting his old age while trying to stay alive in the cold weather in the Law of Life. They both show power and how they both have to survive in the nature. Kino is surviving from all the people who are trying to steal the pearl from him while in the law of life the characters are trying to survive in the snow where it was very cold.
Both authors John Steinbeck and Jack London have similar ways of thinking that takes place in their stories. They both think deeply before they even start to write their stories. Overall, these two great writers have made wonderful and thoughtful stories and have made a triumphant in their career.
The Pearl by John Steinbeck – Good Book
The setting of the story is the area of La Paz, a pearl fishing town in Mexico on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, around the year 1900. The pearl fisher Kino is a native Mexican whose son gets bitten by a scorpion and needs help urgently. To afford a doctor, Kino dives for pearls and finds the largest pearl the people have ever seen. The other Indian people in his village of natives become jealous, and the whole town knew directly that Kino had found the “Pearl of the World”. Kino sees his dreams come true, because he now could afford all the things he never could pay for. He could pay the doctor, he could get married, he could buy new clothes and wear shoes, and he could send his son Coyotito to school. One of the main themes is colonialism and the oppression of the natives. Mexico is still a colonial society in the 20th century, because the native Mexicans are not treated the same way as the colonizers, which were the Spanish and other Europeans. Kino is a native Indian and feels the superiority of the colonists.
At the beginning, he is treated badly by the town doctor who refuses to treat Coyotito because Kino had no money to pay him. The doctor said: “Have I nothing better to do than cure insect bites for ‘little Indians’? I am a doctor, not a veterinary”. The doctor is arrogant and compares Indians to animals by saying he is not a veterinary. He already assumed that Kino had no money anyway to pay him, so he doesn’t even look at the baby. This shows how the natives are treated in colonial societies. Colonizers think that they are better than the natives, believing that the Indians are stupid and poor and don’t know anything. They don’t realize that it is because of the oppression that the natives can’t escape their situation. They can not go to school and are always seen as inferior. They are not given a chance. In the story, Kino has no chance to sell his pearl for the real price that it is worth, because the colonists, who buy the pearls, want to take advantage of his weakness. The colonists are also hypocrites, because when they heard about the pearl and knew they could get money, the doctor suddenly came to see the child and the priest came to bless them.
Throughout the story, Kino never gets a real chance to use his fortune. He feels betrayed and in danger, because some people, which were probably sent by the pearl dealers, try to steal the pearl several times and even try to kill him. They destroy his boat because they wanted to destroy his spirit. When he left to sell the pearl in the capital, some men follow him to take it from him. He has always been the loser and the higher class wants him to to stay small and unimportant. Steinbeck describes natives as innocent and uncorrupted. However, the greed of people and the hope of a better life force Kino to lose his innocence and to become a murderer. The society doesn’t give natives a chance to rise to a higher level, but always wants to look down at them. Kino feels angry and frustrated when the doctor finally suddenly comes to see the baby. But he let him in because he saw him as a man with more knowledge and he was scared for his son “He was trapped as his people were always trapped”. This quote shows that the natives will always rely on the colonists because they don’t have the chance to learn or become anything. Kino is full of hope at the beginning of the story, but at the end he is worse off than before. All his dreams are shattered, because his society doesn’t accept natives to become one of them. The setting of the story is the area of La Paz, a pearl fishing town in Mexico on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, around the year 1900. The pearl fisher Kino is a native Mexican whose son gets bitten by a scorpion and needs help urgently. To afford a doctor, Kino dives for pearls and finds the largest pearl the people have ever seen. The other Indian people in his village of natives become jealous, and the whole town knew directly that Kino had found the “Pearl of the World”. Kino sees his dreams come true, because he now could afford all the things he never could pay for. He could pay the doctor, he could get married, he could buy new clothes and wear shoes, and he could send his son Coyotito to school. One of the main themes is colonialism and the oppression of the natives. Mexico is still a colonial society in the 20th century, because the native Mexicans are not treated the same way as the colonizers, which were the Spanish and other Europeans. Kino is a native Indian and feels the superiority of the colonists. At the beginning, he is treated badly by the town doctor who refuses to treat Coyotito because Kino had no money to pay him. The doctor said: “Have I nothing better to do than cure insect bites for ‘little Indians’? I am a doctor, not a veterinary”. The doctor is arrogant and
compares Indians to animals by saying he is not a veterinary. He already assumed that Kino had no money anyway to pay him, so he doesn’t even look at the baby. This shows how the natives are treated in colonial societies. Colonizers think that they are better than the natives, believing that the Indians are stupid and poor and don’t know anything. They don’t realize that it is because of the oppression that the natives can’t escape their situation. They can not go to school and are always seen as inferior. They are not given a chance. In the story, Kino has no chance to sell his pearl for the real price that it is worth, because the colonists, who buy the pearls, want to take advantage of his weakness. The colonists are also hypocrites, because when they heard about the pearl and knew they could get money, the doctor suddenly came to see the child and the priest came to bless them.
Throughout the story, Kino never gets a real chance to use his fortune. He feels betrayed and in danger, because some people, which were probably sent by the pearl dealers, try to steal the pearl several times and even try to kill him. They destroy his boat because they wanted to destroy his spirit. When he left to sell the pearl in the capital, some men follow him to take it from him. He has always been the loser and the higher class wants him to to stay small and unimportant. Steinbeck describes natives as innocent and uncorrupted. However, the greed of people and the hope of a better life force Kino to lose his innocence and to become a murderer. The society doesn’t give natives a chance to rise to a higher level, but always wants to look down at them. Kino feels angry and frustrated when the doctor finally suddenly comes to see the baby. But he let him in because he saw him as a man with more knowledge and he was scared for his son “He was trapped as his people were always trapped”. This quote shows that the natives will always rely on the colonists because they don’t have the chance to learn or become anything. Kino is full of hope at the beginning of the story, but at the end he is worse off than before. All his dreams are shattered, because his society doesn’t accept natives to become one of them.
Main Characters in The Pearl Of Evil
In the very beginning of the book, Kino watches as his son, Coyotio sleeps. While he is sleeping, Coyotito is stung by a scorpion despite Kino’s efforts to catch it and kill it. They go to the doctor to get Kino treated for the sting but the doctor refuses care. By some miracle, he survives. They end up going to the sea after this visit to the doctor despite his swollen arm. Kino ends up going off of the side of his canoe and diving to find pearls under the sea while his wife stays on the shore and prays that he will find a massive pearl. He finds a very large oyster that has a huge pearl in it. Both Kino and his wife are overjoyed. The news of kino’s discovery spreads through the town quickly. Kino decides that he is going to pawn his pearl to pay the doctor, and education for his son, and other nice things for the family. The next day, Kino goes to sell the pearl. He is given what he thinks are very low bids on the pearl. After trying a few other places, Juana wants to get rid of the pearl, insisting that it is only causing them trouble. Kano wants to keep trying to sell it. That night, Juana tries to take the pearl and throw it back in the sea, however Kino catches her and beats her. On his way home, he is confronted by another group of guys that try to take the pearl. Kino kills one of them and that is enough to scare the rest of them off. Juana brushes herself off and returns to Kino, telling him that they need to run away because he is a murderer. They go to pack everything and find their canoe destroyed and their house on fire. They decide to hide at a neighbor’s house. They lay low there for the day and then head out to the capital at sundown. They find out that three trackers have followed them. Kino decides to go up a mountain to try to lose the trackers. On the mountain they find a cave. They make a misleading trail and hide at the cave. Coyotio makes a loud noise that wakes the trackers. Kino decides that he must attack the trackers and kills all three of them. After he kills the trackers, he realizes that one of the stray bullets had hit his son in the cave. The next day, Kino and Juana travel to the sea and Kino musters the courage to throw the pearl back into the sea.
Character Analysis 1
Kino is an interesting character. He is very persistent in what he wants. Throughout the story, despite the fact that horrible things are happening to him and his family, Kino hangs on to the pearl. This causes a lot of struggle for the family and is indirectly the reason why his son gets shot. If he had not been such a stubborn person and had thrown the pearl in to the sea earlier, he could have avoided lots of issues. At the beginning of the book, Kino is content with what he has. After he finds his massive pearl and realizes that he can use it to get rich, he starts to get greedy. He thinks that he can have anything he wants and that his pearl is worth more than any of the pawn shops value it at. This extreme persistence leads him into multiple bad situations that involve him killing people. The first incident is as he is walking back to his house, a group of guys wants to steal the pearl and he ends up killing one of them and that is enough to scare the rest of them off. This shows the extreme lengths he is willing to go to to show people that the pearl is his and the fortune belongs to no one else. He has another murder experience when he kills the three guys that followed him and his family up the mountain to the cave. Although this time one of the men manages to shoot his kid, and he realizes this after he has gotten back from taking care of the men.
Character Analysis 2
The other main character in the story is a woman named Juana. She is the wife of Kino and the mother of Coyotito. She is a much more passive and careful character in the story. Most of the time she really stops to take in all the details of a situation. She is a much more abstract person, focusing on things like praying while Kino is looking for a pearl in the sea. In the story, Juana is there to give the reader a reality check. She balances out all of Kino’s crazy ideas and visions with her own perspective of digging deeper than the surface with things. She is a much more conservative and humble person than Kino is. Whie kino is always quick to get himself into trouble, weather it be with his mouth or his actions, Juana tries to stay in the background, only interceding when she needs to. Shortly after the pearl was found, it was Juana’s idea to throw it into the sea. She was able to step back and look at the bigger picture and see all the bad things that it was bringing upon the family. However Kino’s entire vision of reality is taken up by the pearl and his dreams of the fortune it could bring them, and he fails to see that it is doing more harm than good.
“In the town, in little offices, sat the men who bought pearls from the fishers. They waited in their chairs until the pearls came in, and then they cackled and fought and shouted and threatened until they reached the lowest price the fisherman would stand. But there was a price below which they dared not go, for it had happened that a fisherman in despair had given his pearls to the church.” This quote is a prime example of greed. Greed has corrupted almost everyone in the town at this point. Greed is an easy emotion to come to. It is in our human nature to always want more than the guy next to us. The Pearl had brought this emotion to Kino more than anyone. As he is preparing to sell the pearl, he gets a huge imaginary number in his head as to what the asking price might be. He is to be let down by all of the shops in town. This leads him on an endless journey to find someone who will pay his price for the pearl, not the price everyone else had been offering him. In this journey he encounters many troubles, but he feels as if they are all worth it to find the one person who will pay a bunch of money for his pearl. Finally at the end of the story, his wife Juana breaks down some of the pride and greed in him and convinces him to throw the pearl in the sea. This is an important theme that the author is trying to convey. That sometimes one must lay aside his pride, greed, and lust for the world for the greater good. In this case the greater good is the well being of Kino’s family, which he eventually realizes has to be put before an abstract fortune that he thinks he has through his pearl.
Kino, this pearl is evil. Let us destroy it before it destroys us. Let us crush it between two stones. Let us – let us throw it back in the sea where it belongs. Kino, it is evil, it is evil! The big theme of the book that the author wants you to take away is the battle between good and evil. This is displayed throughout the story in Kino’s battle with the pearl. He is forced to choose between the good of a life without greed and a pearl and a life with evil with a pearl that revolves around material things. This battle of good and evil is one that we all have to fight. In our daily lives we have to choose between the evil but yet easier ways of the world and the good but also harder to follow ways of God. He will always lead us down a path of good. In this story Kino and Juana’s relationship is an example of the struggle between good and evil. In their relationship, Kino is the evil one, finding the joys in earthly pleasures while ignoring the evil around him. Juana is the voice of the good. A soft one that does not force itself upon Kino, but lets Kino come to it. By the end of the novel, Kino had realised what the pearl was doing to him and his family and decided that he would join the ranks of the good by giving the pearl back to the sea, where it came from.
I realize that this book is on your list of ‘filet mignons’ but I would not tend to agree. I found it not very engaging and the plot was not exactly my cup of tea. I have read many other books that make this book seem quite boring such as my other two book a months: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Scorch Trials. This book did not give me a hard time putting it down like the others did with their constant, high-paced action and suspense
Thinking About One Piece
Kino and his wife Juana had just had their new baby boy, Coyotito. One peaceful morning the family were just waking up and Kino spotted a scorpion hanging on the rope over their baby boys hanging box. Kino attempted to kill the deadly scorpion but Coyotito hit the rope and the venomous scorpion fell on him and stung the new baby. Kino eventually killed the scorpion but then the mother, Juana noticed the sting mark on Coyotito’s shoulder and they immediately rushed him to the town’s doctor.
The doctor refused to treat the family because of their lack of money. The doctor’s servant came out to the gate and asked Kino if he had any money, but the only thing Kino had to give was “eight small misshapen seed pearls, as ugly as gray little ulcers, flattened almost valueless”. So they eventually left the greedy doctors house and ran to the sea. Juana took a seaweed poultice and applied it to their fatally stung baby. Kino headed back to his canoe to fish for more pearls, he stuck his head under the salty water and pulled out a ginormous oyster. He opened the oyster to find a massive pearl he stared in shock for a moment before releasing a scream all the other pearl fishers could hear.
Before long all of his fellow fishermen were standing in shock around him as well. Word about this colossal pearl spread around the tiny city of La Paz very quickly. Soon after the greedy doctor that wouldn’t treat Coyotito before showed up to their house looking to treat the baby. The swelling in his shoulder has now gone down but the doctor urged the parents to let him treat Coyotito. Juana warned Kino that this pearl may bring greed and danger into their lives. But Kino insisted that he was going to town to sell the pearl the next morning. The next day the pearl buyers didn’t price the pearl at what Kino thought it was worth. He wanted to go to the capital to sell it thinking the capital would give him what he wanted for it. Juana continues to remind him of the evilness that the pearl brings with it. Kino is now being greedy like the doctor. The doctor didn’t actually want to help baby Coyotito he just wanted some of the fortune that he thinks Kino has now come upon. Kino wanted all he could get for it, in fact he was willing to go to difficult measures for it. “This pearl has become my soul”. That night Juana decided to take matters into her own hands by taking the pearl with the intention of throwing it back into the ocean. Kino saw his wife walking slowly towards the ocean and when her hand lifted up he ran and grabbed her. That night Kino beat his wife but also on that night he got robbed and attacked. Kino ended up killing one of his attackers by slitting his throat.
After that Kino and Juana decided they had to leave and get out of that town. They traveled that night and headed to the capital. Kino has shown many effects of greed in this story and so have the attackers. They only attacked Kino and burned his house down to get the pearl from him. “They have taken the pearl. I have lost it. Now it’s over’. Kino finally got the pearl back. Now that they were on the road Kino felt as though he was being followed. Coyotito and Juana took cover in the nearby mountain. While Kino stood outside taking off his white clothing. The three attackers heard a faint cry of Coyotito but simply assumed it was a coyote. They shot towards the direction of the mountain, that’s when Kino jumped out and killed all three of the attackers. It was now deadly silent, the faint cry was now gone because the shot killed baby Coyotito.
The couple headed back into town when they felt it was safe. They decided that it would be best to throw the pearl back into the ocean for good. “And the pearl settled into the lovely green water and dropped toward the bottom”. Now with the pearl and their baby boy gone they will have to adapt to their new lifestyle. The effect of greed was shown throughout the entire story whether it was Kino trying to get way more money than the pearl was worth or the doctor trying to get Kino to pay him since he assumes Kino has money now. The townspeople think Kino is a killer now when he really isn’t. This pearl truly did come with evilness and greed like Kino’s wife Juana warned him about. Greed can come with fame and fortune but also can lead to evilness and great danger. Kino’s life as well as his families were in harm’s way when word spread about the pearl. In the end, Kino and Juana lost something that is irreplaceable their one and only child.
“The Pearl” By Nobel Prize
The Pearl, a novella published in 1947 by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck, inspired after visiting La Paz, Baja California Sur in an expedition with his friend, marine biologist, Ed Ricketts. Near La Paz, an island called Isla Espiritu Santo that’s considered the “crown jewel” of the Gulf. Many pearl divers find a lot of these precious gems in the area. The novel, East of Eden, was published in 1952 by the same author John Steinbeck who considered it his magnum opus. Steinbeck wrote the book for his sons to tell them the background of the country he grew up in. The sight, the smells, and colors. In the book, The Pearl, the setting is La Paz, Mexico. The novella opens up describing the everyday life of a family. Kino is a young, strong man who is a poor pearl diver that collects them to provide for his wife, Juana, and his son Coyotito for meager money. Then it all changes when Kino surfaces from the sea with a pearl that was “perfect as a moon”. “It was the greatest pearl in the world”, but it ruined his life. With the pearl came hope, but also evil and greed. The pearl brought greed in a way when people heard of Kino’s finding, they grew interested in him. The pearl went into the dreams and plans of everyone. For example, when the Doctor was asked to help Kino’s baby, Coyotito, from a scorpion’s sting, he refused, but as soon as he found out about the pearl, he acted upon greed over actual care and attention. Sadly, the family thought they could escape Kino’s mistakes, but ended up being followed by the evil of greedy men and death East of Eden sets primarily in the Salina Valley, California between the beginning of the 20th century and the end of World War I.
Some chapters take place way back in the Civil War or in other states. As Steinbeck sets the outline of the Salina Valley, he introduces a tender headed farmer, Samuel Hamilton, and his wife Liza, who are immigrants from Ireland. Time flies by, when suddenly a wealthy stranger arrives, Adam Trask, with his wife, Cathy Ames, and purchases the ranch near Samuel Hamilton in the Valley. Cathy Ames is described as a “malformed soul” who enjoys to destroying people. Cathy left from her home and burned her house leaving her parents to burn up in flames. She then became a mistress to a whoremaster, who beat her up as he finds out that she has been using him. He then leaves her severely injured in Adam’s and Charles, Adam’s brother, doorstep. Adam falls in love with Cathy, unaware of her past, and marries her. However that same night of the marriage, Adam unaware, Cathy goes to Charles bedroom and seduces him. They arrive and settle in the Valley, near the Hamilton ranch, and Cathy ends up finding out that she’s pregnant. Cathy does not want to be a mother or live in California. Shortly after, she gives birth to twins and shoots Adam in the shoulder as she flees. Cathy then became a prostitute in a brothel in the city of Salinas and renames herself “Kate Albaney”. She makes a plan to get close enough with the owner, Faye, to inherit the brothel and to kill her easily without suspicion. She turns her new and infamous brothel into a place of sexual sadism. Adam fell into deep depression. He then is snapped out of it and names and raises the babies with the cook, Lee and Sam Hamilton, who helps name the babies, Aron and Caleb, after characters in the bible. In the novel, Steinbeck describes the story of Cain and Abel, from the Book of Genesis within the Trasks. In the Book of Genesis, Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to God.
The shepherd Abel offers God his best lamb, while Cain, a farmer, offers Him grain. God preferred Abel’s offering instead of Cain’s, making him jealous and ending up killing Abel. The first generation in the motif is Charles and Adam. Cyrus Trask, their father, favors Adam’s birthday gift, a puppy, over Charles expensive knife because Cyrus loves Adam more. Charles almost beat Adam to death over jealousy. The last generation, Aron, and Caleb. When Caleb offers 15,000 dollars to Adam, he gets mad that Caleb has taken advantage of farmers during war-time. He gets really mad that he takes Aron to their mother’s brother, making Arons belief of their mother being dead a lie. Aron gets heartbroken and enlists in the army, resulting in his death. Inadvertently, Caleb killed Aron. The Pearl and East of Eden share similarities with a major theme: good and evil. In East of Eden, Samuel Hamilton represents goodness, while Cathy Ames represents evilness. Samuel acts as a mentor, somewhat of a fatherly figure towards Adam. He was the first person to see through of what Cathy really is. Cathy affected Adam in a horrible way, especially when she abandoned the twins and him. When Hamilton retired, he lived peacefully as his children cared for and supported him. Cathy killed herself in her dark, gray room, all alone. Good and evil interprets into songs in The Pearl. Throughout the story, Kino hears songs in his head in an intellectual level. For example, when Kino’s eyes drew towards the hanging box where Coyotito hung and saw that the scorpion was ready to sting, he heard in his mind the “Song of Evil”. By that he meant the music of the foe, the scorpion. The “Song of the Family” represents goodness, warmth, and security. He hears the rhythm of the family song is“ grinding stone where Juana worked the corn for the morning cakes. Kino hears it when Juana sings an ancient song or melody to Coyotito that has three notes and “endless variety of intervals”. The main difference found between the books are the protagonists, Adam Trask and Kino. Adam is naive to the root, a man-child. Adam knew no evil until he met his “Eve”. When Adam fell in love with Cathy, there was “nothing Cathy did or said could warp Adam’s Cathy”.
He couldn’t even get a hint that Cathy wanted nothing to do with him when she said she was going to leave as soon as possible. Apparently, he didn’t listen because he ended up getting finessed by Cathy. If it wasn’t for Lee taking care of the twins and him, he probably would’ve have not made it. Kino, on the other hand, is manly, he is a dedicated pearl diver, which is a dangerous job. He is good towards Juana and Coyotito. When Kino found the pearl, he changed, became the irony of what the townspeople called him, a manimal. He acted out the characteristics of animals because he was defending his pearl. Just how a mom protects her cubs from predators, but for Kino, it was thieves and trackers. Even Juana could see it in him, the instinct to kill in his eyes, as she lay on the shore after Kino punched and kicked her when he saw her attempting to throw the pearl back to the sea. The Pearl relates to today’s society in many ways. One of the most common one being racial oppression. Kino’s people and himself experienced this hatred because they are “Indians” and lack of education. When Kino went to sell his pearl, the pearl buyer was trying to trick Kino into thinking the pearl was worthless. Another occasion would be when Kino was talking to the priest and said that his name in the bible meant someone who “tamed the desert and sweetened the minds of the people”. The priest knew Kino and his people couldn’t read. They are looked upon so horribly that they are not considered human because of their race. Both of these books took me on different roller coasters of emotions, but out of the two books, my favorite was East of Eden. The characters are well developed. Every detail of a character is so specific that you can paint in your mind how the character looks or acts. Especially at the beginning when Steinbeck was describing the Salina Valley, the Gabilan Mts., the rivers, etc., he set a beautiful scene. The Pearl is a great book too. It taught me some things are too good to be true. Overall, reading these books was such an experience and in no doubt I will continue reading more of Steinbeck’s works.
A Great Moral Lesson in The Pardoner’s Tale And The Pearl
“The Pardoner’s Tale” and The Pearl both teach a moral lesson. This lesson is that greed is the root of all evil. But, while both stories have the main theme of greed, they are very different in terms of symbolism and setting.
First, Both “The Pardoner’s Tale” and The Pearl have the main theme of greed or the love of money being the root of all evil. In “The Pardoner’s Tale” the three drunks kill each other off because of their love for the gold they found. As the story draws to a close, the following is said about the three drunks, “Thus these two murderers received their due, So did the treacherous young poisoner too.” They all died because of greed. Likewise, in The Pearl, Kino finds a large pearl, that if sold for its proper price, will allow his family to live a much more comfortable life. But, because of all the other people who want to steal the pearl, it ends up causing only pain. Jaun Tomas, a relative of Kino warns him of this. He says, “There is a devil in this pearl.” He is saying that nothing good will come out of it.
Second, both stories are full of symbolism. In “The Pardoner’s Tale”, one example of symbolism is the old man that tells the three drunks where to find Death. He represents Death. He tells the drunks where to find Death, which are represented by gold coins, another example of symbolism. He knows that he is sending them to their deaths. Also, he seems to be very old and the drunks even say of him, “Why live so long? Isn’t it time to die?” This suggests that he is Death, because he would not kill himself, but kills others. In The Pearl, the pearl itself represents greed. Whenever anyone heard of the pearl in the story, he would try and take it for himself. Kino says about those who want the pearl, “they would not have tried to steal it if it had been valueless.” Because of greed, many would try and take the pearl from Kino.
Third, in both stories setting plays an important role. The setting is, however, very different in each. In “The Pardoner’s Tale” the setting is medieval England during the time of the Black Plague. After the Black Plague kills a mutual friend of the drunks, they swear to find and kill Death. They promise, “If we can only catch him, Death is dead!” The setting makes the story possible. In The Pearl, the setting is a Mexican costal town, possibly on the Baja Peninsula. The time is not certain, but is probably late 1800’s or early 1900’s. The setting is important because during this time in Mexico the native Mexicans were treated very badly by the rich Europeans who had settled there. This is evident in the story when Kino tries to sell his pearl, but can not receive a fair price for it. He says to his wife after trying to sell his pearl, “We will not be cheated.” He had tried to sell it to dealers in the town but none would give him a fair price for the valuable pearl.
“The Pardoner’s Tale” and The Pearl are great examples of interesting stories that also have a great moral lesson. Both stories show how greed can cause lots of pain, death, and heartache, and are also both full of examples of symbolism and have great settings to really make the stories believable.
Pearl As a Central Element in The Pearl By John Steinbeck
The Pearl, written by John Steinbeck, is known as one of his greatest works. The novella has been both enjoyed and analyzed ever since it first appeared in a magazine called the Woman’s Home Companion in 1945. The Pearl contains many themes and symbols. One of the most prominent symbols is the pearl found by Kino, hence the title of the book. It can be interpreted in many ways, but the way it is most often interpreted as is a symbol of greed and jealousy and how those traits contribute to the destruction of mankind..
In the beginning of the book, Kino discovered the pearl at the bottom of the ocean in an oyster. To him, this pearl was the most valuable thing he had, because it seemed to promise wealth and success for his family. However, almost immediately after he obtained the pearl, the residents from La Paz became jealous. The book quotes, “All manner of people grew interested in Kino- people with things to sell and people with favors to ask. Kino had found The Pearl of the World. The essence of pearl mixed with essence of men and a curious dark residue was precipitated. Every man somehow became related to Kino’s pearl, and Kino’s pearl went into the dreams, the speculations, the schemes, the plans, the futures, the wishes, the needs, the lusts, the hungers, of everyone, and only one person stood in the way and that was Kino, so that he became curiously every man’s enemy.” (3.6) This shows that because Kino had the pearl, he was not the friend of people, but the enemy. People did not look up to him because he was wealthy, but they despised him because they were jealous that the things he could do with that pearl were seemingly endless, and they wanted it for themselves.
When Kino went to the doctor to heal Coyotito from his scorpion sting, the doctor did a very dishonest thing to get more money out of Kino. The doctor made Coyotito even more sick than he was in the first place, so Kino would have to come back to the doctor to buy more medicine. The doctor wanted the pearl too. In chapter three, the greed of the doctor is shown with the following phrase. “The news came to the doctor […]. And the doctor’s eyes rolled up a little in their fat hammocks and he thought of Paris.”
Near the end of the book, the ownership of the pearl gives Kino some animalistic qualities. The book reads, “Kino looked down at her and his teeth were bared. He hissed at her like a snake, and Juana stared at him with wide and not frightened eyes, like a sheep before the butcher.” (5.3) This shows that even though Kino was at first a wonderful man, greed can turn even the nicest people into monsters.
As you can see, the symbolism of the pearl in this book is very significant. Many people believe that if you have money and clothes, the nice cars and the mansion, that you’ll be happy. This, however, is not true. The people that are happiest are the people that don’t take what they have for granted and put their energy into things that matter like friends, family, and God. To God, it doesn’t matter who had the bigger plasma screen TV. Being greedy is never going to get anyone anywhere.
The Pearl Novel: How Greed Can Deteriorate a Person
Greed can bring out the worst in people. It can turn people into monsters: Greed is the emotion of people being jealous. An example is when people want money; the greed will take over until they cannot take it anymore. They might go and possibly kill the innocent people just so they can get what they want. That is greed and selfishness. Just like in the novel The Pearl by John Steinbeck shows greed in so many different ways. Such as Kino finding “the Pearl of the World” (35).He then turns into one of the biggest greed monsters ever. He lives in a village with his wife, Juana, and son, Coyotito. He is happy and he is happy being a fisherman. They live in the poor part of the village due to the color of their skin. John Steinbeck shows how greed can go from bad to worse through the character of Kino.
When Kino finds the pearl things just start going bad from bad to worse. Kino needs the pearl because a scorpion stings Coyotito. This makes Juana want to go to the Doctor, and this causes Kino to seek the pearl. All the village people know the doctor would not come but Juana says, “Then we’ll go to him.”(7). Once the pearl is found and the doctor hears about it he goes to see Kino. Claims to help Coyotito but really poisons him. He only poisons him so he can have money from the pearl. This just shows how he would do anything to get money. He is that greedy. He ends up going back to help Coyotito and gives him the antidote. Hearing about the pearl, The priest also shows up and talks to Kino about what he is going to do with the money and talks Kino into getting married and getting Coyotito brought into the church, he only does that because he wants money for the church. If he really wanted to have Kino and Juana become married, he would have visited before he found the pearl. Kino is naïve; he does not see that all The Doctor and The Priest want is money. The pearl is slowly blinding Kino. Kino is overcome by greed he just wants, wants, and wants. Kino is slowly losing everything that made him so happy at first.
Later in the story, Kino has become completely blinded by the greed the pearl has caused him. Kino has now lost everything that has made him happy; he is so over come with greed that he beats Juana when she tries to get rid of it. The only reason she attempts to get rid of it, is that she sees the change in him. Now Kino has decided it is time to sell the pearl. He goes to find the pearl buyer who he finds in a dark room flipping a coin between his fingers “He rolled a coin back fan forth over his knuckles and made it appear and dissapear, made it spin and sparkle.the coin winked into sight and as quickly slipped out of sight, and the man did not even watch his own performance.”(48). This quote is significant because it shows the pearl buyer is sneaky by nature Kino does not even realize how sneaky he is. The buyer did not offer him enough money. Kino is so greedy he would not settle for anything less then what he thought it should be. The pearl buyer told Kino that the pearl was worthless but Kino realizes it is not since everyone wants the pearl. The priest gives his yearly sermon about if one is born poor then they cannot work hard to get rich. If one born poor then the person is poor for life. To them that is how it was because they could not read so they had to believe what the priest said. This shows greed because he would not give this sermon yearly if he did not think it was important, and he would not give this sermon if he thought poor people could get rich because it would take away from his money and he is very greedy. Greed has slowly over come everyone in the village, especially the rich part of town.
Since Kino is greedy and the pearl buyer did not offer him enough money, Kino decided to go to the capitol to sell the pearl. Therefore, he wants to get a fair price on it. On their way to the capitol, they begin to get tracked. The trackers followed them everywhere they went and Kino say to Juana “You will put the little one in more danger if you go with me.”(77 ). They hike up into mountains, trying to get away from the trackers Kino realizes what he must do to keep him and his family alive. He has finally realized what the pearl has done to him. Kino knows he must kill the trackers. He once again is overcome by greed, gets the strength within himself to go kill the trackers, so he climbs down the mountain and pounces when the hunter shoot his gun. He does not realize it then but the hunter killed the baby. Kino ends up killing all of the trackers and begins to realize how the pearl has hurt him.
John Steinbeck shows how greed can deteriorate through out Kinos’character in so many ways. Greed can seriously make you lose sight of everything that one had once had or loved and people get what they wanted and in the people become so disappointed. John Steinbeck wrote a very interesting book that has many examples of greed and how greed takes over people’s lives. Greed really does do a person bad. It turns people into monsters, another example of greed is sometimes someone gets something that someone wants and it drives them crazy enough that eventually they feel like they have to take it because they wanted it so they take it without them knowing and then do not tell anyone that it was taken. Greed is a very common emotion for people to feel everyone feels it so people know how it feels. Everyone has some kind of experience with the feeling of greed, in some form, and knows how it feels.
The Pearl Theme Analysis
This story is about kino finding a pearl and the effects of this. Kino and juana are the main characters of the story and want to change their poor life circumstances to a wealthier lifestyle when they found the pearl. They encounter many conflicts throughout the story. In the end of all this they lost the most precious son in their lives. In the pearl steinbeck utilizes the pearl a symbol of materialism displaying the the theme of wealth leading to destruction.
Kino went into his canoe and found a pearl in the ocean. After that He thought of what he could buy “His lips moved hesitantly over this – “A rifle,” he said. “Perhaps a rifle”(12). Kino is thinking about what to buy now that he has become wealthy from the pearl. This is just the beginning of the desires of kino and the start and on the path to destruction. In the start of the story it does not really affect the family in a bad way at all. Kino later starts to really think about what he wants out of the pearl. He dreams of the things he wants “But Kino’s brain burned, even during his sleep, and he dreamed that Coyotito could read, that one of his own people could tell him the truth of things. And in his dream, Coyotito was reading from a book as large as a house, with letters as big as dogs, and the words galloped and played on the book. And then darkness spread over the page, and with the darkness came the music of evil again, and Kino stirred in his sleep; and when he stirred, Juana’s eyes opened in the darkness. And then Kino awakened, with the evil music pulsing in him, and he lay in the darkness with his ears alert.(70)”. These thoughts were evil to have because he was falling into a trap. This relates to the theme because he has a lot of power with the pearl and is leading him to a path of destruction.
Later in the story juana starts to think differently of the pearl. Juana starts to open her eyes and says this “This thing is evil,” she cried harshly. This pearl is like a sin! It will destroy us,” and her voice rose shrilly. “Throw it away, Kino. Let us break it between stones. Let us bury it and forget the place. Let us throw it back into the sea. It has brought evil. Kino, my husband, it will destroy us.”(75).
The Power Of Greed In Treasure Island By Robert Louis Stevenson And The Pearl By John Steinbeck
In the books Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Pearl by John Steinbeck, the major themes presented contributing to the plot was greed. Greed is a theme that is displayed through the actions of characters in both of these books and plays a role in driving the plot forward. Both books consist of adventure and mystery leading to a suspenseful reading experience. Greed results in consequences such as possessiveness, dangerous outcomes and guilt, which all play particularly outstanding roles in plot advancement. All three of these topics feed into the overall demise of characters in the books, making them extremely important factors to analyze.
Intense greed causes individuals to do things that they would not typically do, such as being possessive. The characters in the story lose sight of the bigger picture and it causes them to want more than they already have. In The Pearl, Kino finds a rare pearl and took it to an appraiser to get as much money as possible from it but the appraiser would not even give Kino half of what he desired. He would not settle for less and walked out of the store with no money and the extraordinary pearl in his pocket. The Pearl caused Kino to become very obsessive over Coyotito, his son, and was referring to the boy as property, “His face shone with prophecy. ‘My son will read and open the books, and my son will write and will know writing. And my son will make numbers, and these things will make us free because he will know — he will know and through him, we will know… This is what the pearl will do’”. It is not selfish of Kino to want more for his son, but it is greedy for him to want his child to be better than everyone else in his neighbourhood, as they live in a poor community surrounded by rich cities. Non-wealthy people can be just as greedy as treasure hungry pirates. In a conversation between Squire Trelawney and Doctor Livesey in Treasure Island, the squire brings up some good remarks about how the famous pirate Captain Flint only does tasks where there is money and riches involved. Not just Flint cared about money, all other pirates did too, “‘But the point is, had he money?’ ‘Money! Have you heard the story? What do they care for but money? For what would they risk their rascal carcasses but money?’”. Money is an object and they keep wanting more, no matter the cost; bloodshed, dishonesty, and disloyalty do not affect them, so why would they bother worrying? One of the few characters that are genuinely not interested in the money is Ben Gunn, “he possesses the entire Flint treasure hoard, yet shares it with Squire Trelawney and his men, asking for only a small portion of it in return for his services to them”. He has witnessed first-hand what possessiveness looked like from Captain Flint, and he was worried that it would happen to him.
Throughout both novels, multiple characters have lost their lives either trying to protect what they have or by trying to gain more power. In the case of the character Kino in The Pearl, his son is murdered because he kept the Pearl instead of selling it, which caused multiple individuals to target the family and want to take the pearl. The baby was innocent and still untouched from the hands of greed, but the mood changed in the story “and then Kino stood uncertainty. Something was wrong, some signal was trying to get through to his brain. Tree frogs and cicadas were silent now. And then Kino’s brain cleared from its red concentration and he knew the sound – the keening, moaning, rising hysterical cry from the little cave in the side of the stone mountain, the cry of death”. Kino didn’t realize what trouble he brought to his family until this moment, and he thought he could keep his family safe and still get what he wanted. Not only did Coyotito die, but multiple pirates too. Multiple pirates have lost their lives but they didn’t pass on from battle, they lost their lives to keep a secret. Captain Flint never showed mercy when it came to getting what he wanted and he never took chances to reveal where his treasure was hidden. But, “the idea of treasure functions in another way in the book, too, playing off the double meaning of the word “fortune,” which can mean both ‘wealth’ and ‘fate’”(). In saying this, it draws on a good point that the treasure could be perceived as whatever the pirates wanted it to be seen as. In chapter thirteen, a character is introduced named Benn Gunn and he set out for an adventure and he was part of Captain Flint’s crew when the murder took place. When he met the main character, Jim Hawkins, Ben told him about what he saw on the island. He said: “I were in Flint’s ship when he buried the treasure; he and six along- six strong seamen… But, there he was, you mind, and the six all dead- dead and buried. How he done it, not a man aboard us could make out. It was battle, murder, and least ways…”. This was the pirate way and eventually Ben joined a different crew then told them of where Flint’s treasure is located, and soon after he was marooned on a separate island. This proves that even if an individual tries to stay away from being greedy themselves, other greedy people nearby will have an impact on their overall life.
Greed can be an easy temptation to succumb to, but it is challenging dealing with the consequences. There is a clear moment in The Pearl when the Kino realizes what he has done and it causes the reader to feel remorse for this character. To be specific in this book, the narrator wrote: “Now Kino lay in the cave entrance, his chin braced on his crossed arms, and he watched the blue shadow of the mountain move out across the brushy desert below until it reached the Gulf, and the long twilight of the shadow was over the land” . Kino is sitting by himself reflecting on what he has done and what has happened to his once fulfilling life, of waking up to his wife and son. It will never be the same as it once was because his friends turned on him, which caused him to panic and inevitably got his son killed in the process. Coyotito being killed was an accident which is why it is understandable for Kino to feel regret and remorse for his son. Pirates, on the other hand, do not feel guilt, so the character in Treasure Island that best demonstrates this trait is Jim. He starts out as a young and innocent boy but eventually grows and matures into a young man that can take care of himself. At the end of the novel when he found the treasure with what was remaining of the crew, Jim has a moment when he is thinking to himself: “…That was Flint’s treasure that we had come so far to seek, and that had cost already the lives of seventeen men from the Hispaniola. How many had it cost in the amassing, what blood and sorrow, what good ships scuttles on the deep, what brave men walking the plank blindfold, what shot of cannon, what shame and lies and cruelty, perhaps no man alive could tell”. He realizes what has happened in order for this treasure to be in the cave and for it to be in his hands, and he is considering if it is all worth it. Was all the gold and jewels really worth the bloodshed? Jim never intended for the people that went on the voyage to get hurt or die, but he feels guilt from it, especially from Israel Hands. This character was murdered by Jim but it was in self-defence as Hands tried to throw a spear and kill Jim first. This was a moment that Jim did regret it but it was not his fault. Greed does many different things to an individual and makes them do and think things that they wouldn’t typically be known for. In a previously written essay it has said that “In our lives greed is something that will make a person go above and beyond normal just to achieve more than what they already have”. Greed is one of the most common forms of human emotion that exist but is often hidden because it is seen as a negative trait. In the cases of these books, it is clear as to which characters face the most internal conflict, and it is represented in their actions and dialogue. The pirates, in particular, have the most difficult time masking their struggle because they have been raised the same way, to always want more.
After reading the novels and studying the concepts presented, greed does many things to the mind that have the potential to change an individual. It could be over a short period of time, as seen in Kinos story, or an extended period of time, which is viewed in Captain Flint’s tale. It can cause an innocent man to forget about the real values and treasures that life holds, and a selfish one to fall even deeper into despair and obsession. Overall, both of these important characters in the novels lost sight of themselves and what really matters.