Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Pearl By John Steinbeck

Title: The Pearl
Author: John Steinbeck
Genre: Fiction

ISBN: 0142000698

Publisher: Penguin Books 1976
Pages: 87

I have read a few books before this by Steinbeck. As I liked those, I had to read The Pearl too. It is a very thin book compared to East of Eden. I finished it in around one hour yesterday. It appears simple in the surface but has a great message to convey.

Kino, a fisherman and Juana live in a brush house; have an infant son named Coyotito who is bitten by a scorpion. As they are poor, the doctor refuses to treat him. Juana had already sucked the poison out. However, they both secretly make a wish to find a Pearl. Kino is poor and he has his dreams. He and Juana have a son but are yet to be married. They do not have money to have a church wedding. He wants the best for his son. He wishes for his son to be able to go to school, read, and write.

Kino does find a Pearl, which is very big.
When he finds that Pearl, he is much elated. With that find, we observe a shift in his mindset. The rich and greedy try to steal the Pearl from him. Kino refuses to sell it to a Pearl buyer for the price offered. He knows instinctively that he is being taken in and walks away. We observe the loss of innocence in Kino. Juana senses the Pearl is evil and tries to get rid of it when Kino is asleep. She is caught and beaten up by Kino. We can see her stoism even when she is being hit by Kino. He even kills a man to save the Pearl and himself. Ultimately, she accepts that he is not going to give up the Pearl. He along with Juana and Coyotito tries to escape but comes back after tragedy befalls him. No man deserves the price he pays for possessing the Pearl.

Kino and Juana have the kind of relationship where they do not need to speak. They communicate with their minds and gestures. Each understands the other without a single exchange of words. Kino’s brother, Juan Tomas is not at all jealous when Kino finds a magnificent Pearl. The doctor is shown to be wholly repulsive. He is puffy, stout and very fat. The very picture is hideous.

I do not need to say that Steinbeck is a great writer. His prose is very metaphorical and makes use of imagery. His writing style draws us from start to finish. Most people would enjoy reading this. As with his other works, it holds interest being very well described. It connects to most of us. Poor people suffer the same way all over the world. The way they are taken for granted and the way rich try to dupe them of their rights.
It has that dream of any human being to obtain wealth in order to have a better life. To want the best for the children. To have hope. This ends in tragedy. That shows Kino the wrongness of his actions and he tries to right it by the only way he can. After any great tragedy, the human spirit has the capacity to survive. Steinbeck reinforces that in most of his works. It is a thin book but is loaded with meaning of life.


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