The Pearl Story Analysis

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John Steinbeck liked to call his 1947 story The Pearl a parable; it is a very instructive and wise work. This is a philosophical parable about human greed, envy and temptation. It is not in vain that they say that big money does not lead to good. Especially if they come unexpectedly, then not everyone will be able to cope with such a heavy burden. So it was with the heroes of the story, the poor Kino and his wife Juana, the wealth that fell on them like a lump on their head led them to the most terrible consequences.

The Plot of the Story

From the popular legend that one day a diver found the most beautiful pearl in the world, John Steinbeck wrote a beautiful story-parable. The author invested all his talent as a writer and the fishing tale turned into a faceted diamond of world literature. The beggar diver saw the most beautiful shell at the bottom, he tore it out of its habitual habitat, killed the oyster, destroyed its strong fins with a dagger, and took out a pearl, which may have been the heart of this creature and belonged to the ocean. Thus, violating karma and bringing down hardships on the weakest and unprepared family members (Steinbeck 14-15). The narrative revolves around the injustice of the world as Kino essentially does that to save his infant son’s life. Coyotito, Kino’s son, has been previously bitten by a scorpion, however, Kino cannot afford Coyotito’s treatment.

For such rich gifts, nature, which does not tolerate emptiness, requires retribution. The pearl diver Kino could never get out of poverty, no matter how hard he worked. He found a rare pearl at a time when the child was very sick, and the parents had no desire more than to save their baby. It would seem that the dream has come true, but now Kino is dreaming about how many benefits his family will receive after the sale of the pearl (34-36). The story is full of drama, permeated with music, sad and instructive. Here everyone can find their meaning, that happiness loves silence, and that they did not live richly, there is nothing to start. In general, like any parable, it contains moral teaching and makes you draw appropriate conclusions on the example of other people's mistakes.

John Steinbeck very clearly showed what followed next; one can see the worst human qualities, deceit, meanness, the desire to take possession of other people's wealth at any cost, hypocrisy, cowardice, envy. The doctor is magnificently depicted, before the discovery of the pearl and after. Yesterday he did not find time to help a sick child, save him from death, today, counting on a good reward, he is ready to personally visit the poor hut. A priest also comes, who needs a donation for the church, and many other episodes skillfully “sculpted” by the author give us the opportunity to see the ugly essence of every person who is thirsty for profit (47-48). Essentially, The Pearl is a rather moral story that shows how people’s priorities change in a negative way and how they value material aspects of life above all.

The reader can see Kino's resistance to circumstances, the confusion of the soul of his wife Juana, we worry about the fate of an innocent baby, their son, we are indignant, realizing how powerless the poor man is against the greed of his environment. It is easy to read, literally in one breath, despite the very tense and difficult moments. Happiness is near, a person must only know how to see and save it, and they cannot buy it for any pearls of the world (Binawan 61). While the moral lesson is quite simple, however, it is still relevant in the modern times, rendering The Pearl an all-time classic.


The story, based on the parable, has not lost its relevance today: people have always wanted and want money, wealth, while a person is alive, he strives for more. But it has long been known that miracles do not happen: there is something that does not depend on us - is it fate, the stars converge like this, does the envy of the environment destroy dreams, maybe we wish too much. It is difficult to say what it is, but the wealth that suddenly fell on a person does not bring him happiness. All the vices of society are shown to us in this story. Human envy that knows no bounds, malice and greed that pushes a person to kill. All this is relevant to this day, nothing has changed, there is something to think about, besides, the story is small, totaling under about 100 pages.


Works Cited

Binawan, Heribertus. “Feminism as Seen in Juana, the Secondary Character of John Steinbeck’s the Pearl.” JELE (Journal of English Language and Education), vol. 5, no. 1, 2019, p. 61., 

Steinbeck, John. The Pearl. Penguin Books, 2017. 

June 10, 2022
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