"The Pearl" by John Steinbeck

Essay by slappyHigh School, 12th gradeA+, July 1996

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In John Steinbeck's The Pearl, a destitute pearl diver finds a giant pearl with whichhe hopes to buy peace and happiness for his family. Instead, he learns that the valuable pearlcan not buy happiness but only destroy his simple life. Throughout the fable, there is aconstant theme woven through the characters and setting which encompasses the struggleamong social classes to become successful. Steinbeck, a novelist known for his realisticdepictions of life, portrays this motif through Kino, the doctor, Coyotito, and the town of LaPaz. John Earnst Steinbeck, author of The Pearl and many other stories, was born onFebruary 27, 1902, in Salinas, California. Both his father, who ran a flour mill, and hismother, a teacher, encouraged him to write once they saw his early interest in literature. Steinbeck began his career by writing articles for his school newspaper and by taking classesat Stanford University. At the same time, he worked at a local ranch where he witnessed theharsh treatment of migrant workers.

These underpriveleged laborers later served as theinspiration for many of his novels, including The Grapes of Wrath. The Pearl, anotherinspiration from his past, originated from a legend about the misfortunes of a poor boy whofound a giant pearl that was told to Steinbeck while on a trip to Mexico. Kino, the protagonist in The Pearl, is an honest pearl diver that discovers thesacrifices that come with the struggle for success. He dreams of the education the pearlcould provide for his son, but the pearl also makes Kino more suspicious of the peacefulvillagers around him. At one point, he tries to sell the pearl in order to pay for a doctorCoyotito needs, but the pearl buyers only try to cheat him of the success he feels he deserves. Then Kino tries to leave...