Dreams of Greed: John Steinbeck Explores the Pitfalls of Material Desire in The Pearl

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“Greed, like the love of comfort, is a kind of fear.” John Steinbeck’s parable The Pearl illustrates this topic. Even the kindest of people can be driven to greed under the right circumstances. As unassuming of a flaw it seems to be, greed holds an invisible, yet strong hold on nearly every individual. Kino, a Mexican - Indian pearl diver, lives a content life with his wife, Juana, and his infant son, Coyotito. When his son is stung by a scorpion, there seems to be no hope for his treatment, due to the town doctor’s greed and sense of superiority. However, seemingly by chance, Kino manages to retrieve a massive pearl from the depths of the sea. Driven with a sense of hope for his son, Kino must protect his pearl from everything. John Steinbeck’s parable The Pearl illustrates how greed brings out the worst in people. Kino begins the story a simple man. Accustomed to a daily routine, he feels a sense of responsibility for his family and his people. Though he must work to survive, he seems content with his simple life. Kino’s life is turned on it’s head, however, when his son Coyotito is stung by a black scorpion. Because the town doctor’s fee is too high, he is filled with a sense of despair and anger. Kino’s luck seems to have reversed, however, when he manages to obtain an enormous pearl from the depths of the ocean: Kino deftly slipped his knife into the edge of the shell. Through the knife he could feel the muscle tighten hard. He worked the blade lever-wise and the closing muscle parted and the shell fell apart. The lip-like flesh writhed up and then subsided. Kino lifted the flesh,and there it lay, the great pearl, perfect as the moon. It captured the light and refined it and gave it back in silver incandescence.It was as la... ... middle of paper ... ...t’s great value became the primary motivation factor for greed, prompting evil and injustice wherever it went. Nearly every character in Kino’s story outside his family acts upon their greed to try and take advantage of Kino’s situation. The doctor in chapter one, at first uninterested in helping a patient that cannot pay, is now more than willing to help when he hears about Kino’s pearl. The pearl merchants try to take advantage of Kino’s lack of pearl selling knowledge to try and buy his pearl for a low price. Kino himself allows his greed to take control of himself and only regrets it when he realizes his son is worth more than the money he should receive. By the end of the story, the pearl no longer symbolizes hope, but now symbolizes evil and anguish. It’s great value became the primary motivation factor for greed, prompting evil and injustice wherever it went.

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