Humanity's Struggle with Greed Depicted in John Steinbeck's The Pearl

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The Pearl is a parable, a story that has a moral, written by John Steinbeck. The novel is based on a poor Indian family who live in a small village outside of La Paz, Mexico along the Gulf of Mexico. The family consists of: Kino, a fisherman and pearl diver; Juana and their infant son Coyotito. Kino’s people live a life of poverty so when Kino finds “The Pearl of The World” the villagers and town’s people all want to get their hands on the pearl for themselves; Lap Paz became filled with greed. This novel like all others is focused on a major theme; the theme of a literary work is defined as a central idea, concern or purpose about life that a writer wishes to convey. There may be several themes identified in a literary work; however, in John Steinbeck’s novel The Pearl the author uses an occurrence in nature–the pearl to develop one of the most essential universal themes in literature, which is humanity’s struggle with greed.

One example of this universal theme of humanity’s struggle with greed occurred in this novel when the doctor pretended to treat Coyotito for something that he did not have. It all started when a scorpion stung Coyotito. Kino and Juana’s only hope was the doctor, however, he refused to treat Coyotito because they were poor and they had nothing of value to pay for his services. Not long after this, Kino went to search for a good pearl in order to pay the doctor to treat his son. Kino found “the pearl of the world;” Juana and Kino were overjoyed. Once the doctor heard of this fine pearl, he rushed over to Kino’s hut to treat the sick baby by telling Kino a lie. The doctor’s excuse for not treating Coyotito sooner was, “ I was not in when you came this morning. But now at first chance, I have ...

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...een stones. Let us bury it and forget the place. Let us throw it back into the sea. It had brought evil. Kino my husband, it will destroy us” (38). The pearl brought greed to the forefront of the community; everyone wanted the pearl for him or herself. Juana, who was at one time thanking God for the pearl, was now telling Kino to throw it away because the greed that it was causing woul eventually destroy them.

This parable entitled The Pearl written by John Steinbeck teaches each reader a lesson. Steinbeck uses the universal theme of humanity’s struggle with greed to represent his central idea, or concern about life that he wanted to convey his novel. In conclusion, John Steinbeck meant for his readers of The Pearl to take his powerful theme or message of humanity’s struggle with greed and provide their own interpretation as it pertains to their own lives.

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