Struggling with Greed in John Steinbeck’s "The Pearl"

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The Pearl written by John Steinbeck is a parable, a story that teaches a moral lesson. The focus of this novel is on a poor Indian family. The family consists of three members: Kino, a husband, father, and fisherman, Juana, his wife and loving mother; and Coyotito their infant son. This indigent family lives in a small brush hut along the Gulf of Mexico by the town of La Paz. One day Coyotito, is bitten by a scorpion; a scorpion sting can be deadly to a baby. Kino and Juana are very worried over the health of their baby; therefore, they hope to find a pearl worthy enough for the doctor’s payment to the doctor to treat Coyotito. With luck on their side, Kino finds a pearl the size of a seagull’s egg; he calls it “The Pearl of the World.” This novel like others, is centered around a major theme; the theme of a literary work is defined as the main idea, concern or purpose about life that the author wants to convey to his or her reader. John Steinbeck in his novel The Pearl reveals the vital theme of Kino and his family’s struggle with greed.

This major theme of greed presented throughout the novel is a common human phenomenon that most people have experienced in their lifetime. One example of this vital theme of greed occurs when a scorpion stings Coyotito. Kino, Juana, and everyone in their village are hoping the doctor will treat their sickly infant. After arriving at the doctor’s home, Kino knocks on the door. The doctor’s servant comes to the door and Kino informs him of Coyotito’s sickness. The servant closes the door and goes to report this case to the doctor. The disgruntled doctor has this reaction to the servant:

The doctor put his cup down gently before he let his anger rise. Have I nothing better to do ...

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... Kino and Juana have to act fast; Kino has an idea: “If I get first to the one with the rifle, I must get him first, then I will be alright. Two are sleeping…They will see your white clothes…No, and I must go before moonrise” (83). When Kino states his idea, he is really thinking more about safe guarding his pearl than his family. Kino is willing to risk his life and plans to murder the trackers because he is extremely greedy.

This parable entitled The Pearl written by John Steinbeck teaches readers lessons about life and people. Steinbeck uses a universal struggle with greed to embody his innermost idea and concerns about life that he conveys in this novel. In conclusion, John Steinbeck meant for his readers of The Pearl to take away a lesson or message from the struggle of greed and avail themselves to apply the lessons or messages to their everyday lives.
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