The Greedy Are in Want in John Steinbeck’s "The Pearl"

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Horace, an ancient Roman poet, once said: "He who is greedy is always in want." This quote clearly depicts the main theme or message of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. The Pearl is a parable that teaches a moral lesson and expresses the theme that the greed a person may have with materialism can lead to events that will determine one’s fate or the fate of others around them. This novel tells the story of a poor Indian family, who lives in a small brush hut along the Gulf of Mexico and by the neighboring village of La Paz. Steinbeck demonstrates the theme of greed through Kino's obsession with keeping his "Pearl of the World" in order to secure a better future for his family; however, doing so Kino puts his family’s life in jeopardy.

One example Steinbeck uses in this novel that demonstrates this theme of greed that lives within all of humanity is when Kino visits with the pearl buyers to sell his "Pearl of the World." The pearl buyers are not competitive; they have a monopoly on the pearl market in this region of Mexico. Therefore, they offer Kino low prices for his "large and clumsy" pearl. Although Kino is a poor and un-educated Indian, he still has the ability to think logically. Realizing he has not been offered a fair price for his pearl, Kino states, "I am cheated. My pearl is not for sale here. I will go, perhaps even to the capital" (52). Kino’s reactions and words show the greed that the pearl buyers demonstrate by offering Kino such a low price for his valuable pearl. Although the pearl buyers know what Kino's pearl is truly worth, they feel the need to cheat him by giving him less pesos than his pearl actually deserves. In doing so, they provide themselves with a larger profit and thereby illustrating the theme...

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... more even if it means taking from the poor.

All in all, John Steinbeck uses his novel and parable entitled The Pearl to teach his readers a moral about how humans are instinctively greedy, which can turn something perfect and gorgeous into something bad and wicked in both physical and mental ways. At the beginning of the novel, the pearl is described as being “lucent and perfect,” while later on the pearl is described as having a "curious darkness" on its surface. At the end, the pearl is ugly and gray. If people let greed get the best of them and are not cautious, something that is beautiful and perfect can turn into something bad and evil. Through Kino’s greed, he has lost his humanity and become more like an animal than ever before, thereby proving the evilness of the pearl and the greed living within all of humanity.

Works Cited
The Pearl by John Steinbeck

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