The Pearl, By John Steinbeck

1004 Words5 Pages
What is the true cost of fortune and success to one’s future? John Steinbeck assesses this idea through a novel, The Pearl, that focuses on the dominant and submissive roles of men and women. Throughout The Pearl, Steinbeck tells a tale of a poor man, Kino, who desires to provide a better life for his wife and child by selling a tremendously valuable pearl. However, in this quest to sell the pearl, the family encounters various life-threatening situations, transforming this newfound possibility of wealth to a burden in the family’s future. The role of men in this piece of literature outweighs the role of women by far since there are only two female characters in the entire story. They, as well as the other women in their environment, are expected to be subservient to men socially and economically. In John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, the role of women is oppressed throughout the entire culture they inhibit, yet this stigma is defeated in facing death. One key female character, Juana, is a determined and strategic character, yet she is only expected to uphold stereotypical wifely duties to her husband Kino. Juana is resourceful at multiple encounters in the story, specifically when her child was exposed to the venom of a scorpion at the beginning; this is in comparison to her husband who “was helpless” and “in the way,” (Steinbeck 6) while she was the one to take action and suck the venom out of the bite that would kill her son. She is strong-willed through her actions afterwards to request the selfish doctor for her child’s care; his chances to aid the family were certainly not likely since the family’s lack of wealth, yet she decided to appeal to him anyways. Demonstrating these traits once again, had Juana not stayed with Kino when f... ... middle of paper ... ...he had only chosen to reply no once and meant it; he could not find any “weakness in her face, for fear or irresolution” (Steinbeck 52). This refusal contradicts the idea of a woman in their culture, she was no longer submissive to Kino as she was determined while standing up to him. After this crucial event, “The two...were not walking in single file...but side by side“ (Steinbeck 100), their experiences led them to demonstrate equality, but only after the threat of death. Juana knew not only how to solve the problem of the pearl early on, she also knew how to save her husband’s life as he risked his own. The role of females in The Pearl demonstrates a mistaken oppression of women by men; Juana proved that women had the skills and traits that were often overlooked simply because of gender in their culture and displayed the defeat of this stigma with her equal, Kino.

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