“…Kino’s brain cleared from its red concentration and he knew the sound—the keening, moaning, rising hysterical cry from the little cave in the side of the stone mountain, the cry of death”(Steinbeck, 1947, p. 87). In the novel, The Pearl, John Steinbeck presented a family of three and a pearl to demonstrate how the power of greed and selfishness from wealth can impact and destroy a once content family. An example of how John Steinbeck became an advocate for the oppressed and social reform by addressing the societal differences and class struggles among the people of La Paz is in a parable he wrote called The Pearl.
John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, in 1902. Enrolled in literature and writing courses, he left Stanford University in 1925 without obtaining a degree. For the next five years, he made a living as a laborer, a New York City journalist, and began his life as an author. Fame and fortune did come quickly; it was not until he published Tortilla Flat (1935) that he received popular success and financial security. As his popularity prospered, he became an advocate for the oppressed and began writing numerous experimental dramas including, The Pearl (Steinbeck, 1947).
In chapter one of The Pearl, a scorpion stung Kino’s son, Coyotito, forcing then to seek the care of a doctor. “They came to the place where the brush houses stopped and the city of stone and plaster began…”(Steinbeck, 1947, p. 8). To attempt to address the societal differences and class struggles among the people of La Paz, John Steinbeck describes the different lifestyles between Kino’s family and the doctor.
“And the rhythm of the family song was the grinding stone where Juana worked the corn for the morning cakes”(Steinbeck, 1947, ...
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...k, 1947, p. 23), it began to have an injurious effect into Kino’s simplistic life (SparkNotes Editors, 2002). Juana and Kino’s brother began to seek the pearl as a threat rather than a blessing as the pearl began to symbolize and associate more materialistic desires. With Kino’s desire to acquire wealth from the pearl, he altered from a happy and content father into a savage criminal. By Kino’s demonstration of the destruction of innocence from greed and desire, the pearl soon became a symbol of human destruction. Kino’s gluttony shortly leads him to violently mistreat his wife and also to the death of his only son, Coyotito (SparkNotes Editors, 2002). SparkNotes Editors (2002) believed that his greed ultimately isolated Kino from his cultural customs and society. Overall, according to Wheeler (2008), the parable’s moral lesson was that “money cannot buy happiness.”
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