The Pearl

The Pearl

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The Pearl

 

 

Microsoft Encarta defines superstition to be an irrational but usually deep-seated belief in the magical effects of a particular action or ritual, especially in the likelihood that good or bad luck will result from performing it. Religion is defined as people's beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature, and worship of a deity or deities, and divine involvement in the universe and human life.

 

In the first chapter, we find out that Juana does not know whether to trust her original polytheistic religion, or the newly introduced monotheistic religion (most likely Catholicism). "Under her breath Juana repeated an ancient magic to guard against such evil, and on top of that she muttered a Hail Mary between her clenched teeth."(4) This could have different meanings about what is, and what is not superstition, depending on your point of view.

 

One who believes the native religion would believe strongly that the "ancient magic" would help Coyotito. The Catholic idea of just one god is ludicrous and irrational, which means that from this point of view, Catholicism is a superstition.

 

A Catholic will believe that saying Hail Mary will help Coyotito, but it is not a good thing to pray to the other gods. In the Catholic religion, God is always testing your faith. Believing in two religions means that your faith is weak, so God might punish Juana's family.

 

If the person viewing this is an atheist they will believe that there is no god or gods and will consider it irrelevant. That means they think that both the methods of prayer are mere superstitions, and doing one or both will have no positive or negative effect.

 

The last point of view is Juana's. Juana is pretty sure that there is a higher power, but is not sure to trust her history, or this newly proposed god. She doesn't know what to choose, so she decides not to make a choice, and pray for both gods. She wants Coyotito to have the highest chances of surviving, so she prays to all gods.

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This means that since Juana believes both of the rituals may be effective, that superstition and religion are inseparable.

 

In this single, twenty-seven word sentence, there is an amazingly large amount of religion, superstition, and confusion. Steinbeck uses his amazing writing technique to get a very large amount of information in the tiniest of sentences, by making it so that every point of view sees it as something else.

 
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