The Pearl - by John Steinbeck
The Pearl

"The simplistic style of writing makes it a great read."

         Although The Pearl is less than 100 pages and an easy read, Steinbeck still develops a deep symbolic story about a young Indian diver named Kino. Kino, his wife, Juana, and their son Coyotito live in the village of La Paz, which poverty overwhelms. When a scorpion stings Coyotito, Kino and his family are forced to go to the city so that Coyotito may receive medical attention. The doctor refuses to help Kino’s son because they are in the lower class of society. Kino’s luck changes when he goes diving for pearls and discovers the “Pearl of the World”. However, Kino and other town’s people grow a deep attraction for the pearl, which begins to corrupt them. Steinbeck shows that greed and lust for an object or possession will corrupt one’s mind and soul.

            Steinbeck uses a simple, easy to read writing style in The Pearl, with very little dialogue and the clever use of songs to display character’s emotions. Kino sings the Song of the Family whenever he is happy. When Kino senses danger, he hears the Song of Evil. Steinbeck even creates a Song for the Pearl to demonstrate the symbolic power the pearl contains. The simplistic style of writing is what makes The Pearl a great read.

             Steinbeck loads The Pearl with symbols, which give the story deep meaning. The pearl represents the beauty and attractiveness of wealth and power, then later becomes  an object of corruption and evil. Steinbeck also uses the scorpion in the beginning of the book as a symbol for evil and misfortune that has entered Kino’s life.

         Steinbeck displays the unequal rights between the rich and poor when the doctor thinks he is wasting his time with the lower class of society. The poverty Kino and his family face reminds the reader that many people of the world face poverty every day. Steinbeck reminds readers to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, rather than lusting after material possessions.

        Overall, Steinbeck creates a simple plot and turns it into a deep symbolic story which makes this book a great read. Although The Pearl is not lengthy like his other book, The Grapes of Wrath, he still gets the main theme and points of the story across just as well, but in fewer pages. It is this accomplishment that makes The Pearl a must read.

   - Will P.

"Steinbeck accents the unfair treatment we give to a person we think of as lesser."

         The Pearl, written by John Steinbeck, is a novel that shows how greed a jealousy can destroy.  An indigenous pearl diver named Kino discovers a large pearl one day while diving.  He thinks that his new found wealth can solve his family’s struggle to survive.  Quickly the small fishing village he lives in begins to turn against him.  Kino decides to set out for The Capital to sell his pearl.  First driven by thoughts of being able to provide for his family, Kino gradually starts to become protective of the pearl.  It becomes an obsession and it turns him away from his family and friends. 

     I found the book to be interesting.  Some parts were very suspenseful and others were a little slow.  All in all I thought is was good and I definitely recommend it. It's a relatively short novel but its messages are very strong.  The difficulties Kino faces are struggles that we all face.  Steinbeck uses themes like greed, jealousy, the struggle to survive, caring for loved ones. Steinbeck uses the pearl to represent wealth and a good life for Kino and his family.  As the novel progresses the pearl begins to illustrate all things that are evil to Kino.  This is easy to relate to because it is an everyday problem.  We all know how hard it is to share even when you have a lot of something.

I thought this was a well written novel and easy to read.  Not the most exciting book I’ve read but I still thought it was good.  Steinbeck is brutally honest with the situations of his characters.  He accents the unfair treatment we give to a person we think of as lesser.  He also shows how easy it is to destroy the relations we have for our loved ones over material non-necessities.  I do not believe the book was written for entertainment.  Although it still is a fun read, I think Steinbeck was more interested in showing the corruption we have towards people of less fortunate circumstances.  The Pearl is a good book that is worth the read.  Steinbeck harsh depiction of reality makes this novel very realistic and eye opening.

   - David E.

"An easy vocabulary makes it acceptable to all ages; it only takes an hour or two to read."

         The Pearl by John Steinbeck is a very short and easy read. The book will not take you more than two hours to read and it is interesting enough to keep you entertained till the end. The overall theme of the book is not to let greed control you and that man is never in control of his future.  The story takes place a long time ago in a small town in Mexico. Kino, the main protagonist, has a child who is attacked by a poisonous scorpion and Kino must find a way to raise money to pay the hedonistic doctor for medicine.  Out of desperation and fear for his child Kino decides to go pearl hunting. He ends up finding the “Pearl of the World” and the curse that follows it. The pearl makes Kino paranoid of almost everyone but his wife and fills his mind with promises that even with the pearl of the world would be hard to attain. With his new treasure Kino must go through many tragic trials before he realizes what is truly important in life (don’t worry no spoilers here).

                Steinbeck translates that everything from family to foe has a song that lets you know whether or not harm is in your way. He also uses a lot of fragments and chops when danger is nearby. He uses that style of writing to create suspense and to pull your eyes closer and closer to the book so that you cannot take your eyes away from it. He also uses great visual imagery so that you can see the mountains, villages, and ocean. John Steinbeck probably got his idea for this book while listening to old pearl hunter fables when he was traveling in Mexico, and decided to integrate to a more recent time in history.

                In my opinion this was a good book and an extremely easy read. Steinbeck did a great job of telling a story with a lesson and showing me the perspective of a desperate pearl hunter.  Overall I give this book 4 out of 5; even though this book is great and entertaining it just wasn’t the type of book I’m used to reading. Despite what a few people say about this book I would definitely recommend this to a friend to read. The tragic ending only teaches us a life lesson about the flaws of humankind and how you should never “count your chickens before they hatch”. This book has an easy vocabulary that makes it acceptable to all ages, and only takes an hour or two to read.

   - Daniel P.

"When Kino's greed leads to disaster, only then does he realized what he has become."

        In John Steinbeck’s book, The Pearl, he shows how the obsession of obtaining wealth can lead to the destruction of those trying to obtain it and those they love. He shows this through the life of a poor Indian pearl diver, Kino. He lives with Juana, his wife, and his son, Coyotito, in the city of La Paz. Kino is forced to go into town to seek medical help when his baby son is stung by a scorpion, but the Doctor turns him away when he realizes they have no money. His luck changes when he goes pearl diving and he finds “the Pearl of the World.” News of his find spreads quickly around the small town and the pearl buyers do what he feared the most, conspire against him. Once he realizes what they have done he sets off to the capital with his family to try and get a fair price. They encounter many obstacles on their journey to the capital and in the end Kino’s greed results in an unimaginable incident.

            Steinbeck uses “the Pearl of the World” to assist him in demonstrating the main theme of his book, the destructive power of greed. The narrator effectively describes man’s greed through his observation that “humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more” in response to Kino’s plotting of all the things that he  is going to do once he gets the money from the pearl. The pearl helps him show this through the way it changes Kino. Before Kino found the pearl he was a hardworking father trying to provide for his family, but after his discovery of the pearl all he can think of is what he is going to do with all the money he will get. The pearl also changes the way the rest of the citizens act as well. They are engulfed by their greed and try to get some of the money that Kino will get from the pearl. At first the pearl is a sign of a change in Kino’s fortune, but after greed begins to consume him it becomes a dark evil omen that can do nothing but destroy. Juana tries to warn him about it, but he will not listen and only responds in violence. Eventually Kino’s greed leads to an unforeseeable act of destruction and it is only then that he realizes what he has become.

            Steinbeck’s The Pearl is a great quick read. Even though it is only a hundred pages long, Steinbeck is still able to effectively touch on a very important point. The subject of greed’s destructive power is thoroughly shown in this book through the life of a poor diver who suddenly finds wealth, but is not able to handle it and soon becomes destroyed by it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that asked me about it or to anyone that enjoys an interesting story with great moral lessons.

   - Eric I.

"a good story about chasing dreams"

        If you are looking for a short but sweet read, a gulp of The Pearl will leave you hungry for more of John Steinbeck’s classics.  Based on a Mexican folk tale, The Pearl is the story of a lower class man who finds a most magnificent pearl – imagine that – and follows him in the series of events that come next.  But, don’t judge this book by its cover, or its name.  Although the plot may seem predictable, Steinbeck’s distinctively simple writing style and many edge-of-seat moments make this book a page-turner.  Although this book is small, huge social and personal issues are jam-packed inside. Similar to his other novels, Steinbeck illustrates the effects of chasing personal dreams.  Woven throughout there are also problems of racial and social hierarchy.
            Throughout the work Steinbeck effectively uses creative imagery to make you feel like you are an observing prop in the heart of the action.  Reading the following passage, for example, I felt like I was diving in the sea side-by-side with Kino: “The brown algae waved in the gentle currents and the green eel grass swayed and little sea horses clung to its stems.  Spotted botete, the poison fish, lay on the bottom in the eel-grass beds, and the bright-colored swimming crabs scampered over them.” (ch.2 pg.13)  Steinbeck also sprinkles the archetypal color yellow and songs throughout the story.  As the narrator explains, Kino has several songs that play as background music in his head when different things happen. For example, whenever he hears the song of the enemy, he knows to be watchful because predators of his pearl are close by.  Steinbeck uses this to emphasize the point when Kino notices that he hasn’t heard the song of the family in a long time, symbolizing that he has allowed the enemy’s presence to threaten his family’s wellbeing.  After reading this wonderful work, I believe that the clarity of these symbols and figurative language devices emphasize the major theme of the work even more.  

            With such a universally recognizable theme, I am sure that any reader, male or female, can associate with The Pearl. After all, we all have dreams.  Although it is a seemingly juvenile read, this Steinbeck classic will leave you wandering, “What would I have done if I had found the pearl?”  This novel is a prime example of two things: First, a book’s cover, size, or title does not affect the value of its contents.  Secondly, there is no such thing as old wisdom because, as seen in The Pearl, ancient life lessons are forever new and applicable in the modern world.  In conclusion, if you are searching for a good hearty story about chasing dreams and keeping your head on straight when faced with magnificent possibilities, I personally suggest reading The Pearl by John Steinbeck.

   - Chelsea G.

"Kino shares similarities to the innocent yet corrupted Gollum of "Lord of the Rings""

        The Pearl was a rollercoaster ride jam-packed with moral lessons fused into an unforgettable story. Like his other novels, Steinbeck uses "The Pearl" to invoke thought upon the readers. Steinbeck creates unique characters whose connection lies with the dramatic effect that money can have on an individual and those around him. The reader is quickly introduced to the poor yet happy lifestyle of Kino and his family. Owning just the necessities to make it day by day, Kino and his family live as pearl divers and outcasts to all but their personal society formed upon the shore. When sudden wealth is brought to Kino, their ultimate destruction is also brought. The "pearl of the world" that Kino finds slowly begins to twist him into a man who beats his wife and does whatever it takes to get the most money from his precious pearl.

          Kino shares similarities with the innocent yet corrupted Gollum of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings". Both became obsessed and corrupted by an item of great value, and it eventually led to their destruction. Gollum killed his friend on his birthday to recover the magnificent ring, and Kino killed a man and beat his wife in order to keep his pearl.
Today, the same rise and fall that Kino and his family experience in "The Pearl" is also being experienced by those who obtain a tremendous amount of money in a short period of time. Like Kino, many lottery winners cannot control their sudden wealth.

           I highly recommend "The Pearl" to anyone who hasn't already read it. The basic values taught alongside a brilliant story should not be passed up. Even reluctant readers will find the short read an excellent story. The language used is not very difficult to understand. I believe that one can get the most out of the story as a 7th Grade advanced reader, but the story is most suitable to all.

          To those who enjoyed "The Pearl", I would also recommend "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Of Mice and Men" which are both by Steinbeck. Both of these novels use the same moving power of his writing style to teach valuable lessons.

"Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it."

        Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. Howmany times have we heard this phrase? I know I hear it at least once acmonth. We all know that sometimes the things we want may bring us troublesin the end. This is the basis for Steinbeckšs novella The Pearl.cThe story takes place in Mexico where Kino, watches his son Coyotito get stung by a scorpion. Kino and Juana bring their child to the local doctor but he pretends that he is not at his house. He does not want to serve their kind. Juana then prays and prays and asks for Kino to find a huge pearl. Their prayers are answered.
         However, the pearl they thought would save their sons life, and improve their own, begins to bring them bad luck.
Steinbeckšs writing is the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. If you read the novella for nothing else read it for his writing style. His beautiful writing keeps you reading until the very end, even if the book makes you depressed. He also is great at bringing your emotions in the book by introducing songs to you. The songs show what is most important to Kino at any given time. The Song of the Family is strong when he cares about the family and the Song ofEvil is strong when he senses danger. The songs are Kino's senses; they are subliminal and appear without him noticing. They are part of his everyday life. This technique of using the songs helps pull you through the novella.

          I would recommend this novella to anyone looking for a quick read with amazing writing. If you liked Of Mice and It is very easy to read and is an enjoyable read. However if you are looking for a book with a happy ending then The Pearl is not for you.

   - Danielle L.

"Steinbeck allows you to be very at home with the native culture."

         Have you ever had a friend that was performing an act of stupidity while you were saying to yourself, “Come on.  Are you really going to do that?”  However, when you think back you probably would have done the same.  This is the framework on which John Steinbeck’s novel “The Pearl” is written.  I have to say I have only read three of Steinbeck’s novels but every single one of them seems to have a gloomy feel in the end. Nevertheless, “The Pearl” was a good novel. 

          The plot started out with a diver who is looking for a pearl, a source of income that the natives have had to fall back on for all his life.  Even though the odds of him finding a pearl are slim, I bet you guessed it, he found one. (Anyone see that one coming?).  This is no ordinary pearl, this is “The pearl of the world” and it is “perfect as the moon.”  It is said to be about the size of a seagull’s egg.  But if you're like me and have no clue what that size is, I did some research for the both of us and it turns out to be a little bit smaller than a chicken’s egg.  Once he finds this pearl word spreads faster than a comet that he has a huge stone and bad things start to happen. The novel draws you in and keeps you interested all the way to its intense and depressing conclusion.

          Overall the novel is exciting, with a little bit of predictability because of all the foreshadowing.  Steinbeck allows you to be very at home with the native culture even though you have never experienced it first hand.  Since you can relate with Kino and put yourself in his shows it allows you to feel what he felt, be sad when he was sad and be happy when he was happy.  Overall this was a good short story, with a sad ending.

   - Jake H.