John Steinbeck's discussion of the interaction between Native Americans and colonists in "The Pearl"

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Steinbeck's The Pearl is one of his most intriguing pieces. Steinbeck manages to fit many different ideas into a short novella that is under a hundred pages. However, what makes The Pearl truly a great book is his critique of colonial society, and the interaction of Native Americans and colonists. Steinbeck emphasizes the differences between the colonists and the native Indians by using such symbols as the relationship between town and village, education, and instinct. Steinbeck also shows that he views changing one's station, or attempting to, as foolish and impossible, but that trying to is needed to provide an example for others.

Steinbeck uses the differences between town and village as a metaphor for the differences between the colonists and the Native Americans. Steinbeck shows how he uses the stark differences between the huts of the Native Americans and the grand villas of the colonists in the following quote:"They came to the place where the brush houses stopped and the city of stone and plaster began, the city of harsh outer walls and inner cool gardens where a little water played and the bougainvillea crusted where walls with purple and brick-red and white." (Steinbeck, pg. 8)In this quote, Steinbeck emphasizes the stark difference between the village, made of simple materials, and the town, made of expensive materials. Steinbeck also uses the town's buildings as a metaphor for the people within, as Steinbeck describes the buildings as having "harsh outer walls," but having "inner cool gardens." This could be a metaphor for the people within the building, portraying the people inside them as, at once, very kind and nice, but only once those walls had been let down. This shows the colonists as being very xenophobic, and being kind to their own race but "harsh" to other races.

Steinbeck reinforces the idea that the colonists were living better than the Native Americans in the following quote:"The procession left the brush houses and entered the stone and plaster city where the streets were a little wider and there was a narrow pavement beside the buildings." (Steinbeck, pg. 47)Steinbeck shows that the Native Americans saw the colonists' living conditions as better than theirs, and that the streets were "a little wider," which could be seen as a commentary for most things, and that in most things, what the colonists lived "a little" better. Steinbeck here tells us, and when combined with the quote above, the colonists are living better than the Native Americans. Because the colonists have plenty of resources, and the Native Americans are not living in the luxury of the colonists, it indicates an unfair share of wealth, which is oddly skewed in the favor of the colonists. This reinforces the already presented idea that the colonists are, overall, living better than the Native Americans.

Steinbeck's next way to differentiate between the colonists and the Native Americans is using their instinctual actions. Steinbeck shows that the colonists and Native Americans are instinctively different, thus he attempts to give an excuse, or perhaps a reason, for the differences between them, and their outcomes. Steinbeck explores into the instinctual differences between the Native Americans and the colonists in the following quotes:"There was sorrow in Kino's rage, but this last thing had tightened him beyond breaking. He was an animal now, for hiding, for attacking, and he lived only to protect himself and his family… [despite his need for a canoe,]…never once did it occur to him to take one of the canoes of his neighbor." (Steinbeck, pg. 42)"He could kill the doctor more easily than he could talk to him, for all of the doctor's race spoke to all of Kino's race as though they were simple animals." (Steinbeck, pg. 9)Once again, we can see the recurring theme that the Native Americans have become whatever the colonists mold them to be, and as seen in the second quote, Steinbeck says that "the doctor's race spoke to all of...