Symbolism in John Steinbeck's The Pearl

The Pearl (novel)

Symbolism in The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Novels were created to show a very simplistic view in great depth. The Pearl, by John Steinbeck, takes a novel to its most unadulterated form. Steinbeck does this by conveying life symbolically. Through symbols, Steinbeck offers the reader a more clear look at life and its content.

Kino plays a role of a young diver who lives in a small village on the coastline of Mexico. Kino is thought of as, ' 'a wise, primitive man' ' (French 128) who is hungry for fortune because of the great pearl, which he discovers. As Steinbeck unfolds The Pearl, he presents Kino as a, 'angry, frightened, but resolute man, determined to keep what he has earned' (Beachler 62). He has earned 'Pearl of the World,' (Steinbeck 27) a legendary item of considerable wealth. 'Kino, on the other hand sees the great pearl as providing the opportunity to pay for a church wedding, new clothes, a rifle, and schooling for his son...' (Warren 28). From these wants and needs, Kino symbolizes 'clearly good and innocent' (McCarthy 108), but Kino changes in his desperate attempt to bring about wealthy reforms. Even his conscience, which is symbolized by the music in Kino's head, tries to warn him about his greed. This 'music' symbolizes ones own conscience in the real world. By the end of this relentless parable, the reader sees the irony in the fact that even a good person can be led astray by his feeling of inner responsibility to provide for his family (Warren 128). Kino's actions, which are being motivated to raise Coyotito, his son, in greatness leads to the death of Coyotito, which is Kino's greatest loss (McCarthy 108). Through these symbols which Kino represents, the reader can witness how many desires in life can lead to disaster.

Coyotito is a product of Kino. This ties him into the story as one of the main characters even though Steinbeck speaks of Coyotito few times in the novel. Steinbeck uses Coyotito as a symbol of unchanging innocence being...
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