The Pearl

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The Village: In many ways, the village in which most of the story takes place, is a symbol of the oppression of the people. To create this symbol, Steinbeck personifies the town. The Gulf Another important element of the setting is the sea. It, too, takes on symbolic importance in the story. The Gulf provides the villagers with their livelihood and sustenance-fish and pearls. However, like the town, it cannot be trusted. Steinbeck uses the sea to make his readers aware that things are not always what the seem. "Although the morning was young, the hazy mirage was up. The uncertain air that magnified some things and blotted out others hung over the whole Gulf so that all sights were unreal and vision could not be trusted....There was no certainty in seeing, no proof that what you saw was there or not there [emphases added]." Good versus Evil

The most prominent theme in the parable of the pearl is that of the struggle between good and evil. As is the case with most parables the characters and events of the story are rendered more definitely aligned with good or evil than would be possible to appreciate amongst the degree of overlap inherent to the real world. Throughout the story the songs that Kino hears in his head reveals to him on an instinctual level of a person or thing's true nature. Thus, the song of evil accompanies the Priest who treats the indians like children and the doctor who regards them as animals. The song of the family, or the song of life, accompanies the life-sustaining morning activities as well as the family itself as they flee from their pursuers. In Kino's conception of good and evil anything that threatens the family is evil. Thus the song of evil can also accompany natural things like the scorpion which stings Coyotito. The pearl, also a product of nature, is never clearly defined as inherently good or evil. Rather its effect upon the family is shown to be evil once it has proven to be a treacherous repository of Kino's dreams....
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