The Pearl, written by the famous author, John Steinbeck, is set in a small village in La Paz on the coast of the Baja Peninsula. The third person omniscient point of view that John Steinbeck has employed within The Pearl influences the readers view on the discrimination of both class and gender in modern society. Specifically through the themes presented such as wealth, corruption and greed, and traditional gender representations. Steinbeck utilises these themes to ensure that the reader is positioned to empathise with Kino and Juana as they discover ‘the pearl of the world’ in the hope of providing a better life for their family.
Wealth vs. Poverty:
The value and evaluation of material entities is a central theme in The Pearl, and is central in positioning the reader to this response. The value of the pearl, from the moment it is discovered seems to be worth Coyotito’s life. Steinbeck cleverly uses Kino’s canoe and the pearl itself to underline the difference in economic wealth and social capital. For example, when the pearl dealers underestimate the price of the pearl, this indicates to the reader how distant the monetary worth of something can be from its perceived value. Kino’s canoe, on the other hand is described as “the one thing of value he owned in the world”, unlike the pearl, which is arbitrarily assigned in value by those in power, the canoe is valuable because it acts as a “source of food” and a tool for fishing and pearl diving. Through the characterisation of Kino, his true colours are revealed once he discovers the pearl, whose ‘power’ brings with it the possibility of a better future for himself and his family. “We will have new clothes,” and “My son will read and write,” indicates Kino’s love for his family and that instead of thinking of all the ways that he can spend the pearl on himself, his first thought is to provide his family with sufficient funds to ensure that they can break out of their place in the class system...
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