The Pearl by John Steinbeck: A Symbol of Greed and Destruction

Pages: 5 (2165 words) Published: December 15, 2013
In John Steinbeck's The Pearl, the symbolism associated with the Pearl of the World evolves throughout the novella from a symbol of hope and prosperity to a symbol of greed and destruction. The Pearl tells of the story of Kino, who is ignorant of this evolution, and how the pearl corrupts him with greed, as well as others, throughout the story. In the beginning of The Pearl, when Kino first finds it, it symbolizes hope and a new beginning for Kino's family. Kino thinks the pearl will bring vast amounts of wealth to his family as he is entranced by its magnificence. However, as the novella progresses, the pearl's symbolism transforms into that of greed and evil. The pearl is starting to negatively affect Kino's life as greed is corrupting him and the ones around him. Finally, at the end of the novella, Kino realizes the true nature of the pearl as its symbolism becomes sinister and malevolent. The pearl causes many external forces to bring hardship and pain into Kino's life, and he is ignorant of the evil associated with the pearl until the end of the novella. The pearl that Kino once believes to be glorious evolves into something more adverse as the novella progresses, corrupting many people with greed and causing many unfortunate events to occur. Kino is ignorant of how sinister the pearl really is due to the pearl corrupting his judgment with greed as he believes selling the pearl will benefit his family. The Pearl shows just how people can instantly change when blessed with wealth or power and become corrupt, just like how Kino's judgment became corrupt with greed, and ultimately, destroyed many of his existing relationships. In the beginning of the novella, the pearl symbolizes hope, prosperity, and a new beginning for Kino's family. When Kino first sees the pearl, he envisions it as a blessing that will benefit his family. Kino perceives the pearl as magnificent and an insurance that things will become better for the family. "And to Kino the secret melody of the maybe pearl broke clear and beautiful, rich and warm and lovely, glowing and gloating and triumphant. In the surface of the great pearl he could see dream forms," (Steinbeck 19). When Kino lays his eyes upon the pearl, not only is it shown to be grandiose, but it also gives off a comforting melody considered beautiful and glowing. Kino sees this as assurance that the pearl will bring good fortune upon his family since it must have great value due to its magnificence. The pearl becomes a symbol of hope for Kino as he believes it will bring prosperity to his family. Kino anticipates him and Juana becoming officially married, getting new clothes, a rifle, and securing an education for Coyotito. Kino sees the pearl as a new beginning for his family as its wealth will bring great fortune. Kino's intentions are good as he envisions the pearl will allow his family to have the luxuries they never get to have, and more importantly, allow Coyotito to have an education. This is extremely important to Kino since Coyotito will become the first "formally" educated person within the oppressed Indian community. Kino longs for his family to be free of the prejudice that binds them from becoming nothing more than a member of the lowest social class in society. When Kino looks at the pearl, he sees dreams of the future, and the pearl becomes a symbol of faith. This leads to how the pearl is symbolic of a new beginning for the Indian community as it represents freedom from oppression. The Indian community that Kino lives in is segregated from a dominant Hispanic community who discriminates the Indians, which is shown when the doctor refuses to treat Coyotito for his poison. While at first Kino sees the pearl as an opportunity to treat his son, this develops into an opportunity for Coyotito to gain an education in school. The pearl will allow Coyotito to escape oppression by gaining an education, which will benefit the entire community as he can educate others as well. Through...
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