The Pearl short summary & analysis

The Pearl


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The Pearl - John Steinbeck

Categories:Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

The Pearl Analysis

We can say that Kino and Juana are the protagonists of the novel whose setting is a geography that is very close to perfection. The married couple, who are living in a poor residential area, are in search of a solution because of a critical crisis they experienced. In terms of merchants and their lives, even though this point seems like a turning point in their lives, life will turn them back to where they started. As having lost their kids… Even though people’s expectations maybe look like more valuable than what they already have, a masterpiece which questions the values that make man human!

The Pearl Short Summary

Everything starts with mishaps which bring the greatest expectations as well. When their kid gets stung by a scorpion and was left to die by a doctor whom they know from a different race, Kino starts to find a pearl which will change their lives and he finds it. Although the book contains lots of mystical elements, the author - within the patterns of low and upper classes formed by people’s motivation and hubris, in the moments of turning point in the transformation that they personally built - depicts successfully how people poison and destroy themselves. You have been reading in the book that the powerful have power in the real sense; the people may only fantasize the world they hope interpreting the patterns such as destiny and spell with reference to fate and everything happens on a kind of one way course.

The pearl, on one hand, is a light for Kino’s expectations and for his son’s health and his educational expenses; and on the other hand, it has more than one meaning for thieves and rapacious merchants. Just like the colonies, the townsmen, who are depicted as hungry and poor jackals, are not very different from these thieves. When Kino goes to the merchants to barter the pearl for money, the rumors about it circulate around the town very swiftly. The low prices given by the merchants who agree on all hands and the capitalist system’s cash of flow, which has multiple buyers and controlled from a single center, receive their shares from the harsh criticism in the book, too.

Kino gives up selling the pearl in such a low price. One day, Juana, who has severe tendency on spell and damnation, attempts to throw the pearl out into the sea. Kino wakes up and beats Juana. Meanwhile, we sense a kind of social derision between the God and male character of the novel. The male character is depicted so powerfully that the female character sinks into despair at the same rate. Kino is now overwhelmed by his ambitions and goes blind with the dream of a happy future. Kino kills a man that day. They begin to run away by the help of his brother. After escaping which is depicted throughout many pages, Kino lies in ambush. He overcomes the ones who follow him. But their son is no longer alive now. Besides, because of the bullets prepared for Kino… Was it bad luck which causes their son’s death and which harasses Juana consistently? Or was it because Kino could not achieve his dreams although he had in his hand that pearl which would probably make him so rich? Is the fate of the poor and the needy surrounded forever by bad luck? After all these unanswered questions Kino returns to the town and throws the pearl back into the sea. There is no longer bad luck or a hopeful future now.

One cannot help recalling those colonies in Africa exploited for their pearls and underground mines. According to the depictions in the book, Kino, who is from a working class, builds a dictatorship against Juana and his family. As it is happened in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, when Kino takes possession of the pearl, he shatters lots of things including his family with his ambition for future. Pearl merchants and the doctor symbolize a class where those who have power oppress others continually. By their racial superiority, these people also symbolize the murderers of casualties who are the victims of nameless people in true stories. But, it is depicted successfully in the book that man may draw even their immediate family to death for the sake of their ambitions and blinding insatiability.

Though it may seem like a pessimistic story, it is certain that it is just like a ballad which tells how man, without feeling a need neither to himself nor the others, can manage to kill his own hopes which he owns from his birthday onward and which never ends. And besides, more beautifully than black magic!


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