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The Pearl by John Steinbeck

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Bhrugu Patel

on 12 November 2013

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Transcript of The Pearl by John Steinbeck

The Pearl by John Steinbeck: Symbolic Changes
Plot Summary
The main characters in The Pearl by John Steinbeck are Kino and Juana. These characters are Native Indians and where they live, they are treated badly due to the fact that they are at the bottom of the social pyramid. Their son, Coyotito, gets stung by a scorpion at the beginning of the book and when Kino and Juana go to the doctor's house in the hope that he will cure their son, he doesn't cure Coyotito because of the family's race and their lack of wealth. After Kino and Juana leave the doctor's house, they go back to work of pearl diving. There in the ocean, Kino finds the "Pearl of the world" which was said to be worth a lot of money. This event of finding the pearl changes Kino's life forever.
Wealth and Social Power
At the beginning of the story, the pearl symbolizes wealth and at that time, if you have wealth, you also had social power. When Kino finds the pearl after his son, Coyotito, gets stung by a scorpion, he gets excited of the wealth contained in the pearl.
Throughout the story, the pearl stands for greed and desires and this can sometimes be seen through some characters. During the time when Kino found the pearl, many dreams started appearing in his head which were possible with the pearl.
Desires and False Hopes
Bhrugu Patel
Mrs. Horton Period 3
Works Cited
"He spoke softly, 'We will be married - in the church.' ... 'We will have new clothes.' ... 'A rifle,' he said. 'Perhaps a rifle.' ... 'My son will go to school.'" Page 24-25
In all of these parts of different dialogues of what Kino plans to get now that he has the pearl, none of them mention giving some things for others. Considering the fact that Kino and Juana were one of the poorest people in their town, the first thing that they would think of once they get money would probably not be giving money to others or donating. But with people like the doctor, he should be a little kind-hearted and give some money to charity or to others because he is affluent.
Connection With Wealth and Social Power
During the time of slavery (before the Civil War) in the United States, most slaves experienced horrible conditions and the things they were living through were the worst in their lives. Some slaves were actually treated like humans while others were treated as savage animals. However it was usually the slaves that were treated as humans who might have ever gotten a chance to buy their freedom and get out of slavery. Due to the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which was a document which freed all slaves in the South, after the Civil War, all of the slaves got their freedom but over a long period of time. Also, in only a handful number of occasions, ex-slaves were actually able to raise in the social pyramid because of the fact that they had money. In this case, Kino could earn a little social power and some respect because he found the pearl and now, he would have money in such a large number that he never had before.
Connection With Greed and Desires
Connection With Desires and False Hopes
Pearl Diving
False hopes and desires is another word for what the pearl symbolizes. When Kino looks into the pearl after he found it, he sees things that he wants to have but doesn't have.
"He spoke softly, 'We will be married - in the church.' ... 'We will have new clothes.' ... 'A rifle,' he said. 'Perhaps a rifle.' ... 'My son will go to school.'" Page 24-25
The pearl only shows dreams, desires, and wishes to its owner until that person has been hit by a huge wave of sadness and grief and in this case, Kino looses his son, Coyotito. After Kino feels like all happiness has left from the world due to the loss of Coyotito, the pearl starts showing him reality. All the things that the pearl shows Kino before the death of Coyotito are false because none of them took place after Coyotito died. Filled with grief, Kino throws the pearl back in the ocean to where it belongs after he came back to La Paz from half way in his trip to the capital. Another reason that Kino threw the pearl back in the ocean is because with Coyotito gone, their hopes of raising in the social pyramid vanished because Kino had decided that Coyotito was going to go to school and learn how to read and write which would break the cycle of oppression under the white people.
"And in the surface of the pearl he saw Coyotito lying in the little cave with the top of his head shot away. And the pearl was ugly; it was gray, like a malignant growth. And Kino heard the music of the pearl, distorted and insane." Page 89
Desires and False Hopes (con't)
This quote shows that after Kino felt as if all his happiness had left the world, he could see the reality and the true nature of the pearl. He was finally able to hear the true music of the pearl which he said was "distorted and insane." It was as if to see the real identity of the pearl, you would have to loose something very important to you and for Kino, Coyotito was the thing that brought the most happiness into his life.
Greed (con't)
Another situation that involves greed in the book is the times when Kino gets attacked because someone is trying to steal the pearl from him. This shows that whoever the thief might be, they are up to no good and are hungry for money.
"But Juana's hand came creeping over him in warning, and then the sound came again! the whisper of a foot on dry earth and the scratch of fingers on the soil." Page 37
This quote shows that a person in the story was willing to steal the pearl from Kino to make himself rich and make Kino poor again. This person knew the risk of stealing from Kino and they still took it just to obtain the money. The risks were if the person was Native and got caught, the act of stealing would be considered treachery and another risk was no matter what race the person was, he/she could have been killed by Kino who was trying to protect his pearl and prevent anyone from taking it. Also, depending on how much discrimination and segregation there was in the town of La Paz, there could have been some serious punishment for someone to steal from someone else. This shows that greed is a destructive force and it changed Kino who was a happy and caring father into a savage criminal showing how greed can destroy innocence.
Now that Kino is seen as a rich man, he will be able to rise a little in the social pyramid of the town of La Paz but not as high as the rich whites including the doctor. This is due to the fact that all the white people were at the top of the pyramid of power no matter how much money they had and the Natives are always on the bottom of the social pyramid. Due to his wealth, Kino will be treated with more respect than before. Therefore, the pearl symbolizes wealth which could earn someone like Kino, social power.
Supporting this, on page 24 it says, "And Juan Tomas who squatted on Kino's right hand because he was his brother, asked, 'What will you do now that you have become a rich man?'"
In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, there is a mirror called the Mirror of Erised which would not show someone’s reflection but shows the “deepest and most desperate desires of one’s heart” according to Albus Dumbledore. He had also said that the mirror shows neither truth nor knowledge and some people had gone mad from looking at it. This mirror showed whatever the a person wanted the most but when that person realized that the thing they were imagining was not true, they would become mad and sad and eventually crazy to the point that some people killed themselves. In The Pearl, the pearl shows Kino false hopes and dreams like Coyotito going to school and Kino owning a rifle and Kino and Juana getting married. Thus both of these text samples connect because there are 2 things (the Mirror and the pearl) which show both characters (Harry Potter and Kino) false hopes that are never going to happen in the characters’ lives but those are the things that the people want the most.
There’s a problem around the world that is pretty big and its called corruption. Corruption is the act of destroying the integrity of someone or something or in other terms, it is to infect someone’s mind while using something they want. An act of this in today’s world is bribery especially with police because if people are about to get a ticket, they would pay the police money instead of getting the ticket which could potentially harm their driving record. This relates to the pearl corrupting the minds of people in the book because the people who tried to steal the pearl were all greedy and the pearl had filled their minds with a plentiful supply of wealth. This greed eventually led Kino to kill people just to protect his pearl.
The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
The End!!!
Thanks for Watching and Listening
Your Welcome for boring you out of your wits
Full transcript