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John Steinbeck’s The Pearl is a tale of a poor Indian family who stumbles upon the greatest pearl in the world. Headed by a man named Kino and his supporting wife Juana, they both are determined to live a wealthy life no matter what the cost. Although the story is fictional, it is based on the unpleasant truths of life as we know it. Steinbeck reveals an array of irony like no other: Starting with Kino finding the pearl of the world, the pearl buyers not to buy the magnificent pearl, and ending with the evil that the pearl brought upon the characters.
Kino and Juana woke on a gloomy morning after a tragic accident where their baby, Coyotito, was slashed by a deadly scorpion and left to die. With hope of being able to pay for medication, Kino and Juana coasted out to sea to rummage around for their prize. Things were very uncertain on this dark and foggy day and their eyes were sure to be playing countless tricks on them.
Even though Kino was an expert at his trade, pulling an ordinary clam into his canoe and prying it open to find the furthermost perfect pearl in the world was an incredibly ironic factor especially due to the misgivings of Mother Nature. “The great pearl, perfect as the moon” (19).
Kino went on a brief voyage to sell the pearl to the local pearl buyers to achieve his dreams of a better life for him and his family.
When he got to the main part of town and met up with each pearl buyer he was shocked to hear that the pearl buyers were not as greatly awed by the pearl the same way everyone else was. At first Kino and Juana accepted what the pearl buyers said and they sadly realized the flimsiness of their dreams. Kino wanted Juana and him to “be married – in a church” (24). Kino wanted a new harpoon and rifle. Kino imagined Coyotito going to school to “read and open the books” (26). The pearl was the path to his dreams. But instead of precious possessions and wonderful opportunity coming from it, it had pernicious reactions.
The pearl brought evil over all the characters of the story. They were very wicked in the attempt to get what they wanted. The doctor is portrayed as unsympathetic and heartless. He does not care about the welfare of anyone but himself. He pretends to cure Coyotito’s scorpion bite and tries to convince Kino that maybe he should give the pearl to him for safe keeping. The pearl also overcomes the priest of the church. The priest is not concerned with representing God. He was only lusting after “repairs necessary for the church” (21). He had the nerve to go to Kino and Juana in the village to remind them of the needs of the church and to convince them to have a wedding.
Kino is not exactly a prime example of a good person himself. His greed for the pearl drove him to hit Juana and even kill a man. Kino did however learn his lesson at the end. It seems that the only person that remained pure throughout the whole novel was Juana. She never let the pearl take over her life like it did the other characters. She knew that the pearl was bringing evil to their family all along but couldn’t do anything about it. The pearl was perfect on the outside but the inside was manifested with great evil.
Kino and Juana triumphed past the uncertainties of the dark and gloomy day to find the greatest pearl ever and their dreams were crushed when they discovered that the pearl buyers weren’t going to buy the pearl from them. The perfect pearl brought evil upon Kino and Juana. As you can see, Steinbeck shows us many ironic trials and hardship that are crucial for contouring Kino and Juana into wiser individuals.
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