“The Pearl” by John Steinbeck Essay
“The Pearl” by John Steinbeck
Kino, the main character in the novel “The Pearl” is an example of a common man faced with the daily concerns and dangers of living in poverty. From the start to the end of the novel Kino develops drastically. At the beginning of the novel he is shown to be a kind and loyal husband but as the story continues he becomes an ‘animal,’ a man whom is driven by greed and willing do anything for money.
When the story begins, Kino is a man perfectly content with his situation despite the lack of material possessions; he wants nothing more than to be able to support his family. After a scorpion stings Coyotito, Kino’s only child, he prays that he could find a pearl to pay for the doctor’s fees.
After many long hours of searching the sea floor, Kino finds a spectacular pearl , one that only dreams are made of. At first, Kino only wants to pay the doctor’s fees and cure his son. However, as time passes Kino begins to think of all the wonders he can have with the money he’ll get when he sells the pearl. He thinks of his son Coyotito going to school. Kino feels that his son should be educated and not illiterate like the rest of the people in the village. He feels that he has an improved status in society and so he should be treated as a rich man would be. Kino is also very eager to list the many things he wants to obtain with his new found fortune. One of the items is a rifle because it will show to the rest of the people of the village that he has power. Whilst Kino thinks of all the riches he will have, he begins to become greedy and selfish and lose touch with the more important things in life, his family.
When Kino takes the pearl to the pearl buyers, it is a great event and everybody in the village wants to know how much he is going to sell it for and what personal gain they will get from it. Kino is offered one thousand pesos for the pearl by the pearl buyers but he is furious with the offer and declines it, once again showing his greed. His reaction shows the reader that the pearl is changing Kino. The pearl is now not only for the use of saving Coyotito anymore, even though the child is feeling better. It is about personal gain. Although Kino is offered one thousand pesos for the pearl, he wants fifty thousand because he claims it is “the pearl of the world.” This further shows his greed.
Later in the novel when Juana is caught by Kino trying to destroy the pearl, Kino, the once caring husband, beats her because he believes that he can win this struggle against the pearl and the evil it brings. Juana forgives Kino because she realizes that he is losing touch with reality. She also forgives him because she is a strong level -headed woman that is not blinded by greed and is needed by Kino to help him overcome this obstacle, the pearl. Kino claims, however, that he is half-insane and half god, thus showing that he is losing the qualities that define him as a man.
When a man attacks Kino in order to steal the pearl, Kino defends himself and ends up killing the man. This is the point when Kino is totally overcome with greed and he is ready to kill for the sake of having the pearl in his possession. When Kino is getting ready to attack the trackers, he has now been transformed from a kind and loving father and husband to a beast. When Coyotito is killed by the trackers, Kino is transformed into a killing machine.
Finally, when Kino returns to La Paz with Juana, Steinbeck creates a sense that Kino and Juana have been hunted like animals. This relates to Kino’s transformation in chapter 6, from man to animal to protect himself and his family. Kino then realizes the effect the pearl has had on him. He returns with one possession that he has desperately wanted, a rifle, but he has lost his child and therefore rejects the pearl. Kino has paid a huge price and his endeavor with the pearl has made him learn an important lesson. Greed should not blind us from the important things in life such as family, health, and life itself.