LITERATURE: The Pearl – Moral

Steinbeck’s The Pearl is a fable, therefore a moral of some sort is a part of the deal, and one that reflects human nature in its struggle between good and evil.

The pearl that Kino, the protagonist, finds is of awesome beauty and size.  He and his wife, Juana are extremely poor and when their baby is bitten by a scorpion, even the upperclass doctor will not come to help because he knows he will not be paid.  The pearl is found on Kino’s first dive after the child has been bitten and is doing well because Juana has managed to suck out the poison.

But the problem here is that while so far in the story it would appear that the thrust of the argument is that money (the pearl) is evil, I feel that rather it brings evil in the form of the greed and envy of the others rather than in Kino, who has good and simple plans: a replacement for a lost harpoon, a rifle, a wedding for him and Juana, new clothes, and an education for their son.

So the priest shows up, the neighbors show up, the doctor shows up and though Kino is suspicious, allows the doctor to hoodwink him into "curing" the baby from the scorpion poison.  The only one who seems to be genuinely happy for them is Kino’s brother (aside, I should be so lucky).  Despite the obvious, Kino and Juana are fearful and angry and Juana even suggests that they throw away the pearl.

I realize that these are simple folk and that this is a moralistic tale, but what about the alternative:  find better and more decent friends?

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2 Responses to LITERATURE: The Pearl – Moral

  1. Anne says:

    Combining Steinbeck with the idea/ideal of finding decent friends, i really must ask: have you tried “Travels with Charley in Search of America” yet?

  2. susan says:

    No, but it sounds like something I’d really enjoy reading–guessing from the amazon reviews anyway. The disillusionment that Steinbeck seems to feel towards the end of his journey, however, is probably not good reading for me right now. I have added it to my cart though–which overfloweth!

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