The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Chinese proverb says: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”.
The proverb sounds sarcastic, but it is so true.
The novel is about poor man named Kino, who is hard working, has a loving wife Juana and a little boy Coyotito. At the beginning of the novel all the time Kino is holding his inner Pearl- his family’s song, his soul, what shows how happy and blessed he and his family are feeling, until… trouble comes…
Through the novel the inner song turns into music of pearl: “And as he filled his basket the song was in Kino, and the beat of the song was his pounding heart as it ate the oxygen from his held breath, and the melody of the song was the grey-green water and the little scuttling animals and the clouds of fish that flitted by and were gone. But in the song there was a secret little inner song, hardly perceptible, but always there, sweet and secret and clinging, almost hiding in the counter-melody, and this was the Song of the Pearl That Might Be, for every shell thrown in the basket might contain a pearl”.
Kino feels grateful for the luck what gave him the Pearl of the World, but how fast the inner music changes… Kino is just a human being, and it is hard to make a strict line, where your mind and heart have a balance and harmony.
Chinese proverb says: “May God gives you what you want”, and Kino’s dream is growing. Coyotito’s illness now is secondary, but primary becomes Kino’s dream about his son’s future.
Kino is dreaming, and it is so hard for him to be really happy now. He has struggles between what he needs and he wants. Kino’s neighbours advise to give the pearl to the pope to buy his family’s souls.
Kino has no peace, and he is searching for a better deal. Author uses the motifs of music, light and dark imagery, and values to develop the theme that good fortune, wealth, and success direct even the most innocent people to a route of evil.
Kino earlier lived in harmony with nature, but his desire has made him even nature’s enemy:
“And the evils of the night were about them. The coyotes cried and laughed in the brush, and the owls screeched and hissed over their heads. And once some large animal lumbered away, crackling the undergrowth as it went. And Kino gripped the handle of the big working knife and took a sense of protection from it.”
Kino remains obsessed with his goal, which he can achieve only by making a great deal of money from his pearl.
After finding an outstanding pearl Kino becomes cruel and violent. He abuses his wife, kills others. The Pearl of the World turned into the hazard Kino’s hands, and his greediness leads his family from happiness to devastation, and his song at the end is dreadful.
Author says: “And then Kino stood uncertainly. Something was wrong, some signal was trying to get through to his brain. Tree frogs and cicadas were silent now. And then Kino’s brain
cleared from its red concentration and he knew the sound – the keening, moaning, rising
hysterical cry from the little cave in the side of the stone mountain, the cry of death”.
The pearls are not only small, expensive balls, but also human values – the resources to be found in human souls.
A pearl is just a single word, but has so many meanings. Usually the pearl has a material expression. Measurable values, become more and more important in human understanding, and human values are often beyond the reach of materialism.
The reader learns that you must recognize your priorities, otherwise the material objects affect the practicality of which are your true priorities.
And nothing is changed in today’s society. People think they are smarter and they know more, but the values are same. Greediness is choice not need, and we must make choices every day. Irish proverb says: “Man proposes, God disposes”, like it happened with Kino. But sometimes you need to get through tough lessens, to understand all those things.
Some people need to wash themselves from evil and grind their souls like a pearls, because every precious stone becomes such a thing only after good washing and polishing.
Every person in his deepest basic can become a pearl, and every human being needs to develop and educate himself to search for the clearness of the soul.
Even a strong people who know their priorities can still become immoral with too much power. Many people in the world still get wild and mad when they have some chance of wealth or luck and they lose their heads and cause huge damage, because there is no wisdom.
People do not get ruined by wealth or poverty, but greed and bitterness.