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The pearl material society material thoughts

Tom Kander January 3,1996



Ever since Midas' lust for gold, it appears to be that man has

acquired a greed and appetite for wealth. Juana, the Priest, and

the doctor have all undergone a change due to money. They are

all affected by their hunger for wealth and inturn are the base for

their own destruction, and the destruction of society. Steinbeck's

"The Pearl" is a study of man's self destruction through greed.

Juana, the faithful wife of Kino, a paltry peasant man, had

lived a spiritual life for what had seemed like as long as she

could remember. When her son Coyito fell ill from the bite of a

scorpion, she eagerly turned towards the spiritual aspects of life.

Beginning to pray for her son's endangered life. The doctor who

had resided in the upper-class section of the town, refused to

assistant the child, turning them away when they arrived at the

door. Lastly they turned to the sea to seek their fortune. When

Juana set sight on the "Pearl of The World." she felt as though

all her prayers had been answered, if she could have foreseen the

future what she would have seen would have been a mirror image of

her reality. Juana's husband was caught in a twisted realm of

mirrors, and they were all shattering one by one. In the night he

heard a "sound so soft that it might have been simply a

thought..." and quickly attacked the trespasser. This is where

the problems for Juana and her family began. The fear that had

mounted in Kino's body had taken control over his actions. Soon

even Juana who had always had faith in her husband, had doubted him

greatly. "It will destroy us all" she yelled as her attempt to

rid the family of the pearl had failed. Kino had not listened

however, and soon Juana began to lose her spiritual side and for a

long time she had forgotten her prayers that had at once meant so

much to her. She had tried to help Kino before to much trouble had

aroused, only to discover that she was not competent enough to


A hypocrathic oath is said before each medical student is

granted a Doctors degree. In the oath they swear to aid the ill,

and cure the injured. In the village of La Paz there lived a

doctor who had earned his wealth by helping those that were ill and

could afford his services. Not once in his long career would he

have dared refuse to aid a wealthy lawyer or noblemen. However

when Kino and the group of money hungry peasants arrived at his

door with a poisoned child he had refused them entry saying "Have

I nothing better to do than cure insect bites for `little Indians'?

I am a doctor, not a veterinary." for the doctor had known that

the peasants hadn't any money. He had been to Paris and had

enjoyed the splendors of the world, and therefore he wouldn't be

seen dealing with the less fortunate as he knew that the less

fortunate would surely always be just that-less fortunate. However

it seemed that he had been stereotypical of the less fortunate, as

he soon discovered when hearing of a great pearl discovered by the

peasants who had knocked upon his door earlier that day. A hunger

for wealth was what pushed him to visit the peasants house and aid

their destitute son. However he had already ended Coyito's life

without knowing he'd done so, for if he had administered aid to

Coyito when they were first at the doctors door, Kino would have no

reason to seek his fortune in the ocean, and would not be led down

the road to hardships. One might think that a doctor, one who has

the image of being passive, and caring should not stoop to such a


When one is down on their luck, chances are they will turn to

superstition in hope to acquire what it is that they would want to

achieve. A good example of this would be a good luck charm such as

a rabbit's foot. In La Paz the peasants were uneducated and

probably had never heard of a superstition. The peasants only

reliability, there only scapegoat was God. God had always been

their to aid them in there times of need. The first reaction of

Juana when seeing the scorpion is a good example of spirituality,

rather than attempt to kill the scorpion she began to pray to God

for safety.

In La Paz the only form of God that the peasants knew was that

of the Priest of the church. To the peasants the Priest was so

God-like that they were unable to see any faults in his actions.

However the reader is able to determine that the Priest is abusing

his position in society. In order to receive the sacraments the

person requesting the sacrament must "donate" a small amount of

money to the church. Whether this is correct or not is a matter of

opinion. The church definetly needs funding but the peasants are

unable to donate these funds, but, does that make them unable to

receive the sacraments should they want to acquire them? The

Priest is so set on achieving money and social status that he puts

aside the real reason one becomes a Priest- to help, and teach the

word of God.

In "The Pearl", Steinbeck expresses the fact that man's

manifestation for wealth and property leads to the self destruction

of man, both mentally, and physically. The Priest of La Paz, The

doctor, and Juana were all affected by the affects of greed.

Whether they are striving for wealth or are in the path of those

that are, they are all equally affected. The story of Midas lives

on as a caution to those who crave the warmth and comfort of money.

Beckoning to those who struggle to achieve wealth, and hoping that

they will respond, and possibly not put wealth on the top shelf of


Submitted to Mrs. Toth


Source: Essay UK -

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