The Pearl by John Seinbeck is a a story about the way that fate shapes our lives, and how human greed can turn good motives into corrupted, materialistic desires that eventually lead to destruction. The story takes place in colonial Mexico, where the well-to-do Spanish colonists oppress and manipulate the native people, whom they view as ignorant and inferior to themselves. The story centers around Kino, one of these natives, who makes a meager living doing what his people have done for centuries, pearl diving. He and his wife Juana, and thier baby Coyotito life in a small brush house in a native village outside the colony of La Paz.
At the beginning of the story Kino is in love with his family, his people, and nature, and he cares deeply for all of these things. Suddenly disaster strikes his world when his infant son Coyotito is stung by a scorpion. Kino and Juana hurry to the local doctor, who refuses to help them because he knows they have no money to pay for treatment. But fate again intervenes in Kino's life, this time for the better when he finds "the Pearl of the World" (Steinbeck 21). Its is a huge, beautiful pearl and all the people of his village gather to see it. Hearing that he has found it, the doctor comes to his house and treats Coyotito for the scorpion sting. There is rejoicing and Kino announces what he will do with the money that he gets from selling it. He and Juana will be married in a church, his family will all have new clothes, he will have a rifle, and, most importantly, Coyotito will go to school.
But the pearl soon brings fear and unease. That nigt someone comes and tries to steal the pearl. Kino fights them off but does not know who it was. The next day Kino goes to town to sell the pearl. But the merchants take advantage of his ignorance and try to get him to sell it for very little money. Outraged, Kino says he will not sell his pearl to them, instead he will go to the capital to sell it there. But Juana is afraid that the pearl brings ill fortune and coruptiion. That night she takes the pearl and tries throw it out back into the sea, but Kino catches her and beats her in rage. At the same time three men come and try to steal the pearl. Kino fights them off, killing one. Afraid that he will be punished for murder, Kino, Juana, and Coyotito flee, with men tracking them right on their heels. They run to the desert, and after hiding in various places trying to elude the trackers, they find a water source, and hide the night in a cave nearby. The trackers soon catch up to them and make camp near the cave. Kino knows that they will be discovered in the morning, and he makes one last desperate attampt to get away and save the pearl, but this ultimately leads to the destruction of what he loves most.
1. The pearl itself can be viewed in different ways. Is it a dark omen of evil or a beautiful stroke of luck corrupted by man's greed?
2.The story is full of chance events that symbolize the role that fate plays in our lives. Do you think that our lives are shaped purely by forces we can not control, or do we have a hand in controling our own lives by the way we respond to these chance events?