by John Steinbeck
The Pearl Theme of Man and the Natural World
The natural world is not to be trusted in The Pearl. The setting is composed of mirages, dream-like visions that are false representations of reality. The novel suggests that man makes what he will of the natural world; it is reflective in nature, and he sees what he wants to see. That the pearl itself is a product of the natural world is further evidence that man can corrupt what was once beautiful and pure.
Questions About Man and the Natural World
- Is the natural world an enemy or a friend to Kino?
- How does Kino’s relationship with the natural world change over the course of the novel?
Chew on This
The mirage-like quality of the natural world presented in The Pearl argues that Kino can never be sure of anything: the pearl’s value, its "evil" nature, and the motives of those around him. This is his central predicament in the novella.