We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Pearl

The Pearl


by John Steinbeck

The Pearl Theme of Primitivity

Don't make Kino angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

The Pearl traces the transformation of man from a civilized being to his most primitive form: a scared, protective beast. This change is brought about by the threat of danger. Animalistic instinct takes over, and morality, laws, and order go by the wayside as man (in this case, our man Kino) faces kill-or-be-killed predicaments.

Questions About Primitivity

  1. Is Kino justified in killing the trackers because of the extremity of his situation?
  2. Why does Kino seem to resort to animalistic behavior, yet Juana doesn’t? Or you could argue that she does, too.
  3. Is Kino’s transformation to a more primitive form a sign of his advancement or degeneration?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The Pearl argues that, at his core, man is simply an animal.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...