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The Pearl

The Pearl

  

by John Steinbeck

The Pearl Themes

The Pearl Themes

Greed

No gray area here: Steinbeck paints an incredibly simplistic portrait of greed in The Pearl. It is always evil, it always corrupts, and it brings nothing but suffering. All competition in this nove...

Family

Family is idealized in The Pearl—it's "warmth […], safety […], the Whole." Basically, it's all that and a bag of chips.Main character Kino protects his family above all else (even himself) an...

Wealth

In a novel where "greed" is portrayed as a Very Bad Thing, there's no way that "wealth" can be even slightly good.And it's not—much of The Pearl is about pursuing wealth and the dangers that such...

Good vs. Evil

No gray area here, guys. The Pearl as a parable, and good and evil are shown in absolute, black-and-white terms. The family is good; greed is evil. Love is good; destruction is evil. Oppressive col...

Gender

You've probably noticed the "no gray area allowed" pattern in these themes. Well, gender is no exception.There is zero ambiguity in gender roles in The Pearl. The male is the leader of the househol...

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...

Man and the Natural World

Ahh, Baja California. Sandy beaches. Azure waters. Trippy mirages that reflect a man's corrupt inner being.Wait. What?The natural world is not to be trusted in The Pearl. The setting is composed of...

Power

"I've got the power!" said no one good in The Pearl.Corrupted power features in The Pearl as the nasty reality of colonial domination and oppression. The Mexican natives of La Paz live on the outsk...

Religion

Corrupt priests. Ants dying without the mercy of divine intervention. Kino's life falling apart. Nope, religion is not something to be trusted or counted on in this novel.Religion in The Pearl is a...

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

If you've even seen the musical of Les Miserables, you know how depressing the phrase "I Dreamed A Dream" can be. But the dreams in The Pearl are every bit as grim as those found in Les Mis.The Pea...

The Supernatural

No boogeymen here. But what The Pearl's dishing out is way spookier.The Pearl argues that events are essentially arbitrary—it just comes down to luck. In the universe of this story, tragedy is ex...

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