Study Guide

The Pearl Greed

By John Steinbeck


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 novel is unhealthy, and everyone who is motivated by self-interest rather than concern for others is bad news bears.

Questions About Greed

  1. Who is the greediest character in The Pearl?
  2. Is Kino being reasonable or greedy when he decides to travel north to get more money for the pearl?
  3. In The Pearl, does a person have to be after money to be greedy, or can the object of desire be something else?

Chew on This

Every character in The Pearl demonstrates some sort of greed; it is presented as an unavoidable, universal human characteristic.

Because Kino’s desires are for the benefit of his family, not for personal gain, he does not show any greed in The Pearl.

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