Study Guide

The Pearl Primitivity

By John Steinbeck


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

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

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