The Pearl

A look at themes of The Pearl and a short comparison between The Pearl and Where the lillies bloom.

Note to all readers: The page numbers may vary, depending on what version of the book you read!!!

The Pearl is a novel about a man named Kino, who lives in the central/ southern America Region. He resides in a small village with his brother, Juan Tomas, as a neighbor, and lives with his wife, and baby son. This book illustrates not only the themes that one would associate as being the theme of family, but also mainly illustrates a main theme of greed, survival, and hope. To illustrate each of these themes, I am going to use an example or several examples from various parts of the book, The Pearl, by John Steinbeck.

To illustrate greed, there are few, if any specific examples that can be used. Throughout the novel, if you have read or do read it, you will get the overriding sense of greed. If asked to give a specific or some specific examples, I would have to use the following:

1) Early on in the book, when Kino first goes to the doctor to seek help for his baby, many, many, people follow him hoping to get some money off him when he sells the pearls. The beggars, church deacons, merchants, and townspeople all want to get money from him.

2) Later on in the book, when Kino finds the pearl, and news of it spreads, the same people come to him for more money. The quote for when the beggars come is something like, “The beggars at the church giggled with delight and anticipation, for there is no-one more generous than a poor man suddenly rich.” (steinbeck, pg. 21-22) Also, the doctor comes, and you are led to believe that the doctor gives the baby something to make it get sick so that he can come back and charge Kino more money. Then, after he comes the second time, you are led to believe that he has someone try to steal the pearl from Kino. Then, a little before that, the priest comes saying that the house has been blessed, and pretending not to know of the pearl, and then saying that Kino should remember the generosity of “God” when making a donation to the church. (also steinbeck, pg. 21-22)

3) Finally, in the mid to end parts of the book, there is the obvious greed theme when Kino and his family have to leave their house, and village, and are chased off across a “desert” and up into a mountain by a man with two tracker dogs and a horse, who is supposedly going to kill Kino and his family, and take the pearl so that he may, and this is my view of the story, but I think that he is retrieving the pearl for the doctor who “treated” the baby when it was “sick.”

The theme of hope was most definitely an obviously underlying theme, however, to find specific examples that showed, specifically, the theme of hope. Some of these may not be cited due to the fact that I did not have the book long enough to cite all my examples. Due to this, I will due the best that I can to guess the pages. I have some examples as follows:

1) About the time that the baby gets stung, Kino starts to hope that the baby will get better without help, so that he will not have to either find money, or let the baby die because he can’t find the money. (steinbeck, pg. 3-4)

2) After Kino gets the pearl, he feels hope several times, as per the times when the book talks about him gazing into the pearl and seeing new clothes, and an education for his son, and a gun, etc… and he begins to hope that the pearl will be sellable. (steinbeck, pg 15+)

Kino and his family probably learned many lessons about life. I think that the most important lesson that Kino learned, however, was that sudden wealth inspires greed and jealousy, and it makes a man many enemies very quickly. To illustrate my point, I would like to go to the part where, in the night, after the doctor came, Kino wakes in the middle of the night and hears someone outside his house. When he goes to investigate, he is attacked by someone who, in my opinion from the way the story was written, has been hired by the doctor to kill Kino and his family, and steal the pearl.

I think that the culture of Kino’s society was a very good one, and I also think that the outcome of the book would have been different if Kino was American, for example. If Kino had lived in an American society, I believe that he would’ve, first of all, been living differently from the start, just because of the vast options that America has to offer. However, in his society, the fact that the entire village was just like a single family, probably changed the outcome because, if things had been different and the people were more split up, someone else might have tried to steal the “Pearl of the World” from Kino, and possibly, if several attempts were made, they might have succeeded. Also, his society contributes, I believe, by affecting the ways that the other, city-people thought about Kino and his family. Because the city-people figured that Kino was not smart because he lived out in a small town/village, the seriously scaled back their attempts to do anything to steal it, and in turn, seriously underestimated Kino.

I would like to compare, The Pearl, to Where the lilies Bloom. In these two books, I find it interesting that both families/characters use gathering items and attempting to sell them, as a means of getting income. In Where the lilies Bloom, Mary Call, Devola, and their siblings go into the mountains every morning, or just about every morning, so that they can gather witch haze and other herbs to sell in the town, to the drugstore. In The Pearl, Kino and his village go into the sea so that they may gather the pearls of oysters, and sell them, so that the tourists will buy them. In both, because they are not from “highly civilized” area’s, both are seriously underestimated by the “more civilized” people, and both, for that same reason, also receive less for their goods than would other people from the respective cities.

I do not think that The Pearl and Where the lilies Bloom show very many of the same themes. They both do have an underlying tone of hope. As I explained before, The Pearl presents its hope throughout the story. The same holds true for Where the lilies Bloom, however I think that I may be able to present some more specific examples:

1) When Roy Luther first gets sick, Mary Call hopes and hopes and prays to god that he will get better.

After Roy Luther dies, Mary Call “fervently hopes” that they will be able to give him a proper burial without anyone finding out.

On that same note, they all hope that no-one finds out that Roy Luther is dead so that they can all stay on their land.


I think that both main characters, Mary Call, and Kino were very similar. They both struggled for money, and both, in that attempt, felt that they were being cheated for their goods. Both characters were strong willed, and I feel that both of their strong wills were driven by desperation to help the ones they loved. Both characters also made enemies along the way, and in turn, defeated these enemies. All in all, both characters are very, very similar.

Some lessons that we can learn about our own society by reading this book are:
1) Be a little more attentive to things other than money when talking to or thinking about someone.

2) Money is probably too important to us. Although it is what our society is based around, I think that we value it more than we should, or rather, we value other things less than we should.

3)I also think that people should really stop to think about how other people think or react to something that you’re going to do, and sometimes, don’t get so desperate for something that you don’t think about how others will react and then pull them down with you in the process.

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