In The Pearl, John Steinbeck tells of the struggles of a native fisherman, Kino, and his family. Kino’s son, Coyotito, is stung by a scorpion in the beginning of the story. Kino and his wife, Juana, find the pearl of the world, and they hope it will give them the money needed to cure their son. However, this event leads to a tragic journey in which Kino and his family must overcome many obstacles. The main theme of The Pearl is that greed has the ability to destroy a person’s morals. Kino, the doctor, and the pearl buyers all emphasize this theme.
Kino, the protagonist, is a determined, hard-working fishermen who supports his family in many ways. In the beginning of the story Kino is described with a happy, but simple life with his wife and baby son. He says “… this is safety, this is warmth, this is the Whole. ” (Steinbeck 3) Kino often hears the song of the family. This exemplifies the closeness that they share; he feels complete despite having so little. After finding the great pearl, Kino is consumed with greed and imagines all the good fortune it may bring to his family.
When Juana attempts to throw away the pearl, Kino is intoxicated by rage and beats his wife. “She knew there was murder in him and it was alright; she had accepted it. “(59) Juana realizes that Kino’s transformation is irreversible because he has not disposed of the pearl and does not plan to. Shortly after, Kino feels as though the pearl has robbed him of the ‘Whole” he describes in chapter one. Kino says “the Pearl has become my soul. If i give it up I shall lose my soul. ” (67) Kino is slowly and completely taken by the pearls promises and becomes obsessed with it.
At this point in the story, Kino will do anything to keep the pearl, even if it means abandoning his morals. Kino transitions through the story and becomes consumed by his hunger for wealth. The doctor, one of the antagonists in the story, is a selfish Spaniard who refuses to help the poor indians like Kino’s son. After hearing that Kino is a poor villager who has no money for the treatment, he says “I alone in the the world am supposed to work for nothing and I am tired of it. See if he has any money! ” (Steinbeck 11) It is obvious that the doctor does not care about helping those in need.
His only concern is to obtain more wealth. Later in the story Kino finds a great pearl. The doctor heard of this and thought about his life in Paris “Saw himself in the restaurant… paris. “O The doctor likes his luxurious lifestyle but he still wants more. The doctor wants the pearl and will do just about anything to get it. He hides his true motives with kind words. “It would be a shame… to sell it. ” The doctor only wants the pearl for himself and cares nothing for Kino and his family. The doctor is not alone in his malevolent plan to obtain the pearl because the townspeople also desire it immensely.
Some of the cruelest deeds in this novella come from the crooked pearl buyers. Their ache for the pearl is almost unmatched. They all plan to cheat Kino and get the pearl for the lowest price possible. “Now there was only one pearl buyer with many hands, and the men who sat in their offices and waited for Kino knew what price they would offer. “(42) Kino plans to get what his pearl is worth and nothing less. Kino’s brother reminds him that he can always travel to the capital to sell it and that the buyers are corrupt. the old ones thought it would be better if they had an agent who took the pearls to the capital and sold them… “(45)
The agents mentioned in this quote are corrupt and stole the pearls from the indians. The pearl buyers are devious and experienced in lying to the native people. The buyers try to swindle Kino by ultimately telling him the pearl has no real value. One of the buyers says to Kino “This pearl is like fools gold. It is too large. Who would buy it? ” (59) The buyers want the pearl and they know how to get it. However Kino believes he is being tricked and so he leaves them along with their cozening ways.
Throughout this story we see a drastic change from the care free, happy, and loving father to a wild, murderous criminal. This happens because Kino is filled with a desire to possess wealth and to fulfill his dreams, this desire devours him causing him to lose control. He has the power to do so, thanks to the peal. But, in the end, the pearl betrays him and he loses his only son. The Pearl portrays greed well because of how the story unfolds and how the characters responds under the circumstances. It is clear to see how the characters all disregard their morals and is an effective novella with a deep meaning.