A plan once made and visualized becomes a reality…never to be destroyed but easily to be attacked. Thus Kino’s future was real, but, having set it up, other forces were set up to destroy it.” (Steinbeck 29). A historical fiction novella written by John Steinbeck: The Pearl, tells an intriguing story of a poor fisherman, Kino, who discovered the finest wealth: the pearl of the world. Subsequently, after finding the pearl, Kino begins to dream about all the enjoyment he will receive and how he can get an essence of life he had never envisioned of having. As the pearl is under his possession, the villagers become envious and repeatedly try to take ownership of the pearl and make his life tough. He cannot protect his family because of the dangers arising around him. Soon, Kino loses everything he had once thought of gaining, making him vacate his village trying to sell the pearl to the capitol. Kino has no other choice left but to hike through the rocky mountains hoping to be free from his enemies. He only then realizes the evil within the pearl when he loses the greatest pleasure of life, that no human can gain back: his son. The author uses irony to show when one tries to eliminate obstacles standing in the way of marvelous opportunities, they often destroy more than gain.
Kino is focused on the pearl’s opportunities that he fails to see his son, Coyotito is growing ill from a scorpion bite. Occurring to him, Kino journeys to the city, hoping that the doctor might be thoughtful and give his baby the proper treatment. Everyone in the village recognizes the doctor will only help the wealthy but, Kino has faith the doctor will be courteous and heal Coyotito. The doctor has always taken advantage of the community because of their lack of education, to make him more powerful and wealthy. Though the doctor has no intention of caring for the baby, he is curious to see if Kino has the pearl. He makes his way to the small home and brews up a remedy for the mourning baby: ‘Then he worked very deftly. He took the baby and pinched its lower lip until it opened its mouth. His fat fingers placed the capsule far back on the baby’s tongue, back of the point where he could spit it out, and then from the floor, he picked up the little pitcher of pulque and gave Coyotito a drink, and it was done.” (Steinbeck ….). Luckily for Coyotito, Juana, Kino’s wife, had sucked the poison out of him and put poultice, a plant to relieve soreness, on the wound. Kino, on the other hand, does not know if the medicine is harming the baby or helping him. From the amount of money the pearl is worth, Kino is hoping to give his son a better education, have him baptized, buy nicer clothes, own a rifle, and have a nourishing amount of food to eat.
Consequently, Kino isn’t aware that having such a valuable item makes him vulnerable to having a huge loss. Since finding the pearl of the world, Kino has grown so attached to it that he gets distant from his family as tensions increase. Though Kino pays no attention to the warnings of the pearl bringing harm, he is afraid to trust anyone because they may steal from him. When the doctor comes to his home to ‘cure” Coyotito, he uses a questionable white powder that may have poisoned the baby to make him appear to be suffering. The doctor’s acts make Kino feel frightened and someone will take the pearl away from him so, he buries the pearl in a new place. He admits to his wife, Juana, that he is afraid of everyone, and he feels as if ‘He had lost one world and gained another.” (Steinbeck….). When Kino has too much thought on a value: the pearl, the real world seems as if it has vanished. Kino’s mental barrier is trying to shield himself and his treasure from society, suggesting that he doesn’t want to be affected by anything around him. Kino believes the pearl is too valuable to be exposed to any barrier along his path. He continually tries to block out anything that threatens the pearl and his family’s safety and move farther away from his village, for him to achieve his dreams. Kino tries to hold his pearl ‘hostage” between the walls of his home in order to keep the pearl out of his enemies hands. As his enemies plan to rival his, Kino tries to hold on to the pearl as the world continues to move on.
Kino is trying to reunite to the present day and forced to learn his lesson. Starting when, Juana decides to take action for the sake of their family at the break of dawn, when she sneaks out silently, to discard the pearl. Kino senses the movement through the darkness of their house and follows her to the bay. While Juana was about to throw the pearl into the bay, Kino strikes her before she could of throw the pearl. Kino leaves, only to be attacked by a stranger, whom he kills by slashing his throat. Know a murder, Kino rushes to his house to find Coyotito and Juana. Kino is devastated when an intruder has attempted to steal the pearl from his house, which is nothing more than a pile of ash. Kino has no choice but to run away at night with his family, on a long journey through the hostile cities in the north, where he plans to sell the pearl. To make everything worse, Kino sees trackers off in the distance, who are very experienced at noticing the smallest details in the sand. Kino, Juana, and Coyotito make their way to the mountain, but, they struggle up the steep slope in the rock where they can rest for a while. Knowing the trackers will discover them soon, Kino creeps up to where the trackers are preparing to kill them. Unfortunately, Coyotito makes a small, faint, cry, and one of the the trackers hears, and thinks it’s a coyote pup. In an instant without hesitation, one of the trackers picks up their guns and fires: ‘…Kino’s brained cleared from its red concentration and he knew the sound… from the little cave in the side of the stone mountain, the cry of death.” (Steinbeck 87). Coyotito’s death is the worst form of loss that any parent could have to face. Especially for Kino, he ends up learning his lesson in the form of his son’s death. The death of Coyotito, snaps Kino back to reality, realizing the pearl had only brought evil to his family.
When people are overly attached to their wealth, their selfishness often leads them to loss of value. Steinbeck displays this to readers by a thematic idea of Kino’s actions: he clings on to the pearl, despite what his family and friends say, his refusal to sell the pearl to the dealers and gets Coyotito killed by focusing on his enemies and not the safety of his family. The events in this book are all based on the past, but, it can be related to modern-day situations. For instance, Kino wants to become rich and have many items and many individuals want to win the lottery and receive a greater income. However, the few lucky people, mostly the poor, who win don’t realize the fate that it comes along with it. They are clueless about how to handle that much money so, they end up with no money at all. Lottery winners often do the same as Kino, they dream of all the new things they could get until they find themselves bankrupt and left with less than they started with. It is only a matter of time when the person ends up with little to no money left.
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