When a poor person dies of hunger, it does not happen because of fate. It happens because no one wanted to help him out. Poverty destroys the hopes and dreams of the poor, and it creates societies in which a select wealthy few control the lives and destinies of those who are not wealthy. It is this economic and social injustice that John Steinbeck depicts in the novel The Pearl, a re-telling of an old Mexican folktale. In this difficult story, the main character Kino attempts to change the predicament of his family, and when he discovers the ‘Pearl of the World” his whole life takes a turn. But society’s narcissism, avarice, and exploitation ultimately abolished any aspiration this poor family has in escaping the ultimate prison: poverty. At first, it may seem like this book is about making good life decisions, but, by examining closely at the way Kino is mistreated and discriminated, conspired against by the pearl buyers, and not allowed to look for opportunity someplace else, one can comprehend the social injustice that Kino and similar people face.
Kino was born as a poor discriminated person, and he lives in an unjust society where his bad fate leads his life with his free-will trying to catch up. But, he did not choose to live this way, so why should he have to? As the story unfolds, it can be revealed that it is the well-off people who are deciding to enclose those who are poorer in their own fate. In the book, there are many examples of the fate developed by richer people present in his life. When Coyotito, his son, was bitten by a scorpion, Kino and his wife asked for the doctor. A lazy, greedy, pompous doctor who was not interested in the well being of others, but they did not know this, and they just wanted what was best for their son. After asking that the doctor help them, the doctor demands, ‘ ?Has he any money?’ “, but he is met with an expected response, and Kino is met with disappointment (11). If only Kino had been born as a richer folk, then he would be more respected. Then, Kino found the biggest and most beautiful pearl he had ever seen, and it seemed like he was finally going to earn some esteem. But, the racist and discriminating people of the richer town still undermine him and they even try to take advantage of him. When news reaches to the doctor that Kino has an amazing pearl, he makes it his duty to go and help Coyotito, but in reality, he only came for the money.
Although Coyotito looks much better now, the doctor insists on checking him and giving him a white powder, which arises much suspicion as a trick instead of a cure (35). On his trip to Kino’s house, he also takes the time to ask, ‘ You have a pearl? A good pearl?… Do you keep it in a safe place?”, these questions portray a suspicious interest that doctor has of the Pearl (35). It also helps you infer that the doctor will attempt to steal the Pearl later, and he even goes as far as to say, ‘ ?It would be a shame to have it stolen before you sell it’ “(36). Later in the page, Steinbeck also shows how the doctor observes Kino glance at his hiding spot, presenting more evidence to back the argument that not only does the doctor look too fake his help, but he also looks to steal Kino’s only valuable possession (36). Ultimately, it did not matter what Kino did to try to change his situation, because he would be trapped inside the greed of others who benefit from exploiting him and others like him.
In an unjust society, minorities like Kino rarely get an opportunity, but even when they do they are conspired against, and in the end, they are restricted to seizing their opportunity. In the small brush house town of La Paz, people are used to being left alone in their everyday lives. This changes, when Kino, a pearl diver of this town, finds ‘The Pearl of the World”, a pearl like no other. Before this Kino had been having a bad day, especially after a scorpion bit Coyotito. But, now things had changed and he had the greatest luck of all time, or so he thought. After being attacked by a mysterious person, the Pearl is starting to seem not so great. But, Kino persists and he goes to redeem his Pearl with the Pearl buyers. Little did he know that there was only one buyer and the men he saw were just his ‘puppets”. Because of this, they conspired to trick him into selling it for a cheap, unfair price. They try to trick him by proposing, ‘ ?This pearl is like fool’s gold. It is too large. … I am sorry. You thought it was a thing of value, and it is only a curiosity.’ “, but Kino doesn’t buy into these tricks and decides to go home and think of another way (49). In the end, despite Kino getting a great opportunity, he was still conspired against, exploited, and prevented from finally seizing a great opportunity.
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