A short novel by John Steinbeck
Before we begin, Answers to your questions are here
Analysis by Musungu Okach
About the Author
John Ernst Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California on February 27th, 1902. John shares the name with his Father. His mother’s name was Olive Hamilton Steinbeck. Steinbeck’s interest in writing begun from his childhood- as a child, his mother would read stories to him- a privilege that made him to be ahead of his peers in Class. At 14, Steinbeck had resolved to become a writer and he would send stories to local newspapers under a pseudonym. Similarly some of the stories would be read in class.
Although he did well to join Stanford University, Steinbeck never completed his college degree. His interest was in gathering as much information from different classes that interested him than getting a degree.
Steinbeck’s writing career took shape in 1928 when he completed his first work The Cup of Gold that would be published in 1929. To a God Unknown would be published in 1933 which will be followed by other works of fiction that truly defined him as an acclaimed author. Throughout his career, Steinbeck wrote works that invoked both negative and positive reviews from critics eg 1936 In Dubious Battle about labour organizers.
Because of his writing, some of Steinbeck’s works would be re-written into play eg Of Men and Mice(1937) and The Grapes of Wrath (1938.) The idea of writing The Pearl was conceived while Steinbeck with his long-time friend a marine biologist Ed Ricketts was on a trip in the Gulf of California where he heard the story of a boy with a giant pearl. The story would become the inspiration for this 1944 book.
Summary of the plot
Conceived on Steinbeck’s trip in the Gulf of California, the Pearl is set in a small town of La Paz. The book divides the La Paz into a modest town run by European immigrants and the outskirts, near the shoreline where the local people live. The pearl tells the story of a pearl fisherman who fortune befalls after a misfortune. The story of Kino and his dedicated wife Juana start with a misfortune when Kino’s son Coyotito is bitten with a scorpion and the only doctor refuses to treat the boy. However, fortune comes with the finding of a ‘pearl of the world’- a pearl so large and magnificent that sends a shrill in the small village and the town beyond.
On hearing the news of Kino’s find, the doctor claims a stake of the pearl by inducing sickness in Coyotito who was obviously doing well after the home remedy. The European priest also joins the queue by inquiring whether the family had had a proper wedding and whether the child had been baptized. On the other hand, the pearl buyers dream of how they will get favours from their boss when they presented the pearl while every member of La Paz dreams, including the beggars, of how the pearl will be of benefit to them.
Though Kino has plans about his pearl, the forces of evil against him are so intense that he ends up killing in order to protect the pearl and at the same time his family. Realizing the futility of fighting for the pearl; after his son is killed, Kino returns the pearl to the ocean and resumes his simple fisherman life.