I first read John Steinbeck’s The Pearl in high school. I remember being upset by the book and finding it very sad. Since I enjoyed rereading The Grapes of Wrath so much this year, I decided to pick up The Pearl again. This time, though, I couldn’t enjoy it quite so much because I knew bad things happened, but I couldn’t remember what they were, so I kept waiting for them.
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The Pearl follows the story of Kino, Juana, and their baby boy, Coyotito. They are poor Indians who live in a simple brush shack, yet they are happy. That is, they are happy until their baby is bitten by a scorpion. They rush to the doctor, but he won’t see them because he doesn’t think there is any money in it for him.
Desperate, Juana prays that Kino, who is a pearl fisherman, find a valuable pearl so they can pay for Coyotito’s medical treatment. As luck would have it, that day Kino does find an enormous pearl, the likes of which have not been seen before in La Paz, where they live. However, life with the pearl is not as glamorous as Kino imagines or as rewarding as Juana hopes. Instead, the pearl brings them constant danger and even turns them against one another.
This book is another classic Steinbeck that looks at the poor and how they are treated miserably by those above them. In this book, Kino struggles against the system just as the Joads did in The Grapes of Wrath.
I greatly enjoyed Kino’s sense of intuition, which is reflected by whatever song he hears in his head. When he feels overwhelming pride or joy with his family, he hears the Song of the Family. When he senses danger, he hears the Song of Evil, and it is quiet or loud depending on the danger that is to come.
The Pearl is beautifully written and a quick read at only 90 pages. I highly recommend it for anyone in high school or above.
5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.