Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Greed and Prejudice in The Pearl By John Steinbeck

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Throughout The Pearl, by John Steinbeck, the themes of greed and prejudice are greatly expressed, from the beginning with the unjust doctor to the suspenseful end of the supposed ‘Pearl of the World.’ It is amazing, that even in a timeless story as this one, these harsh realities still haunt their world. It could take place yesterday, today, or tomorrow, but the point is that one cannot revert the world to one way of thinking, that is why greed and prejudice still exist. One can try as hard as they want but there are going to be those who are stubborn, of hard will, and those who believe their thoughts are right. I want to show that these themes go far beyond this parable and apply to the world we live in.


Those who are prejudice exist around the world; there are those whom think higher of themselves, those whom think lower of others. It could be a small subconscious thought incriminating another peer at school of being a nerd because they are studious or carry other traits one would associate with this word; this, something as small as this, is prejudice. There are those who walk on the street and have to move to one side because they think street beggars are a disgrace, and some are convinced and they think lower of them. Then the homeless person looks up from his or her corner, up to a lady walking by in a fur coat, and she just walks by. “What a rich snob,” he thinks when in reality she is a hard worker whom had received this coat as a gift. The point trying to sprout here is that it is prejudice is a cycle, an ongoing cycle.


In the very beginning, the doctor saw Kino and his family as minute village people. Although he was correct in his predictions, it was wrong of him to assume the family, or anyone of the same traits, did not have money. Then this emotion was passed onto Kino as he played a game of bloody knuckles with the doctor’s front gate. Thanks to the doctor Kino could look upon anyone of the same image and think of him or her the same way. Fortunately, it’s not true; there is not one person that sets everyone’s way of thinking, there may be people who open up new ways of thinking but it doesn’t mean that everyone will accept it. Up to the point where the pearl dealers sort of ganged up on Kino and tried to cheat him on the prices, they tried to make Kino look like a fool. Even doing such a small thing shows signs of prejudice.


Among all these events, one element was entangled in the storyline and that is greed. It was greed that started the whole story, greed that charged the story with negativity and sadness. The doctor refused to provide treatment because he wanted money. Many tried to attack Kino so that they could own the beautiful Pearl. And Kino attacked back every time, which showed how much he had wanted to keep this treasure so he could have all he wanted. So lust was also entangled in Kino’s thoughts, all the thoughts derived from that malicious Pearl. The Pearl dealers wanted to acquire the Pearl for a low price, Kino refused only because he wanted more money out of it. He exclaimed at one point that he wanted fifty thousand pesos for it.


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In the end Kino learned that greed takes its toll as his son had died in his process to protect the Pearl. Kino did get rid of the Pearl trying to rid himself of all this evil. He knew he had to do it, which is definitely a good trait. John Steinbeck truly did a miraculous job of expressing his thoughts on these same themes throughout the book. Every detail describing certain behaviors or appearances of the Pearl showed the evil that lured greed into the story. Many articulate details that described the greed and prejudice of the doctor, his ‘being out’ and calling Kino a ‘little Indian.’ This parable has a setting where you could take the story and place it into any situation today, that is why it is a parable, and why it does a great job expressing the themes of greed and prejudice. Two themes that, unfortunate for some, are still alive today.





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