|After the discovery of the pearl with its mysterious ‘ghostly gleam’ a struggle begins. What is the struggle about, and how does Steinbeck make it evident through his storytelling?
Julia Pihla Samuel Olivia Matilde David Camilla Danilo Virginia Dina Emma Z.
After the discovery of the pearl with its mysterious ‘ghostly gleam’ a struggle begins. What is the struggle about, and how does Steinbeck make it evident through his storytelling?
The pearl in the book has the main role, because without it there would be no story. But, the main character is not always good, just like the Pearl, which is in the middle between good and evil, hope and despair. It is good, a gleam, because it promises wealth and would make Kino’s life so much easier, but it is also evil, ghostly, because it brings dishonesty and enemies that want the pearl, making it hard for Kino to survive. It is up to him whether the Pearl will bring him good or bad, whether it will help him or destroy him. He has to control the Pearl, and realize when the Pearl is controlling him. Steinbeck underlines this too. His use of words suggests this concept and mysterious events will change the course of the book, making the Pearl a very uncertain figure, highly personified by Steinbeck.
The pearl is good. It is certainly a change in Kino’s life. It brings hope to him and his family; it is what he needs to cure Coyotito, to educate his child, to make his life so much better.
“Kino held the great Pearl, and it was warm and alive in his hand”
And he is aware of this. I think that Kino was waiting for the moment for so long, but when it actually arrived he didn’t know what to do. In fact the main problem is that he starts to want too many things but the Pearl cannot bring them all. Kino has no knowledge, because his family did not have the money to bring him up in a good school, and he doesn’t know that people can be liars, thieves, dishonest, and selfish. He thinks that his neighbors will share his joy, but it is shown later on in the book that what he believes is wrong. And this leads to the bad and evil part of the Pearl.
The pearl can be evil as well as good, because it brings to Kino’s family murderers and thieves, because it causes pearl buyers, the doctor, the priest, the shopkeepers, the beggars, to look for him and try to trick him. The Pearl also changes Kino. It makes him more suspicious and alert, and transforms him into some sort of animal. The way he moves and hears sounds, the way he kills a man without thinking, makes me think of an animal.
“Kino was already making hard skin for himself against the world”.
“Who do you fear?” “Everyone”.
This last quote refers to the scene before the attack, in which Kino gets badly wounded and stabs a man that was trying to steal the Pearl in the middle of the night. This quote shows how anxious Kino is, and he has good reasons to be so.
Steinbeck has a way of writing that is extraordinary. He consistently uses analogies, similarities and metaphors, onomatopoeias, parallels, and personification, to make the struggle more urgent and vivid. Through personification Steinbeck makes the scenes come alive. Instead of writing simply what happens he compares and tries to refer to things we remember so that as we read the story we can actually live the moment. Steinbeck also uses a lot of animal imagery. He creates an atmosphere around the character that refers to how he sees things and how he is feeling. Animals participate in the story too.
“Scraping and shrilling and croaking” are onomatopoeic words that represent Kino when he feels alone and unprotected.
“The sun was hot yellow that morning, … and vision was unsubstantial.”
In this description of the estuary we can actually imagine the scene and feel the atmosphere of that morning when Kino sets off to sell his pearl.
There are many things that can refer to the ‘ghostly gleam’ and the Pearl; right and wrong, and the division of it. The pearl makes me think of a ying-yang, that Japanese or Chinese shape that is divided into black and white colors, and in the middle of each half there is a small circle of the opposite color. I think that black and white represents good and bad, and the circles make me think of that small percent that is different, because in every evil place there is some good, and in every good place there is some evil. The ying-yang for me is like the pearl; it is round, it is perfect, it is divided into those two things that make our world what is now.
Julia A. 7T
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The struggle is between power and vulnerability. Steinbeck makes the struggle evident through his use of figurative language, such as metaphors, similes and personification.
When Kino first sees the pearl, it is described as a “ghostly gleam”. That is the first glimpse of information about the pearl, yet it is very revealing. It shows that the pearl is not only good but it has another face. It is a foreshadowing of the struggle Kino will go through. He wants to keep the pearl because of its beauty and value, and feels like it would be a crime to throw such a miracle away, no matter how much grief it causes. Kino is weak, and the pearl is powerful. Kino is taken over by it, and led by it.
When Kino goes to sell the pearl, the whole village follows him, but only Juan Tomás walks with him. Juan Tomás reminds Kino about the story of divers who had a new idea. They gave an agent all their pearls and sent him to the city to sell them, but he never returned. When Juan Tomás is finished, Kino replies: “It was a good idea, but it was against religion, and Father made that very clear. The loss of the pearl was a punishment to those who tried to leave their station.” He talks very religiously and solemnly about how no soul should leave their place. Later on, when he is cheated by the pearl-buyers, he cries in frustration: “I will go, perhaps even to the capital.” He knows he is defying God's will, but he tries to drive himself against the mountain. He is trying to make himself into a powerful man, make himself into something he's not and never will be. The pearl has turned Kino's head around. Before the pearl, he would not even think of such a thing as leaving. He does not know that by defying, he is destroying himself. He still believes in the pearl, but he is becoming a reflection of the side nobody sees. He becomes hateful, suspicious, jealous and violent. The only thing he now cares about is the great pearl. He does not even think of Coyotito anymore, now that he has said his thoughts out loud. “I will leave.”
The idea of nature participating really expresses how the pearl is affecting everybody and everything. When Kino went to sell the pearl, “the sun beat down on the streets and even tiny stones threw shadows on the ground.” We get the idea of the stones being desperate to join, throwing shadows on the ground to see further, unable to move but still part of the whole parade. The coin that the pearl-buyer is rolling between his fingers wants to participate too, winking in sight and out of sight, wanting to see the pearl and Kino, wanting to be part of the cheating of Kino going on, proud of the fact that it knows and Kino does not know.
When Kino returns from his trip to selling the pearl, his brother comes to visit him. He tells Kino: “We know we are cheated from birth to the overcharge of our coffins.” The villagers know they are being cheated all the time. They don't do anything about it, because they know they cannot defy. They are powerless against the way of life. They are afraid, too, of defying, because they know that it will only lead to loss and grief. “You have defied not only the pearl-buyers, but the whole structure, the whole way of life, and I am afraid for you”, says Juan Tomás. Boldly, Kino replies: “What do I have to fear but starvation?” Juan Tomás knows that there is so much more for Kino to fear than starvation, but he cannot turn his brother's head. He has to learn his lesson the hard way.
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All this struggle is all about the pearl and Kino’s family because everybody and everything around him is joining the action, like the city he lives near to. The doctor, priest and the pearl buyers all want the Pearl.
The pearl is so beautiful, big, gleaming and incandescent so everybody wants it, and everybody changes just because of a big ancient pearl. They all think about how they can get the pearl and sell it for lots and lots of money. This means it’s going to be a long hard life for Kino and his family. Another struggle is within the family. The love is fainting away between Juana and Kino, even the little Coyotito doesn’t get as much love as before. Kino has a hope in his heart that they will be a happy family once they have sold the pearl and have got the money.
Juana doesn’t like the pearl, so she tries to throw the pearl back into the sea and tries to be as quiet as possible. But Kino hears her go out with the pearl in her hands, and this is what happened: “Kino saw Juana arise silently from beside him. He saw her move towards the fireplace. So carefully did she work that he heard only the lightest sound when she moved the fireplace stone. And then like a shadow she glided towards the door. She paused for a moment beside the hanging box where Coyotito lay, then for a second she was black in the doorway, and then she was gone. And rage surged in Kino”. This shows that Juana doesn't like the pearl, it’s too dangerous for her. Then when Kino goes after her, “ his brain was red with anger”. This explains that there is a struggle between them and it also means that Kino almost explodes because of what she tried to do.
Steinbeck explains the story by first letting everything get involved in the action, like stones, animals and more nature. First of all Steinbeck likes to start a chapter with something scary or something important, then he goes on with the details of what happens. The struggle which is unfolding is very complex and has very many details and Steinbeck uses vivid description and imagery to make it more real. For me it’s a little hard to explain everything at any exact moment, I know what I want to say but you need every little detail to explain and make it credible.
One thing Steinbeck does is that the narrative always tells us something significant. There is only a little direct speech in “The Pearl”. Steinbeck uses a neutral narrator that displays the struggle as experienced by many different characters.
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“The essence of pearl mixed with the essence of men and a curious dark residue was precipitated.” As soon as Kino pulls the Pearl from the watery depths, a struggle begins-who will get the pearl? John Steinbeck highlights this conflict in a number of ways throughout the parable, as Kino himself struggles through the chapters.
Kino had “lost one world and had not yet gained another.” The peace and harmony at the beginning of the book had been lost forever, and he was being shunned from the other world of modern, knowledgeable and egoistic men. All those who he thought he knew, and trusted, had changed. Even he himself had changed. The Pearl brought out the worst in all people, and thus the struggle began. All strived to get something out of Kino’s find for themselves. The priest thought of all the refurbishments needed for the church, the shopkeepers of the unsold clothing that Kino and Juana might want, the beggars that a poor man become rich would be a fabulous alms giver, the buyers, of the prices they would offer and the doctor, of the money he would get for pretending to cure Coyotito.
Kino, in reaction to the entire town’s scheming, “was already making a hard skin for himself against the world.” In this quote, Kino senses the struggle happening around him, so is bracing himself for the attacks he is certain will come. He strikes out at others, and is unpredictable, his mind crazed and cozened by the Pearl. The conflict outside the brush hut is mirrored by the conflict between Kino and himself. He makes his stand with the pearl buyers and refuses to be cheated, yet other villagers “argued, perhaps it would have been better if Kino took the one thousand five hundred pesos.” Which path should he choose? Is it too late to change what has been done? With every question his mind becomes even more set that he will sell the pearl and “break free out of the pot that holds us in.”
Juana realizes the pearl is evil before Kino does, and a struggle forms between them as Juana argues that they should “break it between stones”, while Kino is adamant that he will have his good fortune. Juana has an inkling about what will happen in the future, yet she will not defy Kino for she takes that part of her culture for granted, that a woman may not go against her husband.
John Steinbeck makes evident this struggle in a plethora of ways. He uses figurative language such as similes and metaphors to draw analogies between two things. For example an analogy is drawn between life in the sea and Kino’s present situation defining survival of the fittest. “Out in the estuary a tight-woven school of small fishes… escape a school of great fishes that drove in to eat them… as the slaughter went on.” He also uses suspense to enthrall the reader and in fact the entire set up of the story is suspenseful, as this extremely poor fisherman suddenly has a massive stroke of luck, which leaves readers wondering what will happen next.
Animal Imagery is also a technique employed by Steinbeck. All the instinctive movements that Kino and his family exercise are described by simile. One is where Juana froze in terror at the sound of Kino being attacked, and “her lips drew back like a cat’s lips.” Another example of this literary technique is when the poison of the scorpion enters Coyotito’s body, and Juana learns the doctor would not come. “…her eyes (became) as cold as the eyes of a lioness.”
Steinbeck also employs Nature Personification to make the struggle evident. He begins the book with the “little splash of morning waves on the beach.” And “The dawn came quickly now, a wash, a glow…”, to describe the peace and serenity of Kino’s world, prior to the discovery of the Pearl. However as the story continues, the images begin to grow more sinister. “He felt alone and unprotected, and the scraping crickets and shrilling tree frogs and croaking tree frogs seemed to be carrying the melody of evil.” Steinbeck uses this sentence to convey that all nature is participating and that evil is crouched, waiting to pounce upon Kino’s family. Even the pearl, once “…perfect as the moon”, is now seen as “Grey and ulcerous.” However, it is not really the Pearl that has become grey and ulcerous, for it only reflects man’s greatest desires. It is Kino who sees it that way, finally realizing it to be sinister.
There are many conflicts, both internal and external throughout this novel all of which Steinbeck makes evident through his storytelling. In all, this book is a fascinating read, for though we are of a different culture and do not dive for pearls for a living, we can understand and empathize with the conflicts that are woven through this parable.
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There is a struggle in the pearl. The struggle is about the good and evil sides of the pearl. The pearl brings out good, and desire and happiness in Kino, but brings out bad, greed, and jealousy in other people. Steinbeck makes this evident through his figurative language. He uses many, many comparisons to do this.
This struggle is mostly expressed in Kino. There is an “indoor” struggle inside Kino. Since he has the pearl, he is in danger. Ever since Kino found the pearl, he has not been treated the same. He feels betrayed by the people he thought he could always trust. Suddenly now, he can’t trust anybody. Juana realizes this and tells Kino to throw the pearl away, that it is evil. Kino feels confused and his emotions are in conflict. But Kino refuses to take heed because whenever he holds the pearl, it feels ‘warm and alive’ in his hand. He has dreams about where this pearl can take him. He wants new clothes and for Coyotito to go to school. He feels that the pearl gives him a certain power and determination. But instead, the pearl is taking him the wrong way, towards all the people who are willing to hurt Kino to get it.
Steinbeck makes this struggle evident through his figurative language. He uses similes so people can relate. “ This pearl is like a sin!” He uses alliteration to make the struggle more interesting. The Pearl is first described as a ‘ghostly gleam’. His relationship to animals also makes us able to understand his point better. He uses the songs, to tell about Kino’s feelings. The Song of the Family is a symbol of harmony and serenity in Kino. The song of the Pearl That Might Be is a symbol of hope. The Song of Evil is when Kino feels danger around him. Steinbeck creates tension with the Song of Evil, as it’s slowly making its way across Kino’s dream. Personification plays an important part in the tension. “The whisper of a foot on dry earth, the inaudible purr of controlled breathing,” warning Kino that someone is in the hut. When Kino goes to sell the pearl excitement is created with, “The houses belched people and the doors spewed out children. And even tiny stones threw shadows on the ground.” When Steinbeck describes the winking coin at the pearlbuyer, he suggests the plan to manipulate Kino by appearing and disappearing, and when the pearl arrives, the coin drops and disappears, saying “plan done.”
There are many people who want the pearl, but there are two main people that Steinbeck focuses on. One is the doctor. The doctor wants the pearl because he dreams of going to Paris. He plans to get the pearl. “But the trap was set.” He takes advantage of Kino’s ignorance. This is Kino’s weakness. Since Kino does not know whether or not the doctor is lying, he cannot take the risk. But the doctor knows that there is really nothing wrong with Coyotito, and to prove his point and get paid, he gives something that will make the baby sick later. When Kino does not give up the pearl, the doctor sends somebody to steal it. And then again Kino hears the evil music.
Another person who wants the pearl is the pearlbuyer. The pearlbuyer obviously wants the pearl so he can sell it at a high price. He, like the doctor, also takes advantage of Kino’s ignorance. Kino does not know how much a pearl should cost. The pearl buyer tricks Kino by telling him the pearl is worthless. The pearl buyer obviously wants the pearl, but he is trying to get it at the lowest price possible.
From the beginning, when Kino bangs his fist on the iron gate, he doesn’t break it, it breaks him. Juana understood that a man can’t go against nature, and no matter how hard Kino tries, he will always suffer the consequences. “Juana in her woman’s soul, knew that the mountain would stand while the man broke himself; that the sea would surge while the man drowned in it.”
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Steinbeck introduces the pearl to the story by telling the reader that it has a ghostly gleam: “The shell was partly opened for the overhang protected this ancient oyster and in the lip-like muscle Kino saw a ghostly gleam and then the shell closed down”.
Now that Kino possesses the pearl he is sure he will become rich and, in my opinion, he will. It was a never-before seen pearl: “...there it lay, the great pearl, perfect as the moon. It captured the light and refined it and gave it back in silver incandescence. It was as large as a seagull’s egg. It was the greatest pearl in the world”. After finding the pearl, Kino’s friends become aggressive toward him - they want to take it from him for their own gain. His relatives and friends are ganging up against him, each trying to take the pearl away, to enjoy the illusion of a better future, like Kino was experiencing. Kino is struggling against the entire village of La Paz. When Juana, his supportive wife, asks Kino who he feared, he replied, “everyone”, and “he could feel a shell of hardness drawing over him”. Even the rich, like the doctor, were interested in taking the pearl away from him. Kino realized that most of the people he knew and loved had become his enemies and so he lost faith and trust in all of them. He felt isolated, as if he and his family were an island, as shown by the drawing on the cover of the book.
Juana tells Kino to throw the pearl back into the water so they can all go about their normal lives, assuming this would be possible after such an experience. At one point Juana tries to get rid of the pearl herself, but Kino stops her: “Her arm was up to throw when he leaped at her and caught her arm and wrenched the pearl from her”. Kino wants to keep the pearl because he sees it as an opportunity to become wealthy, to have a better life, to allow Coyotito, his young son, to get an education. “My son will read and open the books and my son will write and will know writing. My son will make numbers and these things will make us free because he will know, and through him we will know”. But the pearl deceives and it spreads evil throughout the village. The songs of evil come and go as Kino looks at the pearl. It brings him joy and harm at the same time, but Kino continues to be undecided as to whether the pearl has brought him good or evil.
The pearl represents almost everything in Kino’s life. He doesn’t have much of a life apart from Juana and Coyotito, so by keeping the pearl he feels he can give his family, and especially Coyotito, the promise of a wealthy life. Kino dreamt of the new life that the pearl would bring him and his family. Kino understood the value of education: “Kino’s brain burned, even during his sleep, and he dreamed that Coyotito could read, that one of his own people could tell him the truth of things...”. From this passage Steinbeck makes it clear that during his entire life Kino had been taught about life by others, strangers, always better educated than he and his people, but never by someone who he trusted completely. Coyotito would be that person, and he wished that for himself, as well as for his son.
Kino struggles to keep both the pearl and his dreams safe, but in reality the pearl causes only chaos for him and his family. The pearl brings songs of evil into his head: “In his mind a new song had come, the song of evil, the music of the enemy, of any foe of the family, a savage, secret, dangerous melody, and, underneath, the song of the family cried plaintively”. The pearl had become Kino’s nightmare, yet, he wanted to keep it and this becomes his private struggle.
Steinbeck makes this internal, personal struggle evident through his storytelling by using figurative language and descriptions. He uses metaphors and alliterations to describe the struggle throughout the story, for example: “and then without warning, he struck the gate”, “he hissed at her like a snake”. The author also uses figurative language to describe animals and their actions and applies these metaphors to humans, for example “Predator” and “Prey”. Through this symbolism Steinbeck is referring to Kino as Prey and those around him as Predators. Kino is like a fly being eaten by a lizard, “like a sheep before the butcher”. All of this serves to emphasize and symbolize Kino’s struggle over keeping or giving up the pearl. The fact that Kino is severely struggling within himself is made clear from quotes such as: “And then his head crashed with lightning, and exploded with pain”.
The “ghostly gleam” that the pearl gave when Kino found it was really a foreshadowing that it would bring him both joy and sorrow. In my opinion, the term “gleam’ was carefully chosen by Steinbeck to represent joy and hope for a better future without difficulties, while his use of the word “ghostly” was chosen to indicate that there would be a dark side to this story that at first seems so simple.
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Before the finding of the pearl Kino was a happy man, poor but with a family he loved and with friends he trusted. When fortune knocked on his door, though, there was a sudden change and problems occurred. He was haunted day and night by people who wanted the pearl for themselves, surrounded by those who wanted to trick him.
This immense richness was desired by many, all who had their own personal dreams. The doctor wished to go to Paris. He “saw himself sitting in a restaurant in Paris and a waiter was just opening a bottle of wine”. The beggars hoped to receive a bit more money now that Kino was rich, “they knew that there is no alms-giver in the world like a poor man who is suddenly lucky”. The priest dreamt of fixing the church, the shopkeepers dreamt of selling all the leftovers from the years before. The pearl buyers wanted to have the pearl for as little money as possible. “They waited in their chairs until the pearls came in, and then they cackled and fought and shouted and threatened until they reached the lowest price the fisherman would stand”.
When first found the pearl is described as a “ghostly gleam”. This explains the essence of what it will bring. In fact, this phrase foreshadows the good and evil things he will go through, there is hope but even other sinister things. It also introduces us to the struggles he’ll undergo. The struggle with himself, “We will get married – in the church… We will have new clothes… A rifle.” and he saw Coyotito going to school. But then he heard the evil music. He saw the danger it would bring, the jealousy and greed. He struggles with Juana, who tells him to throw it away but he insists and argues that he is “a man”. The struggle is between Kino and the people who desire the pearl.
In his story telling, Steinbeck makes the struggle evident in different ways. The first one is by the songs. The Song of the Family and the Song of Evil mix making this struggle stronger. And many times the Evil wins over the Family. Another way is by analogies. “Small fishes glittered and broke water to escape a school of great fishes… The night mice crept about on the ground and the little night hawks hunted them silently.” Nature is involved, giving a sense of participation. “Tiny stones threw shadows on the ground…”, “shrilling tree frogs” and “croaking toads”. Steinbeck also uses personification. If the pearl wasn’t personified, the story would be quite trivial, simple. The pearl captures Kino’s brain. He is enchanted and doesn’t even look at the negative things. It is seductive, because if you put money in front of someone, no matter who, it will stick to them, making them attempt the impossible.
The pearl is an uncertainty. A mistake. And I believe this is the main reason why Kino is so attached to it, because he feels that God gave him this luck and that he didn’t have to waste it. Even if he understands that it might bring danger, he thinks ahead, he thinks of how his life could change. The biggest struggle for Kino is the one with himself.
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This question has two parts. One part asks what are the many struggles that the pearl brings. Most of the struggles in the book are caused by the two different kinds of people or of their economic class, such as rich and poor. The other part of the question asks how Steinbeck makes the struggles evident or appear in his story telling. Steinbeck makes some of his struggles evident by the use of analogies, like when the “small fishes broke water to escape a school of greater fishes”. Everybody wants the pearl.
Kino has many struggles not only with himself but with others, for example with the pearl buyer who “poked and insulted the pearl” just like did with Kino by insulting and teasing him. This is a struggle with Kino who has the pearl and the buyer who wants the pearl, of something that someone has that everybody wants. Kino struggles with the doctor who slams the door in his face bringing “the public shaming of Kino” and his family. The doctor poisons Coyotito to know where the pearl is and a struggle begins between rich and poor. This is a struggle between two different people, which is driven by the doctor’s greed. Kino has struggles he doesn’t know about with the shopkeepers and the beggars who all think of how the pearl might favor themselves. He has a struggle with the priest who wants some church repairs and pushes Kino to get married. Nobody cares for Kino; they care only for his pearl.
Struggles not only occur between Kino and other people but even within Kino’s family. Juana and Kino have struggle about whether to keep the pearl or not. Kino refuses to throw this opportunity away and remains determined to “fight this thing and win over it.” Juana still not sure of the pearl, begins a huge struggle between selfishness and family. But Kino also struggles with himself, because “this pearl has become (his) soul.” Kino struggles within himself whether to keep the pearl or not. He doesn’t know what to do and is “only half conscious”. He is surrounded by evil so as his only option Kino becomes aggressive, “tight and hard”.
Steinbeck’s story telling highlights this struggle in many different ways. The main way is through the Songs that are a foreshadowing of what may happen in the future. The Song of Evil transmits the thought of something bad, the Song of the Family transmits peace and pleasure, while the Song of the Maybe Pearl transmits the feeling of future fortune, of hope and happiness. But hidden between the notes of this song is a tiny, small tune of Evil. Visual images are a significant part of Steinbeck’s writing. For example when Steinbeck writes, “the houses belched people; the doorways spewed out children”, we really have an image of houses ‘spewing’ children. Nature is the most important and perhaps the biggest part of Steinbeck’s writing. Man and nature are intertwined in a huge vein called life.
I have learned many things from this essay. The main one was that the pearl changed Kino completely. At the beginning Kino was a calm man who woke in the near dark and had a simple life. He had nothing in comparison to the rich people, but now he is vicious, “half insane and half god”.
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In ‘The Pearl’, after Kino finds the mysterious pearl, a struggle begins because everyone wants the pearl. This pearl has a positive and a negative side, which is made evident throughout the book, with songs, analogies, personifications, imagery and through the vivid presence of nature.
The pearl found by Kino, has two faces; a positive face, which will make Kino and his family rich, with a better life and more power, and a negative side, which will destroy Kino’s life, crumbling it from the inside. The main struggle that Kino undergoes, is that everyone wants the pearl, and will do anything to get it. Everyone changes around him, making him change too and so Kino begins to feel alone and suspicious. “Every man suddenly became related to Kino’s pearl, and Kino’s pearl went into dreams, the speculations, the schemes, the plans, the futures, the wishes, the needs, the lust, the hungers, of everyone, and only one person stood in the way and that was Kino, so that he became curiously every man’s enemy”. All the neighbors suddenly become jealous of Kino and want the pearl for themselves and they wondered “how such luck could come to any man.” All the neighbors want to be involved and so they follow Kino when he sells his pearl. The selling of the pearl had become the most important part of Kino’s life, and the day he visits the pearl buyers, “the houses belched people and the doorways spewed out children”.
Kino’s pearl is worth many pesos, and could change anyone’s life. The news of the pearl, brought by the neighbors, spreads rapidly, also in the town, attracting the beggars, the priest, the doctor and the pearl buyers. Everyone becomes false and even “tiny stones threw shadows on the ground.” The doctor and the priest regret how they treated the family and start changing, too. This is a suggestion, that Kino’s world is not the same, and it will never be. The pearl buyers however are clever and they want to trick Kino, playing a game, for which he doesn’t know the cards. He begins to realize then, that he doesn’t belong to that world, and that he has only lost the beauty and peacefulness of his life, because of that pearl. “He had lost one world and had not gained another.”
In ‘The Pearl’ there is a consistent use of figurative language, which helps us imagine the struggles and the difficulties of Kino. John Steinbeck uses songs, analogies, personifications, images and the presence of nature, to make vivid the struggle that Kino undergoes after the discovery of the pearl. Steinbeck uses nature to suggest the mood and the atmosphere, for example: “the sun was hot yellow that morning and it drew the moisture from the estuary.” He also uses many analogies and uses songs, which are Kino’s emotions, to represent the evil of the pearl and of the pearl buyers. “He felt the evil coagulating inside him, and he was helpless to protect himself.” Personification plays a major role in conveying the conflicts in this story. “The coin winked into sight” or “the dealers hand tossed the great pearl back in the tray. The forefinger poked and insulted it.” This story is told with onomatopoeias, similes, metaphors and alliterations that enrich the parable. Steinbeck often uses metaphors to compare the characters’ actions with animals for example: “The pearl buyer’s eyes had become as steady and cruel and un-winking as a hawk’s eyes”, or “her lips drew back from her teeth like a cat’s lips.” Alliterations also draw attention to words and phrases to highlight the drama and make the story more intriguing and interesting: The pearl buyer “made (the coin) appear and disappear, made it spin and sparkle”, and Kino “could sense the wary, watchful evil.”
All that happens after the discovery of the pearl, makes Kino change, because everyone around him is false and they only want to trick Kino. This essay made me reflect and see how Kino’s world changes, not only because he can’t trust anyone, but also because he doesn’t want to trust anyone. Juana wants to help, but he refuses her help and builds up a shell around himself, that he doesn’t want to break. He doesn’t listen, but he is very instinctive, and will not throw the pearl away, only because he is stubborn. This essay made me also reflect on his words, ‘I am a man’, because even when he feels and ‘hears’ the evil inside him, he doesn’t want to abandon his chance of living a rich life.
Virginia D. 7F
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In this story, “The Pearl”, there are a lot of conflicts and many conflicts are caused by the Pearl and people’s greed. During these conflicts Steinbeck makes it evident that something bad is or has happened by involving nature and by using figurative language such as, personification, onomatopoeia and alliteration. The most important conflicts are the ones between Juana and Kino and those involving the many people who desire the pearl. There is also the inner conflict, which the pearl creates in Kino.
Juana knows that the pearl is evil but Kino defies her. Kino thinks and wishes that the pearl will bring good fortune to his family and give them the chance they have never had before. But since Kino found the pearl only bad luck has arrived. Juana is against him keeping the pearl but he always hushes her up. “ ‘Kino, this pearl is evil. Let us destroy it before it destroys us. Let us crush it between two stones. Let us throw it back in the sea where it belongs. Kino, it is evil, it is evil!’ And as she spoke light came back to Kino’s eyes so that they glowed fiercely and his muscles hardened and his will hardened. ‘No’ ”. This is one of Juana’s many attempts of telling Kino of the dangers to which he is exposing the family.
The pearl is obviously at the center of attention. All the people want it. But how will they get it? If they can’t buy it, then that means they will get it by force. Up to the end of chapter four there have been two attempts to get the pearl by force and in both of the attacks, Kino had been harmed. “He felt cloth, struck at it with his knife and missed, and struck again and felt his knife go through cloth, and then his head crashed and exploded with pain.” This marks the day when most of the people in the village start to hope that bad things will not occur to them. “Blood oozed down from his scalp and there was a long deep cut in his cheek from ear to chin, a deep, bleeding slash.” This was the second scene of violence, where Kino was left half conscious on the ground by the attacker.
It seems as if the pearl is perfect, a divine creation. The pearl is showing Kino things he wants: getting married in Church, Coyotito going to school and even a rifle for himself. The pearl is seducing him. “In the pearl he saw how they were dressed – Juana in a shawl stiff with newness and a new skin and from under the long skirt Kino could see that she wore shoes. It was all in the pearl – the picture glowing there.” Kino is being mesmerized by the promise of many desires becoming reality: new clothes, school for Coyotito, shoes, a new harpoon and much more. He also sees himself with a rifle and in the story it is described as “the wildest day dreaming”. During the period in which the pearl was found, Kino didn’t seem to notice the evil around him. He could only hear the Song of the Pearl.
During these conflicts, the ones listed and the ones not listed, nature was always involved. When Kino was going to sell his pearl, “even tiny stones threw shadows on the ground”. Everyone and everything participated in Kino’s story. During the second attack, Kino could hear “the hiss of distance and the love agony of cats”. Nature, for Steinbeck, is an essential part of this story. Steinbeck also used figurative language such as metaphors to personify cities, objects and many other things to make them seem scary. He used alliteration for the same purpose and to make the imagery more vivid. Onomatopoeia was used to enhance movements and sounds. Steinbeck makes the conflict and drama evident through the consistent participation of nature, by personification, alliteration, onomatopoeia and by the songs which reflect Kino’s conflicting feelings of hope and despair.
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There are different types of struggles after the discovery of the pearl, all of which are caused by the pearl itself. The struggles threaten to kill, harm, and endanger the lives of various people, and also change the way people around Kino and Kino himself see things. Steinbeck manages to show this to the reader in a very effective way, using different figures of speech and descriptive writing. The struggles in this story are very important to understand the meaning of the story and the connection between Kino, Juana, the pearl and the people surrounding them.
One of the most important struggles that we find in the story is the struggle
between Kino and his people; the people in his village, his family, and the people in the town. When Kino finds the pearl, everyone seems to be related or interested in Kino. The Doctor, who had been asked to cure Coyotito’s scorpion bite, is thinking of riches and of Paris, its wine and its chocolate. Since Juana and Kino agreed to get married in the Church, the Priest is thinking about repairing its roof. The Beggars are thinking that they might get even a little share of the profit from the sale of the pearl, being poorer than Kino. Shopkeepers are thinking of getting rid of the unsold clothes from the year before. But most importantly, the pearl buyers are thinking of getting the pearl for as little money as possible, ‘ripping Kino off’, only because he’s a poor fisherman. Because of the pearl, Kino has made lots of enemies. This may be caused by greed, jealousy, or just pure malice. “The essence of pearl mixed with essence of men and a curious dark residue was precipitated.” This metaphor indicates how the beauty and value of the pearl, and the selfishness and greed of men, creates hostility and how everyone becomes enemies with Kino, only because he has the pearl. “Who do you fear?” “Everyone.” Kino is afraid of everyone: he is afraid that people will attack him or that people will try to steal the pearl. Kino is scared now, and this leads to the second most important struggle.
What Kino feels inside himself is very important, as he is torn apart by the music of the pearl on one side and the song of evil on the other. Kino is a changed man, for the pearl has distorted his way of thinking. “A foolish madness came over him, so that he spoke foolish words.” It is mostly the power of the pearl and what Kino knows he can do with the pearl that is changing him. The neighbours in the village realize this and they try to warn him, but Kino is enchanted by the pearl, the ‘winking and glimmering’ of the pearl ‘cozening’ his brain with its beauty. Since everyone, or nearly everyone has become his enemy, Kino feels insecure. He is waiting for something bad to happen, for he knows it is bound to. He is wary, alert, and things that had been normal beforehand now seem unknown and sinister. He is ‘warned’ by the evil music that rings in his ears; the shrilling song of the enemy, which is being fought by the beautiful music of the pearl. He is so entranced and in love with the pearl, that he doesn’t realize how bad his situation could become.
Outside his hut Kino feels alone and unprotected and it is cold and lonely. “He smelled the breeze and he listened for any foreign sound of secrecy or creeping, and his eyes searched the darkness, for the music of evil was sounding in his head and he was fierce and afraid.” Though he feels danger lurking in the village, he is firm on the choices he has made and does not, and will not give them up, even if he has to risk his safety and even his life. He wants Coyotito to go to school; he wants his family to have new clothes; he wants to get married in the church and he also wants a rifle. Now that he has the pearl he thinks he’s at the top of the world and that he can have anything as well as do anything. He knows something tragic will eventually happen, but he takes the risk. That is why the neighbours hope Kino’s head isn’t clogged up thinking of money. “All of the neighbours hoped that sudden wealth would not turn Kino’s head, would not make a rich man of him, would not graft on to him the evil limbs of greed and hatred and coldness.” Some people think it would be better for Kino to get rid of the pearl once and for all, especially one in particular...
The third struggle Kino has to deal with is with Juana. She is very glad and pleased when they first find the pearl for it means her little baby can be
Cured. But after the first attack on Kino she becomes wary and afraid of the pearl’s power and immediately tries to persuade Kino to throw it away. “This thing is evil!” she cried harshly. “This pearl is like a sin! It will destroy us,” and her voice rose shrilly. “Throw it away Kino. Let us break it between stones. Let us bury it and forget the place. Let us throw it back into the sea. It has brought evil. Kino, my husband, it will destroy us.” Juana knows what will happen. She knows it will not do any good if Kino only thinks of riches. She knows the changes that could affect Kino: it could make him selfish and he might get attached to it and then want more money and become a greedy and cold man, a different Kino, a Kino no one would like. After the second attack, she doesn’t hesitate to warn him. “Kino, it is evil, it is evil!” But Kino is firm and has made up his mind. All he says is that he is ‘a man’, and being a man, he can fight the pearl, its evilness, its power and its beauty.
One of the main characteristics of Steinbeck’s writing is his use of nature in comparisons, similes and descriptions. Figures of speech are very important in his writing. His use of personification, similes, metaphors, alliteration and onomatopaea makes the story and what is happening in it much more exciting and meaningful. Steinbeck uses nature in an analogy describing small fish catching big fish, likening this to the doctor who is trying to trap Kino. The small fish is the prey and the big fish is the predator in the same way as Kino is the prey and the doctor is the predator. “Out in the estuary a tight-woven school of small fishes glittered and broke water to escape a school of great fishes that drove in to eat them.” Personification is used often and one example that I found striking is, “The sun was hot yellow that morning, and it drew the moisture from the estuary and from the Gulf and hung it in shimmering scarves in the air so that the air vibrated and vision was unsubstantial.” All this is just another way of saying it was hazy and hot. This imagery allows the reader to imagine the setting.
Another example of imagery which I found effective is when Kino is going to sell the pearl. “And the sun beat down on the streets of the city and even tiny stones threw shadows on the ground.” The stones are personified and it seems like even they want to find out what happens. Steinbeck makes nature a participant in Kino’s struggle. Perhaps most important connection between nature and Kino’s feelings is when Kino feels scared and afraid in the dark. “He had broken through the horizons into a cold and lonely outside. He felt alone and unprotected, and scraping crickets and shrilling tree frogs and croaking toads seemed to be carrying the melody of evil.” The animals’ sounds, which are perfectly usual, now sound like the music of evil and highlight Kino’s fearful feelings.
The elements of nature participating in Kino’s drama and the personification of normal things, enhance the meaning of the story and increase suspense and exhilaration. Conflict and struggle play an important role in this story and give the events added significance as well as making the drama more engaging. It is a good combination, which keeps the reader interested: nature and figures of speech, a pinch of analogy, and a beautiful story.
Emma Z. 7DT
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