John Steinbeck


Ever since Midas' lust for gold, it appears to be that man has
acquired a greed and appetite for wealth. Juana, the Priest, and
the doctor have all undergone a change due to money. They are 
all affected by their hunger for wealth and inturn are the base for
their own destruction, and the destruction of society. Steinbeck's
"The Pearl" is a study of man's self destruction through greed.
 Juana, the faithful wife of Kino, a paltry peasant man, had
lived a spiritual life for what had seemed like as long as she
could remember. When her son Coyito fell ill from the bite of a
scorpion, she eagerly turned towards the spiritual aspects of life.
Beginning to pray for her son's endangered life. The doctor who
had resided in the upper-class section of the town, refused to
assistant the child, turning them away when they arrived at the
door. Lastly they turned to the sea to seek their fortune. When
Juana set sight on the "Pearl of The World." she felt as though
all her prayers had been answered, if she could have foreseen the
future what she would have seen would have been a mirror image of
her reality. Juana's husband was caught in a twisted realm of
mirrors, and they were all shattering one by one. In the night he
heard a "sound so soft that it might have been simply a
thought..." and quickly attacked the trespasser. This is where
the problems for Juana and her family began. The fear that had
mounted in Kino's body had taken control over his actions. Soon
even Juana who had always had faith in her husband, had doubted him
greatly. "It will destroy us all" she yelled as her attempt to
rid the family of the pearl had failed. Kino had not listened
however, and soon Juana began to lose her spiritual side and for a
long time she had forgotten her prayers that had at once meant so
much to her. She had tried to help Kino before to much trouble had
aroused, only to discover that she was not competent enough to
 A hypocrathic oath is said before each medical student is
granted a Doctors degree. In the oath they swear to aid the ill,
and cure the injured. In the village of La Paz there lived a
doctor who had earned his wealth by helping those that were ill and
could afford his services. Not once in his long career would he
have dared refuse to aid a wealthy lawyer or noblemen. However
when Kino and the group of money hungry peasants arrived at his
door with a poisoned child he had refused them entry saying "Have
I nothing better to do than cure insect bites for `little Indians'?
I am a doctor, not a veterinary." for the doctor had known that
the peasants hadn't any money. He had been to Paris and had
enjoyed the splendors of the world, and therefore he wouldn't be
seen dealing with the less fortunate as he knew that the less
fortunate would surely always be just that-less fortunate. However
it seemed that he had been stereotypical of the less fortunate, as
he soon discovered when hearing of a great pearl discovered by the
peasants who had knocked upon his door earlier that day. A hunger
for wealth was what pushed him to visit the peasants house and aid
their destitute son. However he had already ended Coyito's life
without knowing he'd done so, for if he had administered aid to
Coyito when they were first at the doctors door, Kino would have no
reason to seek his fortune in the ocean, and would not be led down
the road to hardships. One might think that a doctor, one who has
the image of being passive, and caring should not stoop to such a
 When one is down on their luck, chances are they will turn to
superstition in hope to acquire what it is that they would want to
achieve. A good example of this would be a good luck charm such as
a rabbit's foot. In La Paz the peasants were uneducated and
probably had never heard of a superstition. The peasants only
reliability, there only scapegoat was God. God had always been
their to aid them in there times of need. The first reaction of
Juana when seeing the scorpion is a good example of spirituality,
rather than attempt to kill the scorpion she began to pray to God
for safety.
 In La Paz the only form of God that the peasants knew was that
of the Priest of the church. To the peasants the Priest was so
God-like that they were unable to see any faults in his actions. 
However the reader is able to determine that the Priest is abusing
his position in society. In order to receive the sacraments the
person requesting the sacrament must "donate" a small amount of
money to the church. Whether this is correct or not is a matter of
opinion. The church definetly needs funding but the peasants are
unable to donate these funds, but, does that make them unable to
receive the sacraments should they want to acquire them? The
Priest is so set on achieving money and social status that he puts
aside the real reason one becomes a Priest- to help, and teach the
word of God.
 In "The Pearl", Steinbeck expresses the fact that man's 
manifestation for wealth and property leads to the self destruction
of man, both mentally, and physically. The Priest of La Paz, The
doctor, and Juana were all affected by the affects of greed. 
Whether they are striving for wealth or are in the path of those
that are, they are all equally affected. The story of Midas lives
on as a caution to those who crave the warmth and comfort of money. 
Beckoning to those who struggle to achieve wealth, and hoping that
they will respond, and possibly not put wealth on the top shelf of

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