"The Pearl" by Jon Steinbeck

October 25, 2010
By musicliteraturelove PLATINUM, Clifton Park, New York
musicliteraturelove PLATINUM, Clifton Park, New York
30 articles 10 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
any Bright Eyes lyric is my favorite personal quote.

The relationship of Juana and Kino in “The Pearl”, by John Steinbeck, changes dramatically throughout the course of the novel. As the book begins you can fully understand the trust, love, and devotion felt between the couple, however in the middle of the novel this caring and loving relationship begins to dwindle under the pressure of owning the beautiful pearl found by Kino in the 2nd chapter. This exquisite pearl, promising wealth and happiness, brings only sorrow and hate to the small family. Kino and Juana’s great love for each other fades until it is gone completely and replaced with loss and pain.
At the beginning of the novel Kino and Juana had a stable and loving relationship. Their son, Coyotito, was happy and healthy and although they owned next to nothing, they were content. Steinbeck describes their morning ritual saying, “When Kino had finished, Juana came back to the fire and ate her breakfast. They had spoken once, but there is no need for speech if it is a habit, anyway.” This statement is an example of not only Juana’s respect for Kino, but also how comfortable they were with each other. Juana waited until he was finished before even going inside to eat. They cared for each other deeply. She knew what he wanted and needed without having to ask him. Steinbeck explained that when Kino woke up, “ She (Juana) was looking at him as she was always looking at him when he awakened” (p.2) This reinforces how much they trust each other and again shows how she respects him. Juana did not even get out of bed in the morning for fear of waking him. She simply waited until he was awake then got up and prepared breakfast. Kino could hear the Song of Family. Steinbeck says, “Sometimes it rose to an aching chord that caught the throat, saying this is safety, this is warmth, this is Whole.” (p.4) You can clearly picture a mental photograph of this happy little family. Although they were very poor, they were content with themselves because they were together. Unfortunately, like so many of the other works of John Steinbeck, the awful power of man’s greed ruined this pretty picture just as water changes the pages of a water logged book so that the running ink renders the words unrecognizable.
After Kino found the pearl his relationship with Juana started to change. Juana saw that the pearl was evil and tried to throw it away. She said to Kino, “This thing is evil. This pearl is a sin! It will destroy us. 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 us evil. Kino, my husband, it will destroy us.” (p.50) He would not let her throw it away. He said that with that money their son would be able to go to school and be educated. She said it was evil and it will destroy them again on page 73 after someone attacked Kino to get the pearl. Kino thought he could beat everyone because he was a man. She was not consoled. In the morning she snuck out and tried to throw it away but he found her before she could and hit her. Steinbeck tells the story like this, “Her arm was up to throw when he leaped at her and caught her arm and wretched the pearl from her. He struck her in the face…she fell among the boulders…he kicked her in the side.” (p.76) Kino was literally beating his wife so she would not toss the pearl away. He could not see, in all his manly righteousness that he was tearing down what he wanted so badly to be built up. To make sure Kino could not leave the village, the men smashed a hole in his boat. That was Kino’s breaking point. On page 80 it says, “ There was a sorrow in Kino’s rage, but this last thing had tightened him beyond breaking.” He was not playing around anymore. Kino killed a man while protecting the pearl. He ran from the men who wanted his pearl and once they caught up to him he killed them too. Before he killed the last one, the man shot Coyotito in the head and killed him. That is the moment when Kino snapped back into reality, looked up and saw what the pearl had made of him. He was a murderer, his son was dead, and he had severely damaged his relationship with his wife.

During the course of their time in contact with the pearl, Kino and Juana’s deep love, respect, and trust for each other slowly diminished until it was nothing, but hate and sorrow. In the beginning the loving couple lives happily, but then greed and discord creeps into their lives with the discovery of the pearl and causes them to loose affection for each other when their only son is shot by a pearl hunter. Finding the pearl was supposed to bring happiness, wealth, and education to Kino’s family, but in the end it only brought him grief and sorrow, leaving behind a path of destruction and the painful memory of what had been.

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