Book: The Pearl

John Steinbeck. Heard a lot about this Nobel Prize winner, his works like ‘of mice and men’, ‘east of eden’ and ‘the grapes of wrath’ are books that are commonly talked about.  I happened to chance upon a number of his books at the library and decided to start with the shortest one.

In the town they tell the story of the great pearl – how it was found and how it was lost again. They tell of Kino, the fisherman, and of his wife, Juana, and of the baby, Coyotito. And because the story has been told so often, it has taken root in every man’s mind. And, as with all retold tales that are in people’s hearts, there are only good and bad things and black and white things and good and evil things and no in-between anywhere.

“If this story is a parable, perhaps everyone takes his own meaning from it and reads his own life into it. In any case, they say in the town that…”

The prologue really sets the tone for the entire novel. It’s a moving piece of work and speaks a great deal about the human condition. I thought it was very powerfully written and it contrasted a great deal with the book I read before it, Ru. Where there was beauty in words before, now I felt the intensity of the written word and felt the sway of the music oft mentioned in the novel.

In The Pearl, Steinbeck uses the analogy of Songs to convey the motivations of the characters. It’s very unique, and the first time I’ve come across something like this. It definitely adds to the enjoyment and understanding of the novel. It builds on the atmosphere, the tension and the culture of the people. I think it was a very powerful use of imagery (or in this case music) to bring character across.

The Pearl


I really enjoyed the novel, it displays many different aspects of human psychology and the theme of how power corrupts is explored thoroughly. The characters were very believable and in particular I was very taken with Juana (Kino’s wife), I think she was amazingly written and I really felt for her and the things she went through.

At the same time The Pearl does touch on this dream for a better life, and what it means for different people. It was wonderful display of hope and what that hope drives people to do.

I’m quite impressed with Steinbeck at this point and definitely look forward to exploring more of his books (and maybe even films).

3 Responses to “Book: The Pearl”
  1. I almost liked this Steinbeck novel. Then, I got to the ending, and it ruined the whole experience for me. It almost seems to say: “Know your place and don’t try for anything better,” especially, when one remembers the priest’s homily.

  2. everworld says:

    I thought the ending was pretty apt. The destruction of hope for a better future tore down all illusions of power and brought everyone down to earth. I didn’t really see it in the ‘know your place’ kind of way, but more of where one places one’s hope.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] I just read The Pearl recently and followed it up with Of Mice and Men. What can I say about this American classic? […]

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