Many regard John Steinbeck as one of the best authors to pick up the pen and rightfully so. He captured the experiences of poor Americans and was a voice for them when they were neglected. His novel The Pearl is a beautiful tale and the price of newfound wealth. Find out why you should be reading this short novella!
The Pearl: Summary
Kino, a poor pearl diving fisherman, watches as his and his wife Juana’s infant son Coyotito sleeps soundly. But a scorpion finds its way to Coyotito and stings him before Kino can kill it. The child needs medical attention but the doctor refuses to treat the child because Kino cannot pay the absurd price for the treatment.
To afford paying for Coyotito’s treatment, Kino andf Juana travel down near the sea. Kino dives for oysters in order to find pearls to sell. He ends up finding a large oyster which encompasses a giant pearl that Kino names “The Pearl of the World.”
News of Kino’s discovery travels fast around the small town of La Paz. His neighbors are jealous of his newfound wealth. The doctor treats Coyotito and is promised payment once Kino sells it. But thieves lurk around the corners and try to steal the pearl. Juana believes the pearl will destroy them but to Kino, it is his only hope to start a new life for his family.
First published in 1947, the novel took off and made Steinbeck a celebrity overnight. It is a story with a lot of messages and reminds me of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. Certain events mean much more than meets the eye and there are life lessons throughout the novel.
The novel was inspired by Mexican folk tale in a pearl-rich region in 1940. Steinbeck was able to take that story and put his own twist and share it with the world. That is why authors and books are important and necessary. Without Steinbeck’s popular novel, we would never have gotten this gem.
I remember first reading this novel in school and thinking about it for days. While it is a short novel, it leaves a big impact. So if you have had the bad luck of not coming across this novel before, then this is a great time to pick it up and give it a read!