To What Extent Does the Social/Cultural Context of the Pearl Influence the Life of Its Main Character, Kino?

The Pearl, by John Steinbeck, was written in 1947. Originally a movie script the book contains vivid descriptions and strong moral messages. The book is about a native Mexican during the oppression who, when he finds a life changing pearl, becomes greedy and paranoid. This ends with his only son, Coyotito, being shot and killed.

At the start of this novella Kino and his family are content with their life , they are part of an ancient tribe that were once songwriters ‘so that everything they saw or thought or did or heard became a song’. In the beginning Kino and Juana sung ‘the song of the family’ showing how happy they were just being.

When Kino finds the pearl Juana is trying not to show greed of excitement she sees these emotions in Kino’s eyes and ‘pretends to look away’. Kino tries not to be greedy but still thinks of the great riches he can acquire; ‘pictures formed of the things Kino’s mind had considered in the past and given up as impossible’. Among the list of luxuries are things that are practical and normal today such as an ‘education for Coyotito’ and ‘kneeling at the high altar…being married’

This also shows that the pearl is very much materialistic because even though Kino was content with his life he is also very determined to sell the pearl and break free from the chains of poverty. When Kino sells the pearl he travels into the town where the pearl merchants are, there are three of them however they work for the same person, and this is to give the impression of competition. This is a sign that the merchant is wealthy as he can afford to employ three workers instead of only one. Another sign of the wealth of the Spaniards is the doctor who ate luxuries and had an extravagant existence.

This story has a moral and is very much like a parable, the parable of the merchant and the pearl reflects the want to own a grand item as the merchant sells all his belongings to own one pearl. Also the parable, the rich man and Lazarus in which it...