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The Pearl (Penguin Classics) Paperback – October 1, 1994
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From Library Journal
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
“Form is the most important thing about him. It is at its best in this work.” Commonweal
“[Steinbeck has] long trained his prose style for such a task as this: that supple unstrained, muscular power, responsive to the slightest pull of the reins.”Chicago Sunday Times
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But Kino and his family, far from being depressed or unhappy, have a great treasure, the love they have for each other and their satisfaction with life as it is, with few disturbing dreams of greater things. But their quiet, routine life is turned upside down the day that Kino finds a Great Pearl. Suddenly Kino can dream of better things: a rifle for himself, school for his son so he will be able to read and tell what is really in the books, a real house. But dreams can be deadly things. Dreams lead to desire, and desire to greed, and greed to violence.
What happens to Kino and family from this point on is not a pretty story. Now we see that underneath the quiet, idyllic seeming small town and its inhabitants lie the seeds of cheating, betrayal, collusion, fear, and murder. And we see the gradual loss of Kino's real treasures. By the end of the book, events have reached the level of real tragedy, and you, along with Kino, are liable to end up in a state of emotional exhaustion.
Steinbeck's prose for this book matches his characters and situation very well, a very minimalist sentence structure and set of speech patterns.Read more ›
"The Pearl Of Great Price" from a parable in the Gospel of Matthew, attempts to teach with the same jewel from the sea. Mr. Steinbeck was also a great reader of medieval texts, and one of these morality plays was in the form of a poem written in the 14th Century, entitled "Pearl" although the Author is unknown. These three works are separated by millennia, but their commentary on the human condition is consistent.
Mr. Steinbeck wrote this after his triumph "The Grapes Of Wrath". The work was a monumental bestseller, it brought The Pulitzer Prize to the Author, and was rapidly made into a movie that is a classic in it's own right. Superficially one could argue Mr. Steinbeck achieved all that a writer might conceivably want, fame, fortune, and critical recognition.
Unfortunately, like his work, often when you feel something good is about to happen, a positive change for his characters that have struggled, and fought to survive, he slams you face down on bedrock's reality. The acclaim for his work brought him great discomfort as well. He was labeled a socialist, a communist, an agitator, and became the focus of FBI attention, and not because they liked his book. He viewed and detested the treatment the racism toward Mexicans in Southern California, and witnessed the so-called "Zoot Suit Riots" that resulted.
"The Pearl" might be called the lottery if it was written today.Read more ›
*The Pearl* eats at you on a lot of levels. I used the word "eats" specifically because it is a book that makes you terribly uncomfortable. There is no solace in its chapters - the beginning is happy; the ending bleak.
Kino is happy with his life - he thinks about his "ordinary morning, perfect morning" as the novella opens. He has so little, yet his happiness is complete until his child is bitten by a scorpion. It is really Juana's insistence that they go to a doctor that dooms Kino. Though the doctor never SAYS to Kino "You are an animal", Kino knows why the doctor refuses to treat Coyotito, and his anger at his own impotence begins to eat him alive. On some level, he believes that money, education will make him "human" to the eyes of others.
It is the ultimate irony that the pearl, which represents money (at least on one level), transforms him into what he was so unjustly called: an animal. Kino's desire to protect his "chance" causes him to behave in ways that he never would have dreamed. He beats his wife, acting on instinct at the exclusion of emotion, and is willing to sacrifice his family for what he sees within the pearl. He kills with pleasure, and while the killings are at least partially justified, he is unsettled by his own savagery. Kino is what he never before was - Steinbeck uses the word "animal" to describe his behavior on multiple occasions as he attempts to defend his pearl. It is the ultimate regression of his character from something that is human to something that almost isn't.
So, why does this unhappy parable make us so uncomfortable? Because it goes so against what we as a society believe.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found Amazon.com's website user friendly. And the price of my purchase, the quality of the product, and the time it took my purchase to arrive were unbeatable.Published 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
Book is a little flimsy, but ok for the price. Story is Steinbeck; nuff said !!Published 17 days ago by Atra9
I started to read it in Junior High and I wanted to finish it off but I love it. Great Read!Published 21 days ago by chubby
I am a huge fan of John Steinbeck ever since east of eden. I think he can do no wrong. This book includedPublished 23 days ago by Linda
A very sad story, of good, and bad, and hope , and des illusion, and frustration, and injustice, and shattered dreams. Read morePublished 1 month ago by DLR
Long before there were salt of the earth people getting instantly rich off the lottery only to curse the windfall they had received, there was a tiny little nugget of a novel... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Andrew Barger
I probably have read over a 1000 books and this is in my top five. A prerequisite to my top five list is I had to have to read the book over ten times. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer