The Pearl - John Steinbeck

Community images

The Pearl - John Steinbeck

The Pearl is Steinbeck's flawless parable about wealth and the evil it can bring. When Kino an Indian pearl-diver finds 'the Pearl of the world' he be...

> Show product information

100% positive

1 reviews from the community

Review of "The Pearl - John Steinbeck"

published 12/11/2009 | oldchem
Member since : 30/05/2009
Reviews : 410
Members who trust : 0
About me :
Pro A short little book you won't want to put down
Cons None
very helpful
Would you read it again?
How does it compare to similar books?

""This pearl has become my soul.""

The Pearl - John Steinbeck

The Pearl - John Steinbeck



‘The Pearl’ first published in 1945 is one of Steinbeck's lesser-known works.
This is a short book, or novello of just less than 100 pages, and originally appeared in the magazine Woman’s Home Companion in 1945 under the title “The Pearl of the World.”


John Steinbeck, American author and winner of the Nobel Prize in 1962, was a leading writer of novels about the working class and was a major spokesman for the victims of the Great Depression.
Born in 1902, Steinbecs most famous novel is ‘The Grapes of Wrath’(1939) which deals with the struggle of a family of Oklahoma tenant farmers forced to turn over their land to the banks, it received the Pulitzer Prize in 1940.
Another popluar work was ‘Of Mice and Men’ (1937)
He died on December 20, 1968, in New York City. (Incidentally this was my 18th birthday!!)


The story explores the destructive effect of colonial capitalism on the simple goodness of a traditional native culture.

This is the tale of a simple peasant family, living on the shores outside a town in an unspecified nation of the new world; they are very poor but very happy.

Kino, the man, is an Indian pearl diver whose skills have been past down from generation to generation.

Juana, his wife, looks after him and their new baby Coyotito. Their life is straightforward and simple, with established routines and they just about manage to get by.

When a scorpion bites Coyotito, the overweight and money-driven local doctor will not care for him without money.
Kino realises that without money he cannot care for his family as he would like.

Returning to his boat, Kino dives once more hoping for a pearl big enough to pay for the services of the medic. What he finds is actually the largest pearl anyone in his town has ever seen. Delighted at his good fortune, Kino sees his life starting anew.

By the time Kino takes his pearl to town to be sold little Coyotito has healed nicely with nothing more complicated than a little seaweed balm Juana mixed up. Nonetheless, Kino now has visions of his son learning to read, himself owning a rifle, and other things he values in light of his new wealth.

Naturally things do not go to plan.

The conflict, climax, and conclusion of the tale involves extortion, greed, betrayal, cheating and deceit on the part of his neighbours, moneylenders and traders – all seeking to rob Kino of his pearl - and when that fails, outright murder and thievery fills the scene.

This little tale starts with wonder and expectation for the future and tumbles down into despair and wretchedness because of the affluence the pearl embodies and the jealousies it awakens.
At the beginning, Kino is a humble man who is content with his life. After he finds the pearl though, he turns into a machine that flourishes on money. He will do whatever it takes to get out of poverty. Juana does not change very much throughout the book, but she definitely becomes more forgiving towards Kino.
This story has an interesting set of balances upon which it artfully rests.
On one hand, Steinbeck paints us a pretty picture of a family of village peasants with a life so full of simple charm that you envied it.

On the other hand without ever overtly saying it, he shows just how fragile such an apparently “idyllic” existence can be, since as soon as the benefits of medicine, law or sanitation are missed we see this lifestyle for what it can come to. Kino is of course instantly frustrated and angered by the treatment of the non-native physician, but Kino’s naïveté is painfully obvious to the reader from the beginning, it can only end in tears.

The book is written in the third person but gives us a look into the inner life mainly of Kino with an excellent writing style. Kino is described as always have a song in his mind and soul, reverberating to whatever he is doing at the time...the song of the family, the song of the enemy, the song of the pearl; this music of his life is emotional, instinctive, but rarely rational.

Kino was full of romantic dreams that were destined to be crushed by the realities of the status of a peasant, and we see this all play out vividly thanks to the way Steinbeck has written this poetic little book.

Steinbeck does not personally tout one way of life as being better than another, and since balanced viewpoints are a value I respect very much, this increased this book in my estimation. I thought that he pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. Even on the subject of human nature itself Steinbeck comes down in the middle ground in this book, able to say both that it is both ugly and beautiful.

Without giving it away, you might be unsurprised to learn that this book has a tragic ending. This is fairly predictable. Indeed, much of the book is fairly predictable. This predictability for me meant that I felt I was able to concentrate less on the plot and more on the poetry.
Believe me, there is plenty of beautiful poetry contained in this little book.


· Paperback: 96 pages
· Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (26 April 2001)
· Language English
· ISBN-10: 0140292934
· ISBN-13: 978-0140292930
· Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 11 x 0.8 cm

Community evaluation

This review was read 2254 times and was rated at
100% :
> How to understand evaluation of this review
very helpful

Comments on this review

  • tue-s-day published 15/11/2009
    This is an interesting review well written as it explains the plot well.
  • hiker published 13/11/2009
    Steinbeck is the master! Ashamed to say, I haven't come across this one. Lx
  • catsholiday published 12/11/2009
    Not heard of this but have read others of his - interesting.
  • Did you find this review interesting? Do you have any questions? Sign into your Ciao account to leave the author a comment. Log in

Most popular similar products

Product Information : The Pearl - John Steinbeck

Manufacturer's product description

The Pearl is Steinbeck's flawless parable about wealth and the evil it can bring. When Kino an Indian pearl-diver finds 'the Pearl of the world' he believes that his life will be magically transformed. He will marry Juana in church and their little boy Coyotito will be able to attend school. Obsessed by his dreams Kino is blind to the greed fear and even violence the pearl arouses in him and his neighbours. Written with haunting simplicty and lyrical simplicity The Pearl sets the values of the civilized world against those of the primitive and finds them tragically inadequate.

Product Details

EAN: 9780141185125

Type: Fiction

Genre: Modern Fiction

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd

Title: The Pearl

Author: John Steinbeck


Listed on Ciao since: 29/09/2008