"The Pearl" was written by John Steinbeck, who was born in Salinas, California, in 1902.
His first three books were financial failures, and he worked at various kinds of jobs to survive, including fruit picking.
His first success was "Tortilla Flat " (1935), followed by a number of other works.
His great masterpiece was "The Grapes of Wrath", which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940.
In 1962 Steinbeck was the sixth American who won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
He died in New York City, in December 1968.
It´s a Bantam Book, published by arrangement with The Viking Press. It was first published in WOMAN´S HOME COMPANION , in Dec.1945 , under the title " The Pearl of the World ".
Type of book:
It is a classic fable, sensitively told, in a beautiful language. " The Pearl" is a book to be read many times and be remeberd forever. " The Pearl - Steinbeck at the top of his form !" - The New York Times.
It´s a story about good luck and bad luck in a poor fisherman´s life. The setting of the story is located in Mexico , near the town La Paz.
It is the story of a fisherman who found a pearl beyond price , the Pearl of the World. With the pearl, he hoped to buy peace and happiness for himself, his wife and their little son. Instead he found that peace and happiness are not to be purchased. They are, themselves, pearls beyond price.
The most important persons:
Kino: a young fisherman and pearl diver, very poor, wanted to give his wife and child new clothes, good food, a new house etc. So he had to find a big pearl, a giant pearl. He had to find it soon. He was strong and his black hair hung over his brown forehead. His eyes were warm and fierce and bright and his moustache was thin and coarse.
Juana: Kino´s young wife.She had dark eyes and she was always looking at him when he awakened. She was a patient, fragile wife- but Kino often wondered at the iron will in his fragile wife. She was obedient, respectful, cheerful and patient, she could arch her back in child pain with hardly a cry. She could stand fatigue and hunger almost better than Kino himself. In the canoe she was like a strong man.
She always took Coyotito out of his hanging box and cleaned him and hammocked him in her shawl in a loop that placed him close to her breast. She sang softly an ancient song that had only three notes though endless variety of interval.
Coyotito: their baby -son , slept in a hanging box , was stung by a scorpion one morning.
Juan Toma's: Kino´s brother
Apolonia: His fat wife. They both had four children.
The doctor: he never came to the cluster of brush houses. Why should he, when he had more than he could do to take care of the rich people who lived in the stone and plaster houses of the town. He was stout, his voice was hoarse with the fat that pressed on his throat. His eyes rested in puffy little hammocks of flesh and his mouth drooped with discontent. He had a red watered silk dressing gown that had come from Paris, a silver tray, a silver chocolate pot, etc. The furnitures in his room were heavy and dark and gloomy. He had religious pictures hanging in his house, and a photograph of his dead wife.
The fisherman Kino lived with his wife Juana and his little baby-son Coyotito in a brush hut near the Pacific coast.
One morning the baby was stung by a scorpion and it became very ill. The doctor refused to cure the baby because Kino was not able to pay. On the same day Kino found the largest pearl he had ever seen.When the doctor had heard of the pearl, he immediately rushed to Kino. Thinking that Coyotito was well again, Kino wanted to ignore the doctor. (Kino could not stand the race to which the doctor belonged to because this race had ever been exploiting his race). But at last the doctor could persuade Kino that the poison had gone inward and would strike soon. So Kino could not take his chance and he let the doctor heal the baby.In the following night someone tried to steal the pearl but Kino expelled the late guest by hurting him.
Juana often said," Let us throw the pearl back into the sea, otherwise it will destroy us." But her husband had many wishes. With the money he would get everything. He first wanted to get married in a church,Coyotito should be baptized and later he should go to school.
Soon Kino realized that he had many enemies and from time to time he could hear "the evil song" and then he was fierce and afraid.
The morning, on which Kino wanted to sell the pearl, was the morning of mornings, only comparable to the day, when the baby was born.
All people were waiting for him to start to the pearl-buyers.Kino´s brother, Juan Toma’s, declared him to be careful in selling the pearl, so that he would not get too little money for his treasure.
Kino stepped up to one of the pearl-buyers but he only offered one thousand pesos saying that his pearl was valueless, good enough to be exhibited in a museum, for the pearl was a curiosity.
Three other buyers were called, saying the same. But Kino realized that he was cheated and went home. The pearl buyers knew that they had played together too hard. Kino wanted to sell the pearl in another town.
One night Juana tried to throw it into the water, but her husband could save the pearl in the last moment.
When a dark figure attempted to steal the treasure, Kino killed the person unvoluntarily. Next day Kino´s enemies lit his brush hut. That is why he and Juana decided to leave their village; because no man in the town would trust that Kino had only killed the thief to save his own life.
For one day Kino, Juana and the baby hid themselves in the house of Juan Thoma's who told theories to the neighbours what could have happened with his brother and his family. In the dawn Kino and Juana went up to the North, to Loreto.When they took a rest, Kino saw two trackers and a dark horseman follow him. He knew that those trackers would never miss their trace. So Kino, Juana and Coyotito set off again turning their way to the granite mountains. Coming nearer,the way became steeper and steeper.Kino suggested that he would lead the trackers into the mountains, whereas Juana and the baby should hide.Later she should make for Loreto or Santa Rosalia.If he could escape, he would follow her and meet her there.
But Juana refused to do so and went on together with him.When their water knapsac k was empty, Kino looked for a fountain. Having found one, he saw the trackers again and he knew that they would reach that place till nightfall. Near the water Kino discovered little erosion caves where Juana and Coyotito hid.
"The only way to get rid of the trackers is to kill them, "Kino thought. Before the moon rose, Kino crept to the man with the rifle. He took long breaths to calm himself. (For a rolling pebble or a sigh would allert the watchers). Any sound that was not germane to the night would make them alert. When Kino was only a few metres from his enemy, he sprang. When he was in the mid-leap, the gun crashed and the pellet killed Coyotito.
In a cruel fight Kino murdered all his enemies.
When he returned to Juana, he saw Coyotito with his head shot away. He could hear the hysterical cry from the little cave , the cry of death.
When Juana and Kino reached La Paz, all people were present. Kino took the pearl in his hand, drew back his arm and flung the pearl with all his might. They saw the little splash in the distance.
When the pearl sank down to the bottom, the music of the pearl disappeared in Kino´s head.
Ideas, opinions and comments:
If this story is a parable, perhaps everyone takes his own meaning from it and reads his own life into it.
In the town of the fishermen they tell the story of the pearl, they tell of Kino,of his wife and of the baby, Coyotito. And because the story has been told so often, it has taken root in every man´s mind. It´s the story of a great pearl, how it was found and how it was lost again.
All retold tales are in people´s hearts, like this one. And there are only good and bad things and black and white things and good and evil things and there is no in-between anywhere. Being a pearl fisher in former days, was a hard and dangerous trade. Day after day, Kino went out in his boat, weighted himself around the waist with a big rock, and went down to the bottom of the sea, where the pearls were hidden. It was a trade which allowed a man only a few short years.
This book from John Steinbeck was a well written book, with not too light, and not too heavy litteratue in it. I enjoyed reading this book, and I hope that many others will read it to, and enjoy Steinbeck’s fine work like I did:)