This is an essay on The Pearl by John Steinbeck. It explains how the book is like a parable and what we can learn from it.
In order to aptly analyze the meaning of The Pearl as a parable, we must first understand the meaning of the word parable. The English definition of parable is an allegorical story intended to teach a moral lesson, and it comes from the Greek word meaning to compare, or comparison. A parable is a story with metaphors that contribute to the illustration of a deeper, moral meaning. Therefore, there are two main parts to a parable: the metaphors and the meaning.
Let’s begin with the metaphors. As in many parables, the main character, Kino in this case, represents the reader. We are Kino. We may not be exactly in his position, but we can, sometimes directly and sometime loosely, relate his experiences to our lives. As the book opened, Kino was a poor pearl diver. This was not, however, his lowest point. He may have been poor, and hated by many, but he was content. He understood his position, but it didn’t trouble him, because he found his contentment in his family and friends. His situation deteriorated when his son, Coyotito, was stung by a scorpion. Then Kino was not only poor, but he was no longer content. With Coyotito’s welfare in jeopardy, Kino disregarded his own happiness so he could focus on Coyotito.
Before we go any further with Kino, let us see how this can relate to our lives. Kino responded to his low social status by accepting his position with contentment. He also made sacrifices for another’s well being. These are both good and moral ways to deal with adverse situations, and we can do the same in our own situations. We can be happy to have what we have, and we can work hard to make others happy.
In the latter part of the book, Kino is doing “better.” Coyotito recovered, so now, instead of health, the pearl gave him hope and caused others to respect him. This is ultimately where Kino’s downfall began. The pearl was originally meant for Coyotito, and then it offered him better things. There are two aspects to possessing the pearl, and Kino reacted in two ways. First, he looked forward to money, status, and respect, and tried to sell the pearl so he can realize those dreams. The second aspect of possessing the pearl is that there were many attempts to steal it from him. His reaction to this is similar to his reaction to the scorpion sting; he tries to make it better. However, in this case, he knew he could make it better by simply getting rid of the pearl, but he didn’t. He thought the pearl was part of him.
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