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HOW DOES STEINBECK PRESENT RACE IN THE PEARL?

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Introduction

THE PEARL HOW DOES STEINBECK PRESENT RACE IN THE PEARL? The story centres on Kino, a pearl diver, his wife Juana and their son Coyotito. Although the family live in poverty they also live peacefully. Whilst out gathering pearls one day Kino finds a huge pearl. Kino tries to sell the pearl but the pearl buyers try to cheat him. Kino is attacked and has to flee. They are being followed by trackers who want to steal the pearl. Kino kills the trackers but in the fight Coyotito is killed. Kino and Juana return to their village and throw the pearl back in to the sea. Steinbeck spent time working with immigrant Mexican workers on farms and in factories. He understood them and their concerns. Steinbeck wanted to highlight the plight and conditions of these Mexican workers. Steinbeck uses Kino and Juana as symbolic of the community in which they live. In 1940 Steinbeck made a research trip to the Gulf of California, he visited a town called La Paz. It was here that Steinbeck first heard the tale of a boy and a giant pearl. This tale was the inspiration for The Pearl. There is a strong moral theme running through the pearl that one should be content with one's life and with greed comes misfortune. Kino seeks wealth and status through the pearl; it changes him from a happy contented man in to a killer and wife beater. ...read more.

Middle

Whereas Kino and his race represent the natural, the descriptions of the doctor suggest that he represents everything that is not natural. The doctor represents a society that is materialistic. Everything including nature is owned or controlled. The gardens are not natural, they are artificially planted. An example of the doctors control of nature is the water fountain, not only are they controlling the water, it is also being wasted. The animals that Kino sees around his village are free. Significantly Kino sees "a covey of little birds chattered and flurried their wings" this Steinbeck perhaps uses as a metaphor for the villagers. In contrast when Kino reaches the town he can hear "caged birds" singing inside somewhere. These birds are owned, they are not free. Perhaps Steinbeck also intended them to be used as a metaphor for the town dwellers. The town dwellers seem themselves like caged birds. Steinbeck uses basic language to describe Kino's way of life whereas with the doctor he uses language that is more delicate and luxurious. These differences in language reflect the differences in their lifestyles. Kino's being one of poverty and hardship, eating basic food like "hot corn cake" to the doctors life of wealth and luxury, eating processed expensive food like "good bacon" and "chocolate". Steinbeck uses antithesis when describing the doctor's luxurious lifestyle when he compares "cooling" and "hot". This illustrates the controlling and wasteful nature of the doctor and the townspeople as a whole. ...read more.

Conclusion

He was at one with nature, part of nature but now he feels alienated from nature and everything else. As Steinbeck says "Kino has lost one world and has not gained another". Kino is becoming like the townspeople, he is becoming materialistic. He has to protect his possessions. When Juana takes action and tries to throw the pearl away Kino beats her. Kino steps out of the natural order and even nature is against him at the end. Kino is "happy for the wind" because it will cover their tracks but then with nature against him, the wind dies down and Kino knows that there will be footprints left behind. Steinbeck presents Kino's race as being very poor. Kino's race has been exploited by the townspeople for hundreds of years. They fear the townspeople who are educated and therefore have power. Steinbeck portrays Kino's race as basically good people. The townspeople however come across as evil. The priest, doctor and pearl buyers try to manipulate Kino with their knowledge. Steinbeck wants the reader to sympathise with Kino. This becomes harder to do after Kino found the pearl because his personality changed so much. He became ambitious and greedy much like the townspeople. Kino redeemed himself at the end of the novella when he threw the pearl back into the sea. Although it can be said by that point in the story the pearl has become an unwanted object that only causes him pain and no longer has the power to provide for a better future. 2483 words ...read more.

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