Materialism In The Pearl

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Kino was once a simple man who lived a simple life, content with his home and family. He realizes he can obtain much more which uncovers his true greed, and selfishness. In John Steinbeck’s novella The Pearl, Steinbeck emphasizes how materialism corrupts and destroys through the values and intentions other characters have regarding the pearl, the harm caused to Kino’s family, and the death of Kino’s own son. Kino was once someone content with his simple and indigent life, yet his values, characteristics, and the way he behaves totally changes with his discovery of the pearl and the fortune it can bring into his life. Once he finds it, Kino sees his future in the pearl, “We will be getting married - in the church… We will have new clothes… …show more content…
Everyone in the village knows Kino as a genuine and good person who loves and would do anything for his family. They later realize how dangerous the pearl can be for Kino and his family because they see the lengths he is willing to go to keep the pearl. The fear the villagers have foreshadows how badly the pearl does corrupt Kino and leads to his and his family’s downfall. When Kino says, “This pearl has become my soul. If I give it up I shall lose my soul” (67), the audience perceives the pearl to no longer be a something that will significantly change their lives for the better, but a tumor that has latched on to Kino’s life and is corrupting his value and his priorities. This strong desire for the pearl also leads him to act in primitive and animalistic ways. After Juana had attempted to get rid of the pearl for the sake of their family he “hissed at her like a snake” and he also jumps “like an angry cat” at the intruder that had attempted to steal the pearl from his home. Not only is he behaving primally to defend …show more content…
Juana and Kino’s bond begins to dwindle as Kino’s obsession with wealth causes him to ignore and hurt Juana when she advises him to get rid of the pearl. In the beginning, Juana did not have a good feeling about the pearl and later realizes this. She says, “this pearl is evil. Let us destroy it before it destroys us… Kino, it is evil, it is evil!” (57). Juana is a woman of a few words, so this sentence is essential in showing how important it is to her to have her husband know how malicious the pearl is. The emphasis of its iniquity is shown as she repeats the word multiple times. After attempting to throw the pearl back in the ocean, Kino had “wrenched the pearl from her. He struck her in the face with his clenched fist and she fell among the boulders, and he kicked her in the side.” (59). Not only does Kino continuously choose to ignore Juana’s persistent wishes to get rid of the pearl, he also ignores his brothers recommendation to not have it with them for it brings danger to their family. Kino greed leads him to risk this and heads to the capital anyway with Juana and Coyotito, even when he is aware he will get attacked again or chased after for his pearl. The death of his son is ironic because Kino had forgotten what he had wanted to sell the pearl for and risked his family’s safety for money. He had originally desired to

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