The Role Of Doctor In The Pearl By John Steinbeck

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“The Pearl” by John Steinbeck tells the story of Kino, a poor pearl diver, who's son, Coyotito, gets stung by a scorpion. To treat his son’s scorpion bite, Kino takes Coyotito to the doctor. Although the doctor does not feature predominantly in in the book’s storyline, he plays a very important role in the plot of the novella. From the moment he is introduced in the book, the doctor is portrayed as being an extremely despicable person who is self-indulgent, unsympathetic and only cares about himself, a mercenary who is avaricious, and a cruel, manipulative and arrogant individual. He is the opposite of what one would expect a doctor to be like, and through him, Steinbeck represents the cruelty and evil of the Spanish colonials.

The doctor
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The moment the doctor hears that Kino has acquired a pearl of great size and value, the doctor comes to Kino’s house to treat Coyotito. He lies and informs Kino that he “was not in” his house that morning when Kino came, when he in fact was, and says that he came “at first chance” to see the baby, when he came just because Kino had obtained wealth. When the doctor arrives at Kino’s house, Coyotito is already well, so when the doctor ‘treats’ Coyotito, although it is not obviously stated, the doctor gives Coyotito something that makes him sick, which gives him an excuse to come back and pretend to “cure” the baby of the scorpion bite. The doctor takes advantage of Kino’s lack of understanding of medicine and misleads him by saying that the “poison has gone inwards” and would ‘strike soon” in about an hour. Kino, having no knowledge of medicine, has no choice but to believe the doctor as he “could not take the chance of putting his certain ignorance” against the doctor’s “possible knowledge”. When the doctor comes back to Kino’s house after an hour, he uses this chance to ask Kino to give him the pearl to keep for safe keeping, so that he can steal it. When Kino refuses, the doctor observes him and tells him that “it would be a shame” to have the pearl stolen before he could sell it. When he says this, Kino’s eyes involuntarily flick to the floor where he has buried the …show more content…
He considers himself at a higher status than Kino and his people, as he is part of the race that had “beaten and starved and robbed” Kino’s race- the Spanish colonials. As a doctor, he is obligated to save human lives, but when presented with someone whom he regards to be at a lower status than him, the doctor feels no such obligation. At first, when presented with Coyotito’s scorpion bite to cure, the doctor rhetorically asks the servant who brought him the message, if he has “nothing better to do than cure insect bites” for Kino’s people. The way in which the doctor addresses Coyotito’s scorpion bite makes the bite seem like a very unimportant and small injury when it could actually be fatal. He then proceeds on to say that he is a “doctor, not a veterinary”. A veterinary treats animals, which shows that he considers Kino’s race to be uncivilised animals. From this, it is evident that the doctor is racist and therefore looks down on Kino’s

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