How do you start aThe Pearl by John Steinbeck research paper? Our expert writers suggest like this:
As one of the most important novellas of the 20th century, The Pearl by John Steinbeck possesses a number of critical themes.
- The role of greed in The Pearl
- Imperialism and Racial Superiority in The Pearl
- Colonialism as symbolized by the doctor
First is the role that greed plays in destroying the lives of individuals. When Kino discovered the pearl, he intended on using it to pay for his son's medical treatment, a selfless act. However, the people of the town were greedy, and engaged in varying levels of violence and destruction to secure the pearl for themselves. When Kino's domestic partner realizes this, she herself tries to get rid of the pearl, with Kino's greed for possessing it causing him to be violent towards her. Further, Kino was greedy when considering the amount of money he could obtain for the pearl; he believed that the offer he received in the town was not sufficient, so he intended on going to the capital. Had he not been greedy and had he accepted the original offer, his son would not have been killed by the tracker's bullet.
Steinbeck was also incorporating a theme that was common in his own society: imperialism and racial superiority. Because the white man that provided the medical care for the village would not treat Coyotito without first receiving an extensive sum of money, Kino was forced to travel to the capital to have enough money to pay for his services. The white man felt he was superior to the native people; he felt he could charge them whatever he wanted, whether or not going without the treatment would be fatal. The doctor symbolizes the arrogance of colonial nations throughout the world in the mid-20th century, many of whom reacted the same way to the native peoples they were oppressing. Though only a minor character, the doctor's actions shaped the course of the novella, allowing his importance to the theme of the story to become apparent upon further analysis.