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The Pearl, Book Review Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1083

Book Review

1A. There are three main areas of conflict in this short novel. Firstly, class conflict between the poor people of the village and the richer types who represent established power. These characters are primarily the doctor and the priest, both of whom use their status and power to try and exploit Kino. The doctor does this right at the start of the book, when he refuses to treat Kino’s child because the pearl fisherman cannot pay. Later he deliberately makes the baby ill so that he can return and make it well again, in an attempt to get more money from Kino. This conflict is also racial, because it is between the poor Indians the wealthy white upper class like the doctor.

The second main area of conflict is that between Mankind and the natural world. This is represented by the way in which trouble follows Kino and Juanita after the huge pearl is removed from its natural location at the bottom of the ocean.

The third area of conflict is between Kino and Juana. The two parents have different ideas about what to do with the pearl, with Juana being totally concerned with the life of her baby. This conflict is shown by the way in which the baby is killed during Kino’s fight with the trackers towards the end of the book. The baby is killed in the struggle by accident, but it is beacuse of the desire for the pearl, which Juanita wanted Kino to throw into the sea.

1B. The class conflict is never resolved, it remains ongoing. The reader knows that something like this may well happen again, because society has not changed. There is some sense of resolution though, when Kino returns to throw the pearl into the sea, singing the Song of the Family. As he throws the pearl away, it is like he has come home to his people.

The conflict with the natural world is resolved when the pearl returns to the ocean, to first nestle amid green plants, and then disappear.

“And the pearl settled into the lovely green water and dropped towards the bottom. The waving branches of the algae called to it and beckoned to it. The lights on its surface were green and lovely. It settled down to the sand bottom among the fern-like plants. Above, the surface of the water was a green mirror. And the pearl lay on the floor of the sea. A crab scampering over the bottom raised a little cloud of sand, and when it settled the pearl was gone.”

Kino and Juana resolve their conflict when the pearl is thrown into the sea. As the novel states:

“And Kino heard the music of the pearl, distorted and insane. Kino’s hand shook a little, and he turned slowly to Juana and held the pearl out to her. She stood beside him, still holding her dead bundle over her shoulder. She looked at the pearl in his hand for a moment and then she looked into Kino’s eyes and said softly: ‘No, you.'”

The act of throwing the pearl away has brought them back together.

1C. The most important of these conflicts is the class conflict between the poor people of the town and the doctor and other rich people. This conflict defines the lives of the Indians, as they are continually being exploited by the doctor and the priest. Their lives can never improve as long as this conflict is continued.

This is seen on three key occasions in the book:

Firstly, when the doctor deliberately poisons the baby in order to make it look like he has cured it. He does this so he can get a greater share of the wealth of the pearl.

Secondly, the pearl buyers combine to keep prices for pearls low, which means that the vilagers miss out on the wealth that is owed to them for their dangerous work.

Thirdly, the priest shows that he is not really concerned for the spiritual welfare of the vilage, but only wants the pearl so he can fix his church. The way in which the villagers fear but do not necessarily respect the priest or white man’s religion is shown by the way in which traditional beliefs are still practised, as when Kino’s wife utters an older prayer when the baby is bitten by the scorpion. “Under her breath Juana repeated an ancient magic to guard against such evil.”

2A. The two most important messages in the novel are to leave nature alone and to treat everyone fairly.

  • This is because the novel is primarily about man’s relationship to nature and how exploiting nature leads to problems we cannot foresee. Kino thought that he was going to become wealthy and improve the life of himself and his family, but it did not turn out like that. We see this when fear grows around Kino after he has possessed the pearl. When his wife asks him who he fears after he has hidden the pearl, “Kino searched for a true answer, and at last he said: ‘Everyone.'”

We also see that it is important to treat everyone fairly, as the doctor’s cruel and selfish behaviour results in more trouble for Kino and his family. He even at one stage makes the baby delliberately sick so that he can exploit the family for more money. This is not how a civilised doctor would act. It shows how vile the class conflict in the village is that he would do this.

  • The most important of these two messages is to leave the natural world alone as much as possible, and to treat it with respect.

This is the most important, because in the novel all the trouble results from mankind greedily trying to exploit nature for as much wealth as possible. We can see how this has caused problems in the real world with things like the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. This continues to cause problems in the area to this day, and was regarded by the US government as occurring because of working practises which require reforming.

We also get an idea of the importance of this idea to the author in his descriptions of nature. The way in which the pearl rests among “lovely green water” helps to show his positive view of nature. It is only when the pearl is taken from the water that it is exposed to men’s greed. If it had been left to rest in the ocean, none of the problems which affected Kino and his family would have occurred.

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