What does the pearl seem to reveal about everyone’s desires?John Steinbeck's The Pearl

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When any object of value becomes excessive in size, it then enters the realm of becoming more than a diamond, more than a ruby, or more than a pearl; it becomes a talisman.  in John Steinbeck's The Pearl, Kino's Pearl of the World extends beyond itself, as indicated by its name.  Now, it possesses a magical power to satisfy people's desires.  For instance, the doctor perceives the pearl in his cupidity as having the magic to return him to Paris and its luxury and social position that he so desires.

Likewise, with others who perceive the great pearl, for them, too, it achieves dimensions beyond its scope.  The pearl, they are convinced, will open the way to wealth and social position, to prominence and respect.  When the priest mentions the pearl, he, too, wants something from it for his church; and, as Kino glances around suspiciously, he hears "the evil song ...in his ears, shrilling against the music of the pearl."  This evil song, of course, is the greed that such a talisman elicits.  As the one who holds this talisman, Kino is now no longer part of the community.  For, since others envy it, Kino is separated from them in his place in their society.  He is outside the circle; no longer one of them.  Thus, with the burgeoning greed of others for the pearl, Kino and his family are set apart and isolated rather dangerously, at that.  But, they have no peace.

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