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What is the symbolism of the scorpion in The Pearl?

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bramma | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 17, 2012 at 4:51 PM via web

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What is the symbolism of the scorpion in The Pearl?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 17, 2012 at 5:17 PM (Answer #1)

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The inciting event of John Steinbeck'sThe Pearlis found in chapter 1, when Coyotito, the son of Juana and Kino, is stung by a scorpion.

The manner in which this event occurs is worthy of analysis. First, the scorpion had been hiding, lingering around Coyotito's bedside for a while. Second, Kino and Juana are suddenly aware of its presence, pray a Hail Mary and basically beg that the scorpion does not hurt their child. Third, at all this time, Coyotito is innocently unaware of his impending danger, as he "laughed", and "extended his hand" toward the rope from where the scorpion was hanging. At a jerk of the rope, the scorpion lands on the baby's shoulder and stings him regardless of anything that could have been done by Juana and Kino.

The sequence of events that marks this event suggests that the scorpion is a symbol of the inevitable evils of the world, as well as of fate and its own inevitability. We all succumb to it fate and evil, or else they find a way to brush with us regardless of what our parents, society, friends, or other support systems try to do to control these two powerful forces.

Coyotito is every innocent man, much like his father, and he is suddenly attacked by the forces of something evil brought in by fate. In this case, it is the scorpion. The scorpion came out of nowhere, and uninvited, just like evil things do. Without knowing it, Coyotito inadvertently brought the scorpion toward him, the same way in which we could attract the mean nature of people, or any other bad influence. Similarly, Coyotito was stung, ending the innocence of the moment. This is yet another allegory to how the inevitability of fate, and evil, affect our lives.

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