Find two examples of disease imagery in Steinbeck's The Pearl and explain what each refers to.

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tmcquade eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Two examples of disease imagery come up fairly early in The Pearl, with the first appearing just after Coyotito has been stung by the scorpion.  In response to his injury, Juana immediately sucks out the poison then applies a poultice:

She gathered some brown seaweed and made a flat damp poultice of it, and this she applied to the baby's swollen shoulder, which was as good a remedy as any and probably better than the doctor could have done (15).

This traditional remedy is very effective in soothing Coyotito.  By the time the doctor arrives, Coyotito is feeling much better and has mostly recovered - that is, until the doctor begins his "treatment," causing Coyototo to become very ill until the doctor gives his remedy.

A second image, also involving a poultice against sickness or disease, comes up after Kino has discovered the pearl.  As he contemplates the many possibilities it presents to him and his family, he begins to dream of a better future for all of them:

Its warm lucence promised a poultice against illness and a wall against insult.  It closed a door on hunger (39).

The pearl, he believes, will end his family's poverty and all of the misfortunes that result from it.  Filled with hope, he believes the pearl only has good things to offer - that it will make his life, as well as the lives of his wife and son, better.  Soon, however, the greed the pearl inspires in those around him brings about a series of evil acts with terrible consequences.