How does the author John Steinbeck use naturalism in the book The Pearl?

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Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Steinbeck used naturalism, showing believable, everyday events, to showcase his story. Kino is a pearl diver, living in a primitive environment, despite it probably being in the contemporary age of the late 19th- or 20th-century. The description of the surroundings of Kino’s hut by the sea is typical of the lifestyle of the natives of the time. This is in contrast to the life of the people who live in the village with modern conveniences. Kino’s reactions are such that would be normal for a pearl diver of the time, finding a large pearl. It is also typical that he faces the discrimination of the village doctor and priest, who look down on the people they have conquered. The portrait of Juana, cooking for her family and caring for her baby, is simple. Survival is more important than advancement. Pessimism is also a trait of literary naturalism, and this story does not have a happy ending. It is clear from the beginning that Kino’s destiny is not one of financial success. He will meet with disaster and unhappiness through his finding of the pearl.