Girl With a Pearl Earring

by Tracy Chevalier

Start Free Trial

How is the pearl earring a symbol that allows the reader to gain insight into the changes and life journey of Griet? What does is represent/symbolize?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

According to the author, the pearl earring "is important as a symbol because it represents the world Griet gets drawn into and ultimately rejected from."  Her father's blindness leads to her family's poverty which then leads to Griet's exposure to a whole other world. Griet is cast into the Vermeer household where she must endure jealousy and suspicion. When Griet is allowed into Vermeer's studio, a place even his wife cannot enter, she struggles with the moral values with which she's been raised. This is a world that is totally foreign to her, but it's also one that she's drawn to because she's allowed to participate in Vermeer's artistic creations. Both she and Vermeer know it will be disastrous for her to pose for him, but Griet does it anyway. I think she realizes this will be her only opportunity to be a part of something she knows is special. The earrings belong to Vermeer's wife, and they represent the wealth and prestige of the Vermeer family, but they also represent Griet's purity.

I have posted the link to the interview with Chevalier below.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team