In The Pearl by John Steinbeck, how are the main characters alike and how are they different?

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The two main character of the novella The Pearl, Kino and Juana, are similar and very different. On the one hand, they are similar: they are both hardworking, honest, and poor. They both have good hearts and live an honest life to make their lives better. However, when Kino discovers the pearl, their differences emerge.

In the pearl, Kino sees a new life. He dreams of a better life for his son, Coyotito. He can see Coyotito in school, dressed well, and moving up in the world. Moreover, he is willing to bend rules and fight to make this happen. This pearl is the means by which he will succeed. Here is a quote that shows this:

In the pearl he saw Coyotito sitting at a little desk in a school, just as Kino had once seen it through an open door. And Coyotito was dressed in a jacket, and he had on a white collar and a broad silken tie. Moreover, Coyotito was writing on a big piece of paper. Kino looked at his neighbors fiercely. “My son will go to school,” he said, and the neighbors were hushed...

Juana, on the other hand, is more cautious. At first she is excited for the discovery, but when she senses the greed of others, she see the dangers of the pearl. To put it pointedly, she see what they can lose on account of the pearl, whereas Kino can only see what he can gain. Juana, therefore, would like to go back to their old lives, even if it is hard. In the end, Juana was right.

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