What are the social issues found in The Pearl by John Steinbeck?

The social issues of poverty, crime, systemic greed, and official corruption are found in The Pearl. These issues begin to have an impact on Kino and his family as soon as they have something worth stealing.

Expert Answers

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

The conservative political commentator and humorist P. J. O'Rourke has asserted that one does not solve the problem of poverty by giving money to poor people. Although this is a point most often made by conservatives, there is widespread agreement across the political spectrum that social issues will often prevent a poor person from benefiting from sudden wealth, such as a lottery win. The pearl Kino finds is his lottery win, and it brings him nothing but misery, due to the corrupt society in which he lives.

The pearl buyers represent the greed of a capitalist system which will never allow the pearl divers to receive a fair price. This system marks Kino out as a victim the moment he has something of value, and he is constantly pursued by thieves. The doctor, in particular, symbolizes a system in which life is dependent on money. It is ironic that, of the two main events at the beginning of the story, the first, which appears a tragedy , turns out to be harmless, while the second, which...

(The entire section contains 5 answers and 989 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on June 23, 2020