What effects are observed as a result of the introduction of Western culture to the rural environment in "The Pearl"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 1, Steinbeck describes "a race which for nearly four hundred years had beaten and starved and robbed and despised Kino's race, and frightened it too, so that the indigene came humbly to the door".  Western imperialists, as exemplified by the doctor, created a class system which exploited the natives and prevented them from improving their lives.  The Indians were subjugated by lack of education, economic practices, and religion.

In Chapter 3, Kino must swallow his pride and bow before the superior education of the doctor, who would only serve Kino because of his newfound wealth.  Kino "could not take the chance of pitting his certain ignorance against this man's possible knowledge...he was trapped...and would be until...(he) could be sure that the things in the books were really in the books". 

In Chapter 4, the neighbors note that economically, "all of us have been cheated all of our lives".  Although it appears that there are many buyers bidding against each other so that fishermen could get a fair price for their pearls, in reality "there was only one pearl buyer with many hands"; the rest of the bidders worked for him.  It is impossible for the natives to get ahead, and the Church perpetuates their situation, exhorting that they should be satisfied with their station in life, "each one...remain(ing) faithful to his post and...not...running about...else...danger from the assaults of Hell".