In The Pearl, what feelings toward the doctor does Steinbeck communicate?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The doctor is perhaps the most corrupt, reprehensible character in the novel. He is a vain and arrogant man who considers Kino and his people to be animals unworthy of his time or attention. The doctor lives in a fine house, surrounded by wealth, his money having come from his rich dead wife. When he is first introduced into the story, he sits at home in his silk robe, drinking chocolate from a fine china cup, while Kino and Juana wait at the gate with their desperately sick baby. They are turned away. The doctor has no concern for a sick Indian baby.

Later in the story, when it becomes known that Kino has found a great pearl, the doctor goes to Kino and Juana's little home, pretending to care about Coyotito's health. We can infer from Steinbeck's writing that the doctor deliberately makes the baby violently ill so that he can return later to "heal" him, for a price. Kino suspects what the doctor has done, and is filled with rage, but he is powerless to act. Kino's lack of knowledge and his fear for his baby's life make it impossible for him to challenge the doctor, who is most certainly an evil man.