In The Pearl, John Steinbeck uses vivid imagery to enhance the effect of various symbolic objects. The most important of these is clearly the pearl itself. When it is first revealed, Steinbeck says,
Kino lifted the flesh, and there it lay, the great pearl, perfect as the moon. It captured the light and refined it and gave it back in silver incandescence. It was as large as a sea-gull's egg. It was the greatest pearl in the world.
The beauty and size of the pearl are immediately emphasized in similes comparing it to the moon and to a seagull's egg. The pearl even refines the light into something purer and more beautiful. This description goes some way towards justifying the intense psychological hold the pearl has over Kino, even as it destroys his life and family.
Unlike the pearl, which is introduced as pure and beautiful, the scorpion is evidently evil from the moment it appears in Kino's home:
It stopped, and its tail rose up over its back in little jerks and the curved thorn on the tail's end glistened.
The irregular, unpredictable movements of the scorpion and the repeated description of the sting in its tail as a thorn give a sense of the danger it represents. As with the pearl, the imagery reinforces the symbolism.
Another object which is described in striking images is Kino's "high and graceful" canoe, with its "hard shell-like waterproof plaster." When Kino's canoe is smashed, the author observes,
The killing of a man was not so evil as the killing of a boat.
Kino takes great care of his canoe. It is a thing of beauty and an essential part of his way of life. The imagery used to describe the canoe makes this clear and emphasizes the shock of its destruction.