What imagery is used in The Pearl by John Steinbeck?

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In The Pearl, Steinbeck uses imagery to describe the beauty of the pearl itself, comparing it to the moon, a seagull's egg, and other important objects such as the scorpion and Kino's canoe.

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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.

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Imagery is defined as the author's use of figurative and descriptive language to appeal to the reader's senses. Imagery is created through the use of similes, metaphors, personification, and onomatopoeia to describe sight, feel, smell, sound, and taste, which adds depth to the text and makes the story more realistic.

In the novella The Pearl, Steinbeck utilizes imagery to depict the atmosphere of Kino and Juana's relatively peaceful life before it is upset. At the beginning of the story, Kino wakes up in his small hut on the beach and sits in the sand as Juana makes breakfast. As Kino stares at the ocean, Steinbeck utilizes imagery to describe the tranquil scene by appealing to the reader's senses. Steinbeck writes,

He [Kino] saw the specks of Gulf clouds flame high in the air. And a goat came near and sniffed at him and stared with its cold yellow eyes. Behind him Juana's fire leaped into flame and threw spears of light through the chinks of the brush-house wall and threw a wavering square of light out the door. A late moth blustered in to find the fire. The Song of the Family came now from behind Kino. And the rhythm of the family song was the grinding stone where Juana worked the corn for the morning cakes. The dawn came quickly now, a wash, a glow, a lightness, and then an explosion of fire as the sun arose out of the Gulf. Kino looked down to cover his eyes from the glare. He could hear the pat of the corncakes in the house and the rich smell of them on the cooking plate. (2)

Steinbeck appeals to the reader's visual senses by describing the tranquil scene of the morning sky above the Gulf, the sun bursting onto the beach, and Juana's small flickering fire. Steinbeck also utilizes imagery by depicting the sounds and smells of the morning. Kino can hear Juana making corncakes, smell them cooking on the fire, and imagine the Song of the Family in the background. Steinbeck's use of imagery in the opening scene of the story portrays Kino and Juana's peaceful life before Kino discovers the massive pearl, which upsets their entire world.

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There are many imageries in The Pearl. Let me give you two of them. 

First, we have the image of the pearl itself. This is most used and powerful imagery. On the one hand, the pearl is an image of nature. Kino, a pearl diver, finds a pearl; it is as simple as that. Moreover, he finds his livelihood in finding pearls. He lives off nature. This fits in nicely with is brush house and interaction with the ocean. 

On the other hand, Kino sees that the pearl is actually more than nature, because it is a pearl of great price. So, in this pearl he sees wealth, a better life, schooling for his son, and so much more. Others want this pearl as well. Hence, greed creeps into the picture. 

Another image is Kino's canoe. It has been passed down from generation to generation. It is his the way he makes a living. It is his connection with the past. So, when the canoe breaks, it is symbolic. There is a break with his past, and he will try to seek something more.  

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