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

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Kale Emmerich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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John Steinbeck's The Pearl explores several different social issues. The most prominent is the concept of greed and the destruction to which it leads. Many characters are overcome by greed, from the doctor in the beginning, to the corporate pearl buyers who try to scam Kino, and to Kino himself. Greed is pervasive throughout most of the characters in the novel.

Fueling this greed, however, is rampant poverty and destitution. This economic pit that most of the characters find themselves in is a terrible way of life that is sustained by corporate greed.

Criminal activity and violence are also explored in detail, as Kino and his family have to run from and fend off thieves and attackers multiple times. At one point Kino himself is reduced to murder to protect his family, but in the end he still can’t save his son, in spite of the wealth he would have received from the pearl.

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One of the social issues you might like to explore is colonialist exploitation. The indigenous people of Mexico—such...

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