What two similes describe the pearl Kino found in John Steinbeck's novella The Pearl? 

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter two of The Pearl, by John Steinbeck, Kino and his little family are in the canoe as Kino goes diving for pearls. He sees the "great oyster" and senses there may be something special in it. When he arrives back at the surface, Juana urges her husband to open it. This is what he happens:

Kino deftly slipped his knife into the edge of the shell. Through the knife he could feel the muscle tighten hard. He worked the blade lever-wise and the closing muscle parted and the shell fell apart. The lip-like flesh writhed up and then subsided. 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 two similes Steinbeck uses in this description are "perfect as the moon" and "as large as a seagull's egg." Each of these comparisons reveal important qualities of Kino's great pearl. First, it is perfectly round (something that is not true of many uncultured pearls), just as a full moon is perfectly round. Second, it is large, the same size as a seagull's egg. Unfortunately, few modern readers will know what that means, specifically, but Kino and the other villagers do. Steinbeck uses these similes to create effective description. 

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A simile is a literary device that is used to compare two things. Unlike metaphors, similes draw direct comparisons by using the words "like" or "as." In Chapter 2 of the novella, Kino discovers the great pearl. Steinbeck employs a simile by writing that the pearl was as "perfect as the moon."

Later on in the novella, a mysterious person attempts to steal the pearl from Kino in the middle of the night. The man attacks Kino, wounding him in the head. As Juana is dressing Kino's wounds, she employs a simile by saying, "This pearl is like a sin!" (Steinbeck, 20) Juana recognizes that the pearl is evil; it is the object of greed throughout the community. She petitions Kino to get rid of the pearl, but he refuses to listen to her.

When Kino attempts to sell the pearl in town, one of the dealers uses a simile to describe the pearl by saying, "This pearl is like fool's gold" (Steinbeck, 25). The dealer compares the valuable pearl to fool's gold in hopes of cheating Kino out of his prized possession.

At the end of the story, Kino looks down to see Coyotito lying dead in the cave. Kino realizes that the pearl has been an evil curse on his family. Steinbeck uses a simile to describe the pearl's appearance by writing, "it was gray, like a malignant growth" (47).

Read the study guide:
The Pearl

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