The Pearl - Lesson Plans and Activities

John Steinbeck

  • The Pearl eNotes Essential Lessons

    Each of the following lessons is geared to a specific skill category and Common Core standard. It includes a step-by-step guide to teaching the lesson as well as handouts, assessments, modification, and enrichment activities. The lessons follow accompany the short story of The Pearl by John Steinbeck. Table of Contents: Lesson 1: Studying Diction and Mood in a Narrative Passage Lesson 2: Imagery in descriptive writing Lesson 3: Creating Suspense in Narration Lesson 4: Characterization in Narrative Writing Lesson 5: Writing a Paragraph of Exposition Lesson 6: Dramatizing the Story Lesson 7: Exploring Personal Values Lesson 8: Studying New Vocabulary Words in Context Lesson 9: Tracing the Chronological Development of Plot Lesson 10: Using the Dash in Punctuation Lesson 11: The Nature of Courage            Lesson 12: A Matter of Choice Lesson 13: Creating Imagery Lesson 14: Punctuating dialogue Lesson 15: Examining Naturalism Lesson 16: Parable/Fable Lesson 17: A Twist of Fate Lesson 18: The Rest of the Story Lesson 19: The More Things Change… Lesson 20: Universal Truths

  • The Pearl eNotes Response Journal

    Why is it so important that Kino find a pearl of some value? What does the “Song of the Pearl That Might Be” suggest about how he is feeling as he gathers the oysters? Sometimes Juana observes Christian customs; sometimes she prays to the ancient gods of her people. Why do you suppose she does both? Which set of beliefs do you think are more a part of her? Why? Juana and Kino believe the doctor can treat Coyotito’s illness better than Juana can because his medicine costs money. Are expensive things always better than things that are inexpensive? Explain what you think, and give some examples.

  • The Pearl eNotes Lesson Plan

    John Steinbeck’s novella The Pearl focuses on a single central question: Is there danger in wanting to improve one’s lot in life? In this parable, Kino is an impoverished Indian who lives near the town of La Paz, Mexico, on the Gulf of California; when he discovers “the greatest pearl in the world,” his life is irrevocably changed. Though the plot is simple, the themes in The Pearl touch on many fundamental aspects of human nature and human experience; ambition, obsession, oppression, greed, reason, instinct, trust, and self-preservation are all addressed in the narrative.  As the story opens, Kino’s simple life fulfills him. He loves his wife, Juana, and his baby, Coyotito. He lives in harmony with the natural world around him, satisfied and at peace. When Kino finds a great pearl, he is overjoyed and begins to aspire to a better life. He announces that he will send his son to school, which will liberate Coyotito from the oppressive yoke of colonialism. However, evil begins to assert itself. Kino becomes mistrustful, suspicious, and isolated. Consumed by greed, he strikes his wife and kills a man. Eventually, he and his family must leave town in the dark of night. The family is tracked like animals until they are discovered in the mountains. In the novella’s dramatic climax, one of the hunters kills Coyotito, destroying all of Kino’s hopes and dreams for the future. Carrying the body of their dead child, he and Juana return to town, where Kino throws the pearl back into the sea.  Steinbeck’s parable seems to suggest that ambition is inherently evil. The idea negates the desire to reach for the American Dream, a dream that has traditionally linked happiness to prosperity. Modern readers can relate to questions raised in The Pearl: Is it better to be satisfied or to aspire to more? What if trying to improve our standard of living means that we can no longer appreciate what we already have? How do ambition and greed change our relationships with others and alter our attitudes and actions? Since ambition is generally accepted as being a positive character trait and achieving prosperity is deemed by most to be a worthy pursuit, The Pearl offers interesting insights that many students may not have considered.  Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1962) and the author of classics such as The Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row, and Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck wrote extensively about the oppressed, the disenfranchised, and the destitute. Having already been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath, he was a well-established writer by the time he wrote The Pearl, which originally appeared in Woman’s Home Companion in 1945, at the end of World War II. The Pearl reflects the great disillusionment in humanity Steinbeck felt as a result of the war. The Holocaust had revealed unimaginable human evil, and the terrors of the atomic bomb had been imprinted on the human psyche. In its simple story and elemental themes, The Pearl is a powerful cautionary tale about the physical and spiritual destruction that ensues when man’s baser instincts prevail.