Describe John Steinbeck's use of dialogue in The Pearl.

Quick answer:

In The Pearl, Steinbeck uses dialog to project power and determination. What little dialog there is in the story is expressed through short sentences that are nonetheless infused with great purpose and authority, reflecting the power status of the characters who speak these words.

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As a moral parable, Steinbeck's The Pearl doesn't have much dialog. But the little it does have is hugely significant and tells us a lot about the characters in the story.

Primarily, Steinbeck uses dialog to project power, determination, and authority. To that end, he employs short sentences that force the reader to pay attention to what the characters are saying. In this way, we are almost commanded to listen to what's being said, reinforcing the overriding sense that dialog in the story is a method of exerting control, not just over characters and their situations but also ourselves.

One might think, then, that dialog would only be used by the socially and economically dominant characters in the story, such as the Doctor. But that's not the case at all. Even Juana, an indigenous woman, expresses what power and determination she has through dialog. For instance, when her son, Coyotito, gets sick, she issues a demand to her husband Kino:

"The doctor," she said. "Go to get the doctor."

However lowly her role may be within both society and her household, Juana is still a mother, and when her maternal instinct kicks in, she exerts control over her husband, something that wouldn't normally be the case. And the language that she uses—insistent, demanding, and full of urgency—conveys in no uncertain terms the power that she exercises over Kino at this precise moment in time.

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