The Author: John Steinbeck Biographical Information
Born in Salinas, California in 1902. His father was a county treasurer and his mother was a school teacher. From her, Steinbeck acquired a great love of books.
Steinbeck attended the local high school and worked on farms and ranches during his vacations. Between 1920 and 1926, he studied marine biology at Stanford University, but did not take a degree-he always planned to be a writer. Several of his early poems and short stories appeared in university publications. After college he held a job as a reporter in New York, but was fired because he started to insert his own opinions into the articles he wrote. Steinbeck returned to California. While writing, Steinbeck took odd jobs. He was an apprentice painter, caretaker of an estate, surveyor, fruit-picker and fisherman.
Steinbeck became very involved with “social causes” and tried to provide a voice for the oppressed and inarticulate.
His works compromise an overview of 20th century American life. Also, he revels in the simple joys and the splendors of nature.
Steinbeck was a naturalistic writer; the search for truth defines the form and content of his works.
He demonstrated firsthand knowledge in writing about actual experiences he had.
The language is “common,” to reflect the realism of his characters who are common.
Steinbeck uses symbolism to add impact to his theme for the cause of the common man.
He takes the simple actions of his story and manipulates their elements to make a statement of human truth, which goes beyond the text. It is important for a reader to recognize that there is more beyond the surface of his narratives.
John Steinbeck heard a story about a great pearl while in Mexico. This story became the basis for The Pearl .
The setting of The Pearl is a small, sleepy, Mexican fishing village named La Paz, nestled on an estuary (mouth) of the Gulf of California.
The Pearl tells how a “lucky” fisherman, Kino, discovers the Pearl of the World. The rest of the story deals with his attempts to sell the pearl to start a better life for his family.
Kino is blind to the poison of greed which infects him. Unknown people try to steal the pearl.
Steinbeck uses musical themes throughout the novel to clarify feelings and emotional content
The Pearl Continued
Also, Steinbeck reveals the interrelatedness of good and evil in his story of man’s condition and position in life
The Pearl may be considered a parable ( a narrative with a moral)
In this narrative a fisherman, who has led a simple, tranquil, existence tries to rise above his station. The Pearl tells of a society with which the protagonist Kino comes in conflict. Throughout the story, Steinbeck shows us a society of prejudice and greed. This is a society that has no intention of allowing an outsider, an unprivileged person, to realize the dream of bettering his life. This society is determined to hold him back.