Dreams of Greed: John Steinbeck Explores the Pitfalls of Material Desire in The Pearl

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“Greed, like the love of comfort, is a kind of fear.” John Steinbeck’s parable The Pearl illustrates this topic. Even the kindest of people can be driven to greed under the right circumstances. As unassuming of a flaw it seems to be, greed holds an invisible, yet strong hold on nearly every individual. Kino, a Mexican - Indian pearl diver, lives a content life with his wife, Juana, and his infant son, Coyotito. When his son is stung by a scorpion, there seems to be no hope for his treatment, due to the town doctor’s greed and sense of superiority. However, seemingly by chance, Kino manages to retrieve a massive pearl from the depths of the sea. Driven with a sense of hope for his son, Kino must protect his pearl from everything. John…show more content…
ThenKino's fist closed over the pearl and his emotion broke over him. He put back his head and howled. His eyes rolled up and he screamed and his body was rigid. The men in the other canoes looked up, startled,and then they dug their paddles into the sea and raced toward Kino’s canoe. (11) At first, the pearl is a symbol of hope, a good fortune bestowed upon Kino for the injury of his son. Enthralled with this new wealth and what he could obtain with it, Kino is overcome with emotion and joyfully exclaims. Dubbed the “Pearl of The World” by the villagers, it represented a dream come true. Oblivious with happiness, Kino and Juana are oblivious to anything but the good life they foresee for their family in the future. However, as soon as the town heard about Kino’s good luck, everyone’s greed began to fester. “Every man suddenly became related to Kino’s pearl, and Kino's pearl went into the dreams, the speculations,the schemes, the plans, the futures, the wishes, the needs, the lusts,the hungers, of everyone, and only one person stood in the way and that was Kino, so that he became curiously every man's enemy (12).” As Kino realizes not everyone shares his joy for such a good fortune, he begins to spend more and more energy protecting his treasure. The pearl thus seems to become less of a “prize” and more of a burdensome job. The pearl awakens a sense of greed in everyone, including Kino himself. The doctor and his assistant visit to examine Coyotito.

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