Essay on Symbolism in the Pearl by John Steinbeck

1501 Words Apr 9th, 2011 7 Pages
In John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, rich symbolism is used to convey the message of the parable being told. Symbolism is a useful tool in storytelling because it helps the author add a deeper meaning to the story. In The Pearl, Steinbeck enriches every aspect of the story with symbolism from the setting, to characters, and the plot itself. The different symbols interact with one another throughout the story, which ultimately affects the outcome of the novel. The first and most important symbol is the massive pearl that Kino finds. The pearl is very rich with symbolic meaning, which changes through the story. When Kino finally brings the massive stone to the surface and examines it, he views the pearl as the blessing of a lifetime. …show more content…
The ocean is one of the first symbols of the novel. It represents the unstable source of sustenance for the village. Like the ocean, pearl diving is very unpredictable and unreliable. An unsuccessful day of pearl diving ultimately suppresses the dependent family deeper into poverty. This unstable support system was one of the factors that lead Kino to risk his family’s well being in order to sell the pearl. The next important symbol of the story is the scorpion. The scorpion not only serves as a symbol, but also as a foreshadowing tool. The venomous creature represents the evil forces that will soon enter their lives. The insect unsuspectingly snuck into their home and preyed on the innocent child. This was apparent foreshadowing of the pearl abruptly entering the lives of the seemingly innocent family. In addition, the scorpion can also be interpreted as the magnitude of the poverty of the family. The fact that they had no means to pay for the anti-venom shows what little wealth they had. Like the ocean symbolism, the inability to pay for treatment of the sting also fueled Kino’s destructive behavior that lead to Coyotito’s death. Another symbol and foreshadowing device in the novel are the tribal songs that Kino hears through the story. In the beginning of the story, Kino is laying in bed contently listening to the sounds of his surroundings.
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