The Pearl | Study Guide

John Steinbeck

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The Pearl | Infographic

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Check out this Infographic to learn more about John Steinbeck's The Pearl. Study visually with character maps, plot summaries, helpful context, and more.

Narrator, Chapter 2 t was as large as a sea-gull’s egg. It was the greatest pearl in the world. Sources:,, IMDb, National Geographic, NPR Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Framed as a parable, The Pearl is set in the fishing village of La Paz, Mexico. After his infant son receives a dangerous scorpion sting, Kino—a poor but happy pearl diver—finds an enormous pearl. The pearl seems to promise a better future for Kino’s people, but tragedy follows from the greed the pearl arouses. Grasping for Treasure OVERVIEW Tragedy & Hope A scorpion stings baby Coyotito; parents Kino and Juana hope to find a valuable pearl to pay for the doctor. Luck Kino finds a huge pearl and plans to use it to pay for his son’s education. Darkness The pearl brings darkness as Kino becomes the enemy of those who covet the pearl and kills a man over it. Death Kino and Juana flee their village, but one of the men pursuing them shoots and kills baby Coyotito after hearing him cry. 1 3 2 4 Chance that any given wild oyster will produce a valuable pearl Mortality rate of pearl divers in the late 1800s and early 1900s Year Steinbeck traveled to La Paz, where The Pearl is based Year a film version of The Pearl, for which Steinbeck helped write the screenplay, was produced 1947 <1/10,000 ~50% 1940 The Pearlby the Numbers Individual & Community Because individuals are parts of the larger community organism, separation means death. Luck & Chance Events are determined by luck, which signifies the gods’ approval, as well as by random chance. Change & Social Order The individual who seeks to overthrow an oppressive social order will only encounter failure and tragedy. Themes A winner of both the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes for his writing, Steinbeck is best remembered for his “proletarian novels” like The Pearl and The Grapes of Wrath. These novels give voice to the experiences and struggles of the poor, the working-class, and the oppressed. JOHN STEINBECK1902–68 Author Main Characters Kino Fierce young pearl diver looking for good luck after his son’s injury Juan Tomás Thoughtful protector of Kino and Juana; warns against dangers of pearl ownership Juana Loyal, devoted, brave woman; leery of the pearl’s bad luck Coyotito Innocent victim of greed for the pearl Doctor Greedy, arrogant false healer HARMS BROTHERS MARRIED FATHER MOTHER English Original Language 1947 First Published John Steinbeck Author The Pearl Allegory Novella