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The Pearl | Study Guide

John Steinbeck

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Course Hero. "The Pearl Study Guide." Course Hero. 14 Dec. 2017. Web. 29 Nov. 2022. <>.

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The Pearl | Prologue | Summary



Addressing the reader in the present tense, the narrator describes how "in the town they tell the story of the great pearl" which was "found" and "lost again." The story of Kino, Juana, and the infant Coyotito "has been told so often," it has become part of the people who tell and know the story. In the telling and retelling, it has lost its original nuances and shades of grey to become a parable open to the interpretation of whoever contemplates it.


The narrator introduces the idea that the story which follows has its roots in actual events of the past, but has now become a parable. A parable is a story that uses an interconnected set of symbols to reveal universal truths or moral lessons. Some of the most well-known examples of parables are those short teaching stories delivered by Jesus in the biblical New Testament. By introducing the main story with this message directly from the narrator to the reader, Steinbeck invites the reader to participate more fully in the creation of the text's meaning—to be alert to its symbols and connections and to contemplate it in terms of what the reader already knows or assumes about life. This preface also gives the reader the feeling that he is part of an oral tradition of storytelling, much like the oral traditions that bind together the people of La Paz who are the focus of the story.

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