Saturday, October 30, 2010

The themes and moral values in “The Pearl” a novel by John Steinbeck

the themes and moral values of THE PEARL
Hope this notes I wrote about the novel, The Pearl,
will be beneficial to all our dear form 5 students for the coming SPM 2010

1.       Family love and loyalty
The theme of family love and loyalty is expressed through this close-knit family and conveyed throughout the story in the following textual evidences:
Ø  Kino showed his fatherly love when he desperately tried to look for a pearl in order to treat his son. Kino hears a song- The Song of the Family- which reinforces the feeling of warmth and safety of being a part of the family.
Ø  Juana showed her motherly love when she is willing to suck out the poison /venom from her beloved baby’s shoulder. Juana insists to follow Kino off to the ocean as she wants to prepare poultice, a traditional cure made of seaweeds. When Kino killed the intruder, Juana gives Kino strength and makes him feel like a man again.
Ø  The family bond is extended to include Apolonia and Juan Tomas’ four children. When Kino’s house is burnt down and they are in trouble, Juan Tomas and his whole family are there to support and give them shelter.
The strong bond of the family love and loyalty is sometimes threatened in several events in the novel by the presence of the pearl. However, it still survives till the end of the story. 
2.       Greed and selfishness
The theme of greed and selfishness emerge and begin to change the characters in the story when Kino found the pearl. Greediness and selfishness lead to destructiveness and disunity among the people of La Paz. This theme is portrayed through the following textual evidences:
Ø  The doctor refuses to treat Coyotito because of Kino’s poverty.  However, when the doctor realizes that Kino is going to be wealthy,  he offers his help to cure Coyotito. The doctor betrayed the nobility of his profession with no practice of medical ethics. Instead of curing Coyotito, he drugs him and made him suffer from an acute illness. Then the doctor returned and gives him the antidote so that he will be fine again. The greedy and selfish minded doctor is actually being hypocrite.
Ø  The pearl buyers conspire to cheat Kino into selling the pearl at a very low price. The pearl buyers plane to cheat him because of their greediness to make more profits out of the pearl. They take advantage on Kino as they know Kino is uneducated and ignorant. However, Kino feels that the pear buyers have plotted together not to offer him a high price for the pearl,  so he plan to sell the pearl in the city.
Ø  The attackers and the trackers attempt to steal the pearl. They are willing to commit crime to steal the pearl in order to get money. They do not have the feeling of guiltiness in their heart when they tried to fight to get the pearl.
Greediness and selfishness lead people into doing all kinds of evilness in order to achieve their goal.

3.       Oppression and discrimination.
The theme of oppression and injustice is portrayed clearly in this story. Oppression and injustice toward the underprivileged, poorer class by the first class, rich citizen has caused injustice.
Ø  The doctor considers Kino’s family as savage. He will not come to the settlement to treat Coyotito when he was stung by a scorpion.  He claims himself as a doctor and not a veterinarian
Ø  The servant is also an unbearable character as he looks down on his own race. He is proud to work in a better situation.
Ø  The pearl buyers think that Kino is foolish and ignorant. They look down upon Kino and treat him as person who is not knowledgeable.
 The oppression and discrimination cause disunity and disharmony among the rich and poor community in the area.

4.       Dream and hope
The discovery of the pearl by Kino has caused Kino and the others to dream and hope for better lives. They dream and hope for materialism satisfaction.
Ø  Kino hopes his only son Coyotito to receive proper education in order to flee from poverty and discrimination. He also hopes for a proper marriage ceremony in church with his beloved wife, Juana. He wishes to receive blessings from the priest and to be married solemnly. He also wishes to buy himself a new rifle, as a symbol of power  and wealth.
Ø  The doctor offers to keep the pearl but Kino refuses. Then he pretended to treat Coyotito in order to get the pearl. He wishes to possess the pearl and get money out of it. He sees himself in Paris, sitting in a restaurant waiting for the waiter to serve him wine.
Ø  The priest also dreams of wealth of the pearl. He wishes to repair the church.
Ø  The shopkeepers think of the goods that have not sold well.
Ø  The pear buyers hope to buy the pearl in a very low price.
Ø  The villagers hope that Kino’s wealth will indirectly change their lives for better.
The dream and hope in Kino and the others has cause their lives to be not peaceful .

5.       Evil and violence
Evil is one of mankind’s instinctive qualities which come from greediness and deception. Thus  it can lead to committing evil and violence.
Ø  The doctor refuses to treat Kino and Juana’s only son, Coyotito is shown  a symbol of showing humans are evil. He rejects to treat him as they are of different race and Kino does not have money. He has no sense of humanity.
Ø  Kino lost his humanity, when Juana tries to throw the pearl. He is overtaken by his dreams and has turned evil when he hits Juana’s face and kicks her in the side. He behaves violently towards his loving wife when evil controlled him. He was so obsess of the pearl until he could not think rationally at the moment.
Ø  There events in this story that shows people become evil out of greediness and they take revenge as to fulfill their evil desire. The event of burning down Kino’s brush hut by the pearl buyers shows humans do evil acts to harm someone. The attackers and trackers want to steal the pearl. The event of  Kino killing the three trackers  when his baby is accidently killed by them also show violence and evil actions.

6.       Struggle and sacrifices
Struggle and sacrifices are also portrayed by Juana and Kino in this novel.

Ø  Juana is worried and claims that the pearl is evil, so she made up her mind to throw away the pearl but Kino refuses. Juana did not give up and she determined to bring back peace and safety to her family. She throws the pearl into the sea but Kino prevented her.
Ø  Kino is being protective to his family. He offers to lead the trackers away in order to give safety to Juana and Coyotito.
Ø  Kino indentifies the pear  with his soul, “If I give it up I shall lose my soul.” The truth is opposite- in keeping the pearl , he is losing his soul, and only in the act of throwing it away will he be able to save his soul. When Kino finally regain back his consciousness, he throws the pearl  (his dream) into the sea.

Moral values are values, lessons and behavior that are accepted as good and relevant by our society. Moral values are closely linked to the themes of the story.

1.       The importance of family ties
Ø  From the starting to the ending of the novel, Juana and Kino sticks together. Even in times of difficulties, such as when their house is burnt down, when they are hunted by the trackers and when their canoe is damaged , they still stick together.
**Lesson Learnt: love,support, patience and loyalty are needed to preserve family unity

Ø  Juana wakes up early in the morning to prepare breakfast. She also sucks out the poison from Coyotito’s shoulder and willing to stand by Kino even when she is bitten by him.
**Lesson Learnt: faithful, caring, loving are qualities that can nourish family ties.

Ø  When Coyotito is stung by the scorpion, Kino goes out in his canoe with Juana and Coyotito , hoping to find a pearl which he can sell to pay for Coyotito’s treatment . Kino is aware of his responsibility as  a father and a husband, he is willing to  go the sea in spite of the danger.
**Lesson Learnt: sacrifice and being responsible are qualities that can strengthen family ties.

Ø  Kino also maintains close ties with his brother, Juan Tomas. He brother walks with him to town but warns him about being cheated.  When Kino’s house is burnt down,  Kino turns to his brother who provides  his family shelter before they run away.
**Lesson Learnt: sharing problems to family members, be a consolable person

2.       Obsession that leads to greediness and exploitation
Ø     When Kino found the pearl, he become greed and wants to sell the pearl. He became obsess with pearl as he sees it as a way out of poverty. He ignores Juana’s pleas to get rid of the pearl for the sake of their safety. Due to his obsession, he changed from a loving and protective father and husband to a person who is aggressive and eventually he becomes too materialistic. He also hits Juana and commits murder. 
**Lesson Learnt: obsession can lead a person to think react aggressively , think carefully before retaliating.    

Ø   After the discovery of the pearl, the doctor suddenly becomes concerned about Coyotito’s health. He pretends to treat him as he knows that Kino will be able to pay him now. He wants to make Kino feel indebted to him. He becomes hypocrite because of his greediness.  Even the pearl buyers try to cheat him as they are greedy.
**Lesson Learnt:  do not be greedy and year for things that do not belong to you.

Ø   After Kino found the pearl, the priest exploits his power of authority. He reminds Kino of his duty to the church and ensures that Kino will give money to the church for some repair work.  
**Lesson Learnt: do not misuse power of authority            

3.       Equality/  no discrimination
Ø  The doctor should treat everyone equally without discriminating the lower classes. He looks down on the Kino, his family and the villagers. He refuses to treat Coyotito as he considers himself as a doctor and not a veterinarian. Moreover he is unwilling to treat the baby, because he knows that Kino has no money.
**Lesson Learnt:  do not be status conscious.

Ø  The pear buyers treat Kino as an uneducated person. They take advantage on him as they know that Kino does not have enough knowledge about selling pearl. They offered him a very low price as they claim that the pearl is far too large and clumsy to be a thing of any value except to be kept in a museum.
**Lesson Learnt:  do not take advantage on the under privileged.

Ø  The priest looks down upon the Mexican-Indians. The priest advices them to remain as they are and he discourages them. Their poverty made them lead a hardship life without education. Instead of helping the villagers to improve their lives, the priest teaches them to remain where they are, they must never want more.
**Lesson Learnt: everyone show be treated equally and given the same opportunities in life.

4.       Compassion  and love
Ø  The discovery of the pearl by Kino, has made him “every man’s enemy”. The intruders ransacked and set Kino’s house on fire. They also damaged his canoe which he uses as a source of living. His enemies had no compassion towards him.
**Lesson Learnt:  Compassion can ease the hatred and envy

Ø  Juana  is portrayed as a white character that is pure and good. She reveals  her unconditional love and compassion through her actions. She reacts quickly when Coyotito is stung by the scorpion. She stands by Kino even after she was bitten by Kino because of her attempt to throw away the pearl. She is still strong enough to stand by Kino and withstand the pain and sadness when Coyotito is killed.
**Lesson Learnt: truelove is unconditional

Ø  Kino is willing to do anything for the sake of his love towards his wife and son. He wants to improve the quality of his family. He thinks of his family first when he found the pearl.
**Lesson Learnt: love and have compassion towards our family first

5.       Misconception
Ø  In the beginning of the novel, the pearl that Kino finds is described as large as being incandescent and as “perfect as the moon”; by the end of the novel, Kino looks at the pearl as “ ugly, gray, like a malignant growth.” Human nature tendency towards greed, deception and evil can cause something good and beautiful to become something bad and evil in both physical and mental ways.
**Lesson Learnt:  an object’s “quality” depends on the way people look at it and how people treat it.

Ø  Kino has dreams and hopes to build a bright future after he has possessed the pearl. He wants to give education to Coyotito, marry Juana at a church, buy new clothes for his family and buy a rifle and harpoon.  He thought the pearl will bring brightness in his life but instead it brought the darkness he never dreamt of.
**Lesson Learnt: do not overestimate, consider the consequences.

Ø  Juana tries to throw the pearl which she assumes as an object that brings evil. However, Kino was so obsess of the pearl until he stops Juana and beat her up. Kino did not think rationally  and had misconception towards Juana’s sincere help. She is intelligent because she knows exactly what to do.
**Lesson Learnt: do not jump into conclusions, the importance of wisdom