Monday 19 August 2013

Steinbeck, John "The Pearl"

Steinbeck, John "The Pearl" - 1947

I absolutely love John Steinbeck. Whether it is a large saga or a short story, he manages to describe the characters so well, to let them come alive, to give you the feeling you are there. I have never lived in the United States, I have actually never been to the United States but the way he describes it, it makes me feel like I have. Well, at least during his times. And he also describes the landscape so vividly, it feels almost like looking at a painting only someone is explaining it to you.

The story is a sad tragedy, telling of the problems of the indigenous inhabitants of Mexico, how they have to struggle through their daily lives and yet never can hope to get anywhere. Even when they seem to find a treasure, others manage to ruin it for them. Another story about how the invaders exploited the natives. Apparently an old Mexican folktale, the story rings true to your mind.

This story is a parable, full of symbolism. We have the pearl fisher and his family, we have the evil that threatens them in many forms, we have the richness that is about to come to them but taken away. We have the pearl telling its own story. It changes its music that you can almost hear, it changes its soul the same way as the story takes its path from the beginning to the end. The characters change throughout the book as well as the relationship between the characters develop, an interesting view into the lives of this culture.

A very powerful story, as anything by this fabulous author who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception". Well deserved.

From the back cover:

"In the town they tell the story of the great pearl - how it was found and how it was lost again. They tell of Kino, the fisherman, and of his wife, Juana, and of the baby, Coyotito. And because the story has been told so often, it has taken root in every man's mind."

Find the other John Steinbeck books I read here.

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.


  1. Read it many years ago when i was in school. We're from California and whenever we would go to Monterey I would think of Steinbeck's Cannery Row.

  2. I can imagine. Haven't read "Cannery Row" but I wuold probably think about my favourite "The Grapes of Wreath", as well.

    Thanks for your inputs, I very much appreciate them.

    Have a good day,