Boekverslag : John Steinbeck - The Pearl
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Bookreview English

Author: John Steinbeck

Title: The Pearl

This novel by American writer John Steinbeck (1902-1968) is actually a retelling of a Mexican folk tale, the story of a poor fisherman, his wife and baby. When the fisherman, Kino, finds an extraordinary pearl he hopes it will bring comfort and health to his family, but soon he discovers that the pearl brings misfortune.

"Kino put his knife in, and the shell fell open. Kino lifted the flesh, and there it lay the great pearl, perfect as the moon. It was the greatest pearl in the world."

That 's the moment when he finds the pearl, it's the beginning of a long and sad story.

The story

The subjects are discovery (Kino finds a very big pearl, the pearl, in an oyster under the sea), adventure, travel (they have to take flight, because everybody wants to steel the pearl), disease (an scorpion has given Coyotito a sting), death (at the end of the book doesn't Coyotito live anymore).

I find it's an original story and it's very realistic, the author's view on the world (in this book) is rather objective. He is not pessimistic but he tells a story, a legend how it happened, he didn't add his own view of life. So he didn't criticise the society.

Point of view

The author himself seems to be the narrator of the story, he is outside the story, he's a storyteller. He describes all what happens, all the facts. There is a little (non-remarkable) distance between the reader and the personages. I think he has chosen that point of view because the reader can follow all the facts.


The nature of the main character: it's Kino, he always feels when something will happen, he want that Coyotito will go to school with the money they will receive from the pearl. So he will protect his family and the health of Juana, his wife, and the baby. He feels himself responsible to them. Kino is a very good, honest man and he wants that everybody is justice and honest.

I really notice an evolution in the main character. First he always said he wants to keep the pearl and he wouldn't see it brought misfortune but his wife Juana knew it from the beginning. At the end of the story this happened: "Kino drew back his arm and flung the pearl with all his might in the sea." But I think he knew it was enough when Coyotito has given up life, that it must end al the misery with that pearl. First it had a giant value to him, 'the pearl became his soul' but after the death of his little son, it hadn't any value anymore, it was a bad, ugly pearl.

The problem they are confronted with wasn't first a problem. They were very happy with the big pearl but soon they noticed it brought misfortune. When Kino wanted to keep the pearl for life, he must run away with his family but the misfortune followed them! At the end of the story, is the problem solved. Kino and Juana threw the pearl back in the sea, but their child was dead.

Time/ Setting

The story is told chronologically without flashbacks, there aren't many dialogues only when it was necessary. The chapters were not so long, just long enough. All things happened on the seaside in a warm country, one of the last chapters passed in the mountains.

This is a Mexican story so everything took place in Mexico, years ago.


Steinbeck has rewritten this legend (very) objective; it was a tragical, realistic story with nothing humoristic in it with sometimes a few metaphors.


This book has touched me, when the baby gave up life I was sad, I thought it would end well, not so tragically. It was a simple but beautiful story and I liked to read it very much!

I recommend this book to everybody.

It fascinated me all the time and the last chapters were very exciting.
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