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A Theme of Greed in The Pearl by John Steinbeck

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"In John Steinbeck's 'The Pearl,' the discovery of a magnificent pearl sets in motion a series of events that lead to the downfall of Kino, his wife Juana, and their infant son Coyotito. This pearl, initially seen as a symbol of hope and opportunity, quickly becomes a source of greed and destruction. Kino's relentless pursuit of wealth ultimately brings darkness into their lives, leading to the loss of their property, family, and even the tragic death of Coyotito. Steinbeck skillfully illustrates how the allure of money can corrupt even the most well-intentioned individuals, driving them to desperate and selfish acts.

The novel serves as a stark reminder that greed knows no bounds and can fracture personal relationships and destabilize society at large. Steinbeck's portrayal of this universal theme underscores the idea that no one is immune to the seductive power of greed. 'The Pearl' serves as a cautionary tale, urging readers to reflect on the destructive potential of unchecked desires and the consequences they may bring."

Table of contents

Introduction, “the pearl”: theme of greed, works cited.

  • Bloom, H. (Ed.). (2003). John Steinbeck's "The Pearl". Infobase Publishing.
  • Campbell, M. (2016). Greed in John Steinbeck's "The Pearl". The Explicator, 74(2), 122-124.
  • Davis, R. L. (2015). John Steinbeck's "The Pearl" and His Mexican American Characters. American Literary Realism, 47(1), 39-52.
  • Gelfant, B. (Ed.). (1988). John Steinbeck: The contemporary reviews. Cambridge University Press.
  • Godfrey, P. C. (2012). Steinbeck and the Environment: Interdisciplinary Approaches. University of Alabama Press.
  • Hughes, R. S. (1997). The pearl: Critical perspectives. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Meyer, M. J. (2017). The Value of Pearl: A New Reading of John Steinbeck’s “The Pearl”. Journal of Modern Literature, 40(1), 108-120.
  • Nigro, D. A. (1994). John Steinbeck and Edward F. Ricketts: The shaping of a novelist. University of Minnesota Press.
  • Shillinglaw, S., & Benson, J. (Eds.). (2014). John Steinbeck: Centennial Reflections by American Writers. University of Nevada Press.
  • Winters, D. (Ed.). (1998). John Steinbeck: A collection of critical essays. Prentice Hall.

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greed essay in the pearl

Home / Essay Samples / Literature / Books / The Pearl

The Pearl Novel: How Greed Can Deteriorate a Person

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  • Words: 569 (1 page)

The Pearl Novel: How Greed Can Deteriorate a Person

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Works cited

  • Steinbeck, J. (1947). The Pearl. Viking Press.
  • Bevington, D. (1989). The Structure of “The Pearl”. Journal of Modern Literature, 16(1), 1-14.
  • Demott, R. (1977). Of Men and Their Making: The Non-Fiction of John Steinbeck. Michigan Quarterly Review, 16(4), 311-328.
  • DeMott, R. (1995). John Steinbeck and the Critics. University of New Mexico Press.
  • Gregg, R. (2014). Steinbeck's "The Pearl" and the American Dream. American Literary Realism, 46(2), 123-135.
  • Hoover, C. (2011). John Steinbeck's "The Pearl": A Study Guide from Gale's "Short Stories for Students" Volume 25, Chapter 15. Gale Cengage Learning.
  • Hughes, R. (1997). Steinbeck and the problem of God. Journal of American Studies, 31(2), 201-221.
  • Kemp, G. (1978). The Crucifixion in Steinbeck's 'The Pearl'. Studies in Short Fiction, 15(2), 199-203.
  • Lindstrom, B. (2000). The Music of “The Pearl”: A Study of Tone Poems. Steinbeck Review, 1(2), 87-104.
  • Parini, J. (1995). John Steinbeck: A Biography. Macmillan.

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The pearl: theme of greed.

  • Word Count: 477
  • Approx Pages: 2
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  • Grade level: High School
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            Show how the theme of Greed is illustrated through the characters and events in the Pearl.              John Steinbeck develops the theme of greed through the characters and events in " the Pearl". Ever since the finding of the pearl, it appears to me that the greed of man had grown readily throughout time.              When the news of the pearl reached the town, everybody starts to fantasize and dream of the "impossible". "Every man suddenly became related to Kino's pearl. From here. We could see the power of "the pearl", the power of wealth and the greed of the people.              Human greed is illustrated through the character, Kino. He is driven by greed, so much so that he could even see "dream forms" in the pearl. He could see through the pearl, the image of them getting married in the church, and Coyotito wore "a blue sailor suit from the United States", which was the model of a trend. When he wants something, he did not stop there, he continued to dream of the impossible, for "humans are never satisfied". He even wanted a "rifle", which was once considered impossible to them. Instead of thinking how the pearl might help to save the "needy" from starvation and instead of the thoughts of donating the pearl to the church like what his fellowmen and forefathers had done, he only thought of how the pearl could benefit him and his family, of how they could break out of poverty, break out of their present social status. Even in his sleep, he "dreamed that Coyotito could read, that one of his own people could tell him the truth of things", showing how greed could overcome him even during his resting period.              The doctor is an embodiment of greed. We get the first impression that he is manifested with greed through his mind set of a "civilised living". His idea of a "civilized living" meant, "on a small income he had been able to keep a mistress and eat in restaurants". As a doctor, it should be his duty and responsibility to provide utmost care and concern to his patients and treat them if it were within his capability regardless of their social status.

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1. the pearl:theme of greed.

greed essay in the pearl

Show how the theme of Greed is illustrated through the characters and events in the Pearl. John Steinbeck develops the theme of greed through the characters and events in " the Pearl". ... We could see the power of "the pearl", the power of wealth and the greed of the people. ... He is driven by greed, so much so that he could even see "dream forms" in the pearl. ... John Steinbeck had effectively made use of the characters and the events to illustrate the theme of Greed. ...

  • Word Count: 498
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2. The Pearl

greed essay in the pearl

The Pearl by John Steinbeck Does wealth always lead to happiness? ... The theme of the novel is that human happiness cannot be bought with material wealth. ... When Kino found the pearl he believed that the potential wealth from the pearl's sale would bring them a better life in the form of material items. ... But, the price of the pearl is what destroyed it. Thoughts of greed and money overtook his thoughts of family and love. ...

  • Word Count: 635
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3. Novel Comparison: Zorba the Greek and The Pearl

Power is manifested within the texts in many ways such as religion, economic status and a sharp contrast of different types of characters, some driven by greed while the others driven by compassion. In Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek and in Steinbeck's, The Pearl, the role of power is an essential theme. ... The Pearl and Zorba the Greek are to novels with one very similar theme, the role of power. ... Juana says it best, "The pearl is like a sin! ... But after and in depth study of each novel, the role of power becomes an essential theme in both works. ...

  • Word Count: 1428
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4. Id Ego and Superego

greed essay in the pearl

It is about basic human needs and desires such as hunger, greed, lust, safety, etc. ... also had an example of this theme. ... had many examples of this theme. ... Pearl, John, and the Father would fall into the superego category. Whenever the preacher was about to kill the little boy, Pearl told him she knows where the money is. ...

  • Word Count: 851

5. The Power of Friendship in Huc

greed essay in the pearl

In his novel, Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain infers many themes. Like John Steinbeck's The Pearl, which was a morality tale about greed, Huckleberry Finn is also a morality tale, but it is a morality tale of human connection and the power of friendship. ... Kino showed the same kind of anxiety in The Pearl as the people hunting him grew closer. Twain also uses diction to certify his theme. ... The theme of the power of friendship is woven into the novel in many ways. ...

  • Word Count: 887
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6. The 1920's in the United States and Canada

greed essay in the pearl

The American dream is a comparable theme shared between both time periods. ... This similarity is presented as a theme for that decade and a compass for its people. ... Secondly, the trend in The Great Gatsby not only shows the wealth and greed for the upper class but also it differentiates the social classes. ... They have a similar theme of the American dream, from their period. ... This similarity is presented as a theme for that era and a cipher for its people. ...

  • Word Count: 834

greed essay in the pearl

Some of these themes are more obvious than others. ... The author is usually referred to as the Gawain poet or the Pearl poet. ... "Pearl", "Patience", and "Purity" were all with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the same manuscript. This is the reason the author is named as the Pearl poet, in addition to the Gawain poet. ... Lustful greed penetrates Gawain's shield during the time with Lady Bercilak. ...

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8. An Examination of Symbolism in Sir Gawain and the Green Knig

greed essay in the pearl

By devoting nearly 100 lines to a painstaking description of the Green Knight's appearance, the Pearl Poet leaves little doubt as to the importance of the knight's color. ... In other contexts, green could represent sourness, jealousy, immaturity, greed and inconstancy in love. It is often associated with spring, and hunters wear green as camouflage. (1) According to Twomey's explanation of the Pearl Poet's use of the color green, one may interpret the symbolism of the color as a foreshadowing of upcoming events in the story. ...

  • Word Count: 2124
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9. Steinbecks Novels

greed essay in the pearl

Ever since Midas' lust for gold, it appears to be that man has acquired a greed and appetite for wealth. ... Steinbeck's The Pearl is a study of man's self destruction through greed. ... He had dreams and goals that all depended on the pearl. ... The priest of La Paz, the doctor, and Juana were all affected by the effects of greed. ... The major themes identified by commentators in Of Mice and Men are friendship and isolation, hope and futility. ...

  • Word Count: 4593
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