Have you ever heard the saying: “things are not always as they appear”? Have you ever thought that something represents one thing, but it really represents the exact opposite? In John Stienbeck’s novel, The Pearl, Kino (the protagonist) perceives the pearl to symbolize many things. In the novel, the pearl is an ambivalent symbol. .
Let us begin by analyzing how the pearl symbolizes good. The pearl symbolizes opportunity for Kino, Juana and Coyotito. Kino aspires for many things for his little family. “We will be married- in the church” (24). “We will have new clothes” (24). “My son will read and open the books, and my son will write and will know writing. And my son will make numbers and these things will make us free because he will know- he will know and through him we will know” (26). These were among the many things Kino wished to accomplish for his family. The pearl gave him the courage, and reinstalled in him the hope that he needed to go on. To clarify, the pearl helped him continue after the many attacks on him, as well as to become aware of the deceitful nature of the pearl buyers. “If that is so, then all of us have been cheated all of our lives” (53). .
Aside from good, the pearl symbolizes evil. The pearl came into Kino’s life and disrupted his innocent way of life. The pearl brought with it, misfortune. Kino was attacked several times, among the first he was severely injured. The pearl symbolizes greed and envy. It brought out the green-eyed monster in a lot of people, the doctor, the pearl buyers, but most importantly in Kino. Kino’s greed caused him to beat Juana. The pearl stole a man’s innocence. It bathed Kino with blood. It made a murderer out of an otherwise innocent pearl diver. “I was attacked in the dark, an in the fight I have killed a man” (64). Worst of all, the pearl brought with it death, the death of an innocent baby. Coyotito’s death was a result of Kino’s obsession with the pearl.