BOOK REVIEW: THE PEARL by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) is one of America's greatest writers and is a Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1962. I must confess, though, that this is the first time I read a book by him, all thanks to a fellow book lover and book blogger who kept on raving about how wonderful a writer John Steinbeck is. I bought my copy of this book for only Php17.00 from Booksale, but certainly this book is worth a thousand more than its price.

I did a little bit of research about John Steinbeck and learned that this author is known for the social criticisms inherent in most of his works, and was even branded to be subversive. These social criticisms are likewise central in The Pearl , where Steinbeck tells the story of a pearl diver named Kino and how his life is affected after finding the greatest pearl of all time. Reading The Pearl gives out a feeling of reading a parable or a fable, though I must say that the story is more than just a fable. It is a social commentary on the great chasm that divides the rich from the poor and the evils of greed. It portrays a touching story of how riches can change a man and how it can give and destroy peace. It tells about the true value of riches and where they can be found.

Kino, a pearl diver, is in constant search for that great pearl that can bring him, his wife and his little child the wealth that can save them from abject poverty. This great search was even more fired when Kino's baby who was bit by a scorpion was refused medical aid by known healers because they cannot pay the medical fees. When Kino finally found the Pearl, his life changed drastically and it seems that wealth and comfort are now within his reach. However, his life was also caught in line because more and more people have become interested in acquiring for themselves the Pearl. Add to that the very low valuation given by money changers on the pearl, because they wanted to short change and trick the seemingly naive young pearl diver. Kino and his family are then forced by circumstances to escape their place and go to the hinterlands in order to look for the best price for the Pearl.

What I love most about The Pearl are the various symbolisms and interpretations it connotes. It is a story worth discussing. The ending may not have surprised me that much, but I love how such conclusion affected the whole direction of the story. I love how The Pearl has made me think. After all, this is what good literature is all about – to make you think.

4 stars.

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