People of an inferior race can be overlooked and even denied freedom and access to basic needs. The superior and high class are advantaged with possessions and power exploiting and discriminating against the poor. In John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, colonialists like the doctor, priest, and pearl buyers take advantage of the ignorant Kino, La Paz residents, and fishermen as discussed below.
Where exploitation thrives, people suffer the consequences of their ignorance. When Kino goes to sell his pearl in La Paz, he is offered 1000 pesos, a price he declines for he knew the value of his pearl. Another buyer offers 1500 pesos after realizing Kino would not sell it for they wished to get their hands on pearls at lower prices. Dissatisfied, Kino picks up his pearl swearing to follow his dreams in the city. All the pearl buyers were agents imposed in different offices by one man, waiting in chairs for fishermen to bring their pearls, shouting, and threatening until they reached the lowest price. Fishermen thus lost their pearls to greedy, callous, and exploitative pearl buyers.
Ignorance is a disease. The doctor is educated for he has knowledge of medicine and takes advantage of Kino’s ignorance and lack of knowledge poisoning Coyotito. Kino hopes his son will go to school once he sells his pearl. He believes Coyotito will open and read the books and break the pot that they are held in, write and count numbers for those things will make him know and through him, they will also know. The priest also reminds Kino to give thanks to God enticing him that he was named after a great man in the Bible, elating Kino’s hopes that one day, education would liberate their trapped and trampled souls.
Residents of La Paz are racially discriminated by the Spanish doctor and the priest. The Indians live in brush huts near the sea, eating the same meals every day while the doctor lives in a luxurious and prestigious house fenced with stone, eating well and drinking from an expensive china mug. The priest had never stepped in the brush houses but upon hearing that Kino had found the pearl of the world, he makes the trip, for he wants a share in Kino’s fortune. Neighbors tell Juana that the doctor would not come to them for they were poor and he was of a different race which for over 400 years had beaten, robbed and starved Kino,s race despising them, talking to them like simple animals making Kino’s people angry, weak and frustrated all the time.
Kino and his people are poor. The Indians made a little living from fishing and pearl harvesting for they lacked advanced diving equipment. Kino uses ropes and stone with an old canoe inherited from his ancestors, lives in a brush house with a simple meal of corn cakes and sauce, he offers misshapen seed pearls wrapped in old clothe rendered valueless as payment for Coyotito’s treatment, revealing that he could not afford his son’s treatment. In the pearl Kino finds, he can see Juana and him kneeling before the alter now that they could afford to pay. The priest had never bothered to baptize Coyotito before since they were too poor to pay and the pearl was their ray of hope for it would open their locked opportunities, their only opportunity to change their state of life.
In conclusion, societies that thrive in exploitation, racial discrimination, lack of knowledge, and poverty, the less fortunate suffer ignorantly for their voices are insignificant.
Mr. Masenge is an English and Literature teacher at Bishop Mugendi High School in Kisii County.
GET IN TOUCH
Location: Adlife Plaza, 8th Floor, Yaya Center, Nairobi – Kenya.
P.O Box 1760 – 00100 Nairobi.
Office: +254 746 896 669.
Tel: +254 733 633462.
- August 5, 2020