The people we interact within our societies today are greedy, materialistic, hypocritical, and exploitative. In John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, the doctor, the priest, the pearl buyers, and even Kino himself are portrayed to be morally decadent as discussed below.
In a society inhabited by exploitative individuals, the less fortunate suffer. This happens when individuals with power take advantage of the powerless and poor. The doctor is more concerned with making money than saving the lives of poor people. The beggars knew the doctor’s sins, appetite for money, and even his ignorance and avarice. He is said to carry clumsy abortions for they usually saw his corpses going to the church. Kino’s news of the great pearl finds the doctor attending to an old woman whose sickness is old age but the doctor cannot accept for he wants money from the old lady.
The priest also exploits his congregation. When he learns of Kino’s great pearl, he sets off to the brush houses. He flirts with Kino that he was named after a great man in the books, one who tamed the deserts and sweetened people’s hearts. His interest is in the pearl and he wonders whether he had married Kino and Juana in his church and if he had baptized Coyotito. His interest is in the church renovations and repairs and he knew how ignorant these Indians were for a desperate fisherman had ended up donating his pearl to the church. He, therefore, hopes Kino will remember to give thanks to the giver of his fortune and also pray for guidance in the future. People should live in harmony and peace rather than exploiting the ones they live with.
Most characters in our societies are materialistic and they aim to acquire possession by all means. This is materialism. Kino guards his pearl jealously because in it he can see the liberation of his family. In the pearl he could see his family have new clothes, they would be married in the church, and Coyotito would be baptized now that they could pay. He would buy himself a rifle and his son would open and read the books by going to school. He protects the pearl by killing anyone who attempted to steal his fortune. He even slaps and kicks his wife Juana at one point for wanting to throw away the pearl into the sea for she saw it as evil. The trackers who hunt Kino into the mountains are not spared either for Kino is determined to sell his pearl.
The pearl buyers are also materialistic for they buy pearls from fishermen at lower prices and later sell highly to get their profits. The narrator says that they waited in chairs for pearls to come in as they cackled, fought, shouted, and threatened until they reached the lowest price a fisherman would not stand. The news of Kino’s fortune reaches them and their eyes squint as their fingers burn a little. They all want to take the place of their patron and they know this is their opportunity to start afresh. When Kino visits them, they conspire, offering the least amount to him to maximize on the profit they would later make once they sold his pearl. Materialism leads to avarice, a character that has brought more harm than good in our environment.
Hypocrisy is another vice evident in our societies and John Steinbeck’s in La Paz. The pearl merchants are hypocritical for they pretend not interested in Kino’s pearl but in the real sense itching to have it. One says his pearl is too large and was like a fool’s gold for it was too large and there was no market for such things. He calls it clumsy and says perhaps a museum would take it for 1000 pesos. Another merchant says better pearls are those made of paste and Kino’s pearl was soft and chalky and would lose its color and die in few months offering only 500 pesos. Disappointed, Kino grabs the pearl form the dealer and thrusting it in his shirt pocket, he walks away. No wonder trackers are sent after Kino to steal his pearl.
The doctor is hypocritical for when Kino and Juana go to him for Coyotito’s medical attention, he turns them away after enquiring from his servant whether they had money. The servant lies that the doctor had been called to attend to a serious case, Kino buries his head in shame as they go back home. When the news of Kino’s pearl reaches him, he quickly owns Kino as his client. He pays him a visit in the brush houses, offering to treat Coyotito and wait for money later. It is good to seek wealth justifiably rather than be hypocritical and exploit the little fortunes our friends land themselves in.
Greed is another vice that has made our societies morally decadent. The doctor is greedy when he learns of Kino’s pearl. He is quick to say he was treating Kino’s son of a scorpion sting even though he had earlier on refused to treat Coyotito for they had no money. He also had mocked the Indians saying he wasn’t treating insect bites. Prompted by the money Kino would get after selling the pearl, he visits Kino to treat Coyotito who as already well. He tries to make him more ill and arrives an hour later to contain the poison. Avarice has turned him into an ill-minded person.
The news of the pearl finds the priest in his garden and he gives thought to the church repairs. He also wonders the value of Kino’s great peal and also whether he had baptized Coyotito and married off Juana and Kino in church. He visits Kino and blinds him that he was named after a great man in the books who sweetened people’s minds and tamed the deserts. He also reminds Kino that he should not forget to give thanks to the giver and also pray for guidance in the future. All this is because he wants part of the money after Kino sells his pearl. It is uncouth to be greedy for too much avarice leads to evil.
It is indeed true that the behavior exhibited by Kino, the doctor, the priest, pearl buyers, and even the beggars justify that La Paz is morally decadent. Avarice has turned good individuals to negative minded hypocrites who worship possessions over morality.
May 15, 2020
May 4, 2020
June 6, 2020
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