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"The Pearl" by John Steinbeck

Book report on The Pearl by John Steinbeck.
Sjanger:Anmeldelse (bok, film...)Lastet opp:11.04.2002
Tema:John Steinbeck
The pearl
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"The Pearl" was written by John Steinbeck, who was born in Salinas, California, in 1902.


His first three books were financial failures, and he worked at various kinds of jobs to survive, including fruit picking.


His first success was "Tortilla Flat " (1935), followed by a number of other works.


His great masterpiece was "The Grapes of Wrath", which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940.


In 1962 Steinbeck was the sixth American who won the Nobel Prize for Literature.


He died in New York City, in December 1968.


Published :

It´s a Bantam Book, published by arrangement with The Viking Press. It was first published in WOMAN´S HOME COMPANION , in Dec.1945 , under the title " The Pearl of the World ".


Type of book:

It is a classic fable, sensitively told, in a beautiful language. " The Pearl" is a book to be read many times and be remeberd forever. " The Pearl - Steinbeck at the top of his form !" - The New York Times.



It´s a story about good luck and bad luck in a poor fisherman´s life. The setting of the story is located in Mexico , near the town La Paz.


It is the story of a fisherman who found a pearl beyond price , the Pearl of the World. With the pearl, he hoped to buy peace and happiness for himself, his wife and their little son. Instead he found that peace and happiness are not to be purchased. They are, themselves, pearls beyond price.


The most important persons:

Kino: a young fisherman and pearl diver, very poor, wanted to give his wife and child new clothes, good food, a new house etc. So he had to find a big pearl, a giant pearl. He had to find it soon. He was strong and his black hair hung over his brown forehead. His eyes were warm and fierce and bright and his moustache was thin and coarse.

Juana: Kino´s young wife.She had dark eyes and she was always looking at him when he awakened. She was a patient, fragile wife- but Kino often wondered at the iron will in his fragile wife. She was obedient, respectful, cheerful and patient, she could arch her back in child pain with hardly a cry. She could stand fatigue and hunger almost better than Kino himself. In the canoe she was like a strong man.

She always took Coyotito out of his hanging box and cleaned him and hammocked him in her shawl in a loop that placed him close to her breast. She sang softly an ancient song that had only three notes though endless variety of interval.

Coyotito: their baby -son , slept in a hanging box , was stung by a scorpion one morning.

Juan Toma's: Kino´s brother

Apolonia: His fat wife. They both had four children.

The doctor: he never came to the cluster of brush houses. Why should he, when he had more than he could do to take care of the rich people who lived in the stone and plaster houses of the town. He was stout, his voice was hoarse with the fat that pressed on his throat. His eyes rested in puffy little hammocks of flesh and his mouth drooped with discontent. He had a red watered silk dressing gown that had come from Paris, a silver tray, a silver chocolate pot, etc. The furnitures in his room were heavy and dark and gloomy. He had religious pictures hanging in his house, and a photograph of his dead wife.


Plot synopsis:

The fisherman Kino lived with his wife Juana and his little baby-son Coyotito in a brush hut near the Pacific coast.


One morning the baby was stung by a scorpion and it became very ill. The doctor refused to cure the baby because Kino was not able to pay. On the same day Kino found the largest pearl he had ever seen.When the doctor had heard of the pearl, he immediately rushed to Kino. Thinking that Coyotito was well again, Kino wanted to ignore the doctor. (Kino could not stand the race to which the doctor belonged to because this race had ever been exploiting his race). But at last the doctor could persuade Kino that the poison had gone inward and would strike soon. So Kino could not take his chance and he let the doctor heal the baby.In the following night someone tried to steal the pearl but Kino expelled the late guest by hurting him.

Juana often said," Let us throw the pearl back into the sea, otherwise it will destroy us." But her husband had many wishes. With the money he would get everything. He first wanted to get married in a church,Coyotito should be baptized and later he should go to school.


Soon Kino realized that he had many enemies and from time to time he could hear "the evil song" and then he was fierce and afraid.

The morning, on which Kino wanted to sell the pearl, was the morning of mornings, only comparable to the day, when the baby was born.

All people were waiting for him to start to the pearl-buyers.Kino´s brother, Juan Toma’s, declared him to be careful in selling the pearl, so that he would not get too little money for his treasure.

Kino stepped up to one of the pearl-buyers but he only offered one thousand pesos saying that his pearl was valueless, good enough to be exhibited in a museum, for the pearl was a curiosity.

Three other buyers were called, saying the same. But Kino realized that he was cheated and went home. The pearl buyers knew that they had played together too hard. Kino wanted to sell the pearl in another town.

One night Juana tried to throw it into the water, but her husband could save the pearl in the last moment.

When a dark figure attempted to steal the treasure, Kino killed the person unvoluntarily. Next day Kino´s enemies lit his brush hut. That is why he and Juana decided to leave their village; because no man in the town would trust that Kino had only killed the thief to save his own life.


For one day Kino, Juana and the baby hid themselves in the house of Juan Thoma's who told theories to the neighbours what could have happened with his brother and his family. In the dawn Kino and Juana went up to the North, to Loreto.When they took a rest, Kino saw two trackers and a dark horseman follow him. He knew that those trackers would never miss their trace. So Kino, Juana and Coyotito set off again turning their way to the granite mountains. Coming nearer,the way became steeper and steeper.Kino suggested that he would lead the trackers into the mountains, whereas Juana and the baby should hide.Later she should make for Loreto or Santa Rosalia.If he could escape, he would follow her and meet her there.


But Juana refused to do so and went on together with him.When their water knapsac k was empty, Kino looked for a fountain. Having found one, he saw the trackers again and he knew that they would reach that place till nightfall. Near the water Kino discovered little erosion caves where Juana and Coyotito hid.

"The only way to get rid of the trackers is to kill them, "Kino thought. Before the moon rose, Kino crept to the man with the rifle. He took long breaths to calm himself. (For a rolling pebble or a sigh would allert the watchers). Any sound that was not germane to the night would make them alert. When Kino was only a few metres from his enemy, he sprang. When he was in the mid-leap, the gun crashed and the pellet killed Coyotito.


In a cruel fight Kino murdered all his enemies.

When he returned to Juana, he saw Coyotito with his head shot away. He could hear the hysterical cry from the little cave , the cry of death.

When Juana and Kino reached La Paz, all people were present. Kino took the pearl in his hand, drew back his arm and flung the pearl with all his might. They saw the little splash in the distance.

When the pearl sank down to the bottom, the music of the pearl disappeared in Kino´s head.


Ideas, opinions and comments:

If this story is a parable, perhaps everyone takes his own meaning from it and reads his own life into it.

In the town of the fishermen they tell the story of the pearl, they tell of Kino,of his wife and of the baby, Coyotito. And because the story has been told so often, it has taken root in every man´s mind. It´s the story of a great pearl, how it was found and how it was lost again.


All retold tales are in people´s hearts, like this one. And there are only good and bad things and black and white things and good and evil things and there is no in-between anywhere. Being a pearl fisher in former days, was a hard and dangerous trade. Day after day, Kino went out in his boat, weighted himself around the waist with a big rock, and went down to the bottom of the sea, where the pearls were hidden. It was a trade which allowed a man only a few short years.


This book from John Steinbeck was a well written book, with not too light, and not too heavy litteratue in it. I enjoyed reading this book, and I hope that many others will read it to, and enjoy Steinbeck’s fine work like I did:)

Kommentarer fra brukere

En gang i blant skrives det kommentarer som mangler seriøsitet eller som ikke har noe med oppgavens tema å gjøre. Hjelp oss å rydde! Klikk 'varsle' nederst til høyre på de meldinger du mener må bort. Så fjerner redaksjonen kommentarene etter hvert.

03.11.2006 15:59

Trengte en liten oppsummering av boka... Så det fikk jeg her! Bra,,,.. Så slapp jeg å lese den selv..

08.01.2007 12:14

Slibrige kommentarer bes fjernet. Fikk en omtale av boka jeg leser for tiden. Vil benytte meg av stoffet, men foretrekker å skrive det hele selv uten klipp og lim.

26.03.2009 13:39


The rough life of fishermen

I have chosen to write about the fishing occupation. Since there is a huge difference from fishermen on the coast of Mexico and one on a huge fishing boat far out on the cold seas of the Bering Sea, I narrowed it down to the last mentioned (fishermen on big boats being out to seas for months). Let’s begin with building up a picture of the classic fisherman. If you are familiar with the series “the deadliest catch” on Discovery channel you would know the stereotypic view of the proud fisherman, but if you are not up after eleven I’m going to explain.
The fishermen I have focused on are fishermen living on catching crabs, since there are only two seasons on Discovery channel, one in October and one in January.
These men are spending weeks on the seas, having little sleep, working in blistering cold rain, having a risky job (Alaskan crab fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world). The fishermen earn as much as they bring in, so if they get a good catch the fishermen will earn enough to survive to next season, but if they get a bad catch they might not make it till next season. A stressful life you might say.

“The deadliest catch” shows the high-risk job of the crew on 24 different boats on the harsh Bering sea.
They shot the ups and downs of the seasons, the good catch where everyone walks away with wallets filled to the brim, the bad catch where the workers travel home with pockets empty. They also shot the deadly storms that smash the deck and kills the crabs already caught (the boat got be steady or else the crab will smash into each other and die, and you won’t get paid for dead crabs) and the clear days that drives the fishermen insane (one of the most hated color among the fishermen is light gray).
The show gives you a sight on the fishermen as hardworking, proud and honest. Putting them in danger to give their families a good life, but also gives a view of the fishermen as jolly and playful workers.
We also got a series of films as “The perfect storm” and “Jason Bourne”, but there is not much about their work ethics and life on board the boat.

How realistic is this description of the average fisherman?
Well, I doubt that he is as rough as the films and series make them look like. Of course they need to be tough to be able to make it at sea for that long, but the show does give a little too rough picture of the men working on these boats (if it were as hectic and dangerous as it seems they wouldn‘t need to film 24 boats to get enough clips for a season). We get a view of the fishermen as adventurous and brave, and that might have some truth behind it, but they travel back to the same spots each season so I doubt they get that much adventure. When it comes to bravery I think that depends, but I think cowards steer away from this occupation (I get this image of pirates living the sweet life, but that might just be me). I also get the feeling that the average fishermen is a family man, leaving with tears in his eyes when going out to sea to feed his family. Some of them might be like that, but you got to have some special connection to the sea to travel out there for weeks on end.
Some of them seem a little special. Since I don’t like the sea that much I would also call them slightly insane, but they also seem like a jolly crowd to be around. Joking with each other and sticking together during the trips, you might say that they are more like a big family then friends.
I did mix in some of my opinions in the description, but let’s hope it’s not too much influenced by my thoughts. Let’s begin with toughness. For how though is really a fisherman? I think he is rough on the outside but much softer on the inside, not being able to complain (knowing that it won’t get him home faster nor will it make the other crew members more happy). It is also a masculine occupation so they might feel the need to live up to that image. I also think they love their jobs, because making it on that boat for that long is not for someone that doesn’t like to be out at sea. And when you love your job you don`t go around saying it`s hard, so people might think you are tougher then you really are (just as if you saw a man bathing in an ice bath, you might think “tough guy”, but he might just love it and therefore seem rough).
Next up is bravery and lust for adventure. I think they are really brave having such a hard job, but that might just be because I don’t like the sea that much. Some of the fishermen might seek adventure in the beginning, but I think it is more about freedom than finding adventure.
A family man? Well, what can I say? Family men are in all shapes and forms so you can’t pick one group of occupations and say “that’s an occupation for family men”, so I don’t link being a good father and an occupation together (even though it might not be good for the child to be away from his dad for weeks).
I think you got to be a mad to work at sea, but it’s also a good kind of mad (a little insanity always creates people who are fun to be around). Being able to joke with each other and to have fun is important when you`re you’re locked on a boat for weeks with other people. You might need that extra little action to have fun when you’re not working.
So I think they have “pirate spirit” (Being jolly, tell old tales, you name it). I would have loved to stay around them to learn from them, but since I don’t find the ocean that luring I try to stay away from it.

14.06.2006 12:29


14.09.2006 20:35

det her var konge dårlig ass...

03.11.2006 16:00

Trengte en liten oppsummering av boka... Så det fikk jeg her! Bra,,,.. Så slapp jeg å lese den selv..

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