Ever since Midas’ lust for gold, it appears to be that man
has acquired a greed and appetite for wealth. Juana, the Priest,
and the doctor have all undergone a change due to money. They
are all affected by their hunger for wealth and inturn are the
base for their own destruction, and the destruction of society.

Steinbeck’s “The Pearl” is a study of man’s self destruction
through greed.

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Juana, the faithful wife of Kino, a paltry peasant man, had
lived a spiritual life for what had seemed like as long as she
could remember. When her son Coyito fell ill from the bite of a
scorpion, she eagerly turned towards the spiritual aspects of
life. Beginning to pray for her son’s endangered life. The
doctor who had resided in the upper-class section of the town,
refused to assistant the child, turning them away when they
arrived at the door. Lastly they turned to the sea to seek their
fortune. When Juana set sight on the “Pearl of The World.” she
felt as though all her prayers had been answered, if she could
have foreseen the future what she would have seen would have been
a mirror image of her reality. Juana’s husband was caught in a
twisted realm of mirrors, and they were all shattering one by
one. In the night he heard a “sound so soft that it might have
been simply a thought…” and quickly attacked the trespasser.

This is where the problems for Juana and her family began. The
fear that had mounted in Kino’s body had taken control over his
actions. Soon even Juana who had always had faith in her
husband, had doubted him greatly. “It will destroy us all” she
yelled as her attempt to rid the family of the pearl had failed.

Kino had not listened however, and soon Juana began to lose her
spiritual side and for a long time she had forgotten her prayers
that had at once meant so much to her. She had tried to help
Kino before to much trouble had aroused, only to discover that
she was not competent enough to help.

A hypocrathic oath is said before each medical student is
granted a Doctors degree. In the oath they swear to aid the ill,
and cure the injured. In the village of La Paz there lived a
doctor who had earned his wealth by helping those that were ill
and could afford his services. Not once in his long career would
he have dared refuse to aid a wealthy lawyer or noblemen.

However when Kino and the group of money hungry peasants arrived
at his door with a poisoned child he had refused them entry
saying “Have I nothing better to do than cure insect bites for
‘little Indians’? I am a doctor, not a veterinary.” for the
doctor had known that the peasants hadn’t any money. He had been
to Paris and had enjoyed the splendors of the world, and
therefore he wouldn’t be seen dealing with the less fortunate as
he knew that the less fortunate would surely always be just that-
less fortunate. However it seemed that he had been stereotypical
of the less fortunate, as he soon discovered when hearing of a
great pearl discovered by the peasants who had knocked upon his
door earlier that day. A hunger for wealth was what pushed him
to visit the peasants house and aid their destitute son. However
he had already ended Coyito’s life without knowing he’d done so,
for if he had administered aid to Coyito when they were first at
the doctors door, Kino would have no reason to seek his fortune
in the ocean, and would not be led down the road to hardships.

One might think that a doctor, one who has the image of being
passive, and caring should not stoop to such a level.

When one is down on their luck, chances are they will turn
to superstition in hope to acquire what it is that they would
want to achieve. A good example of this would be a good luck
charm such as a rabbit’s foot. In La Paz the peasants were
uneducated and probably had never heard of a superstition. The
peasants only reliability, there only scapegoat was God. God had
always been their to aid them in there times of need. The first
reaction of Juana when seeing the scorpion is a good example of
spirituality, rather than attempt to kill the scorpion she began
to pray to God for safety.

In La Paz the only form of God that the peasants knew was
that of the Priest of the church. To the peasants the Priest was
so God-like that they were unable to see any faults in his
actions. However the reader is able to determine that the Priest
is abusing his position in society. In order to receive the
sacraments the person requesting the sacrament must “donate” a
small amount of money to the church. Whether this is correct or
not is a matter of opinion. The church definetly needs funding
but the peasants are unable to donate these funds, but, does that
make them unable to receive the sacraments should they want to
acquire them? The Priest is so set on achieving money and social
status that he puts aside the real reason one becomes a Priest-
to help, and teach the word of God.

In “The Pearl”, Steinbeck expresses the fact that man’s
manifestation for wealth and property leads to the self
destruction of man, both mentally, and physically. The Priest of
La Paz, The doctor, and Juana were all affected by the affects of
greed. Whether they are striving for wealth or are in the path
of those that are, they are all equally affected. The story of
Midas lives on as a caution to those who crave the warmth and
comfort of money. Beckoning to those who struggle to achieve
wealth, and hoping that they will respond, and possibly not put
wealth on the top shelf of life.