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TESTS AND ANSWERS
11. There are two main biological comparisons in The Pearl. One compares the effect of the pearl to the scorpion's poison at the beginning of Chapter III. This comparison suggests that greed and evil are possible within each person and can come to the surface under certain circumstances. The pearl is a catalyst that brings out such characteristics in people. Steinbeck might even be suggesting that the tendency to greed and evil is inborn, a part of human nature.
The other biological comparison equates the town with a "colonial animal." This metaphor reinforces Steinbeck's claim that humans, as well as other species, are interconnected. Nothing happens to one person (a part of the village) alone. For example, Kino alone finds the pearl, but the pearl affects everyone in the village. The village itself behaves like a single organism whose single parts (each inhabitant) react to a stimulus and together contribute to the reaction of the whole (the village).
12. The greed that you witness throughout the novel, along with Kino's final
gesture of renunciation, certainly suggest that the novel can be read
as a warning about the burden of money and possessions. The valuable pearl
brings Kino and his family to destruction. There are, however, points
of conflicting evidence to suggest the beneficial aspects of material
wealth. For example, Steinbeck suggests that greed is part of human nature
and that it has both good and bad aspects. Greed makes a man look beyond
himself to larger possibilities, as well as making him greedy covet the
things of others. On the positive side, it is a good sign that human beings
are always eager for improvements in their lives. This helps to assure
the progress of humanity.
As a second example, Kino is humiliated and powerless in the face of the people of Spanish descent. If Steinbeck were trying to make antimaterialism his major theme, he probably would not have made Kino's fear and rage seem so justified a response to oppression.
13. Technically, the story of Kino is told by a third-person, omniscient narrator. This narrator speaks from a distance, especially in the introduction and at the end, to give the feeling of an old, retold tale. In other words, rather than hearing a firsthand story that the narrator has personally experienced, you are hearing a story told to the narrator. As the novel progresses, the point of view sometimes becomes more immediate in order to take the reader into the action (the way a movie camera does when it zooms in close). It seems as if the narrator is relating the events as they are happening. In Chapter VI, for example, you seem to be directly involved in the flight of Kino and Juana. Throughout The Pearl, the narrator moves back and forth between "close-up" action and distant storytelling.