The Pearl – Greed Ever since Midas’ lust for gold, it appears to be that manhas acquired a greed and appetite for wealth. Juana, the Priest,and the doctor have all undergone a change due to money. Theyare all affected by their hunger for wealth and inturn are thebase for their own destruction, and the destruction of society.Steinbeck’s “The Pearl” is a study of man’s self destruction through greed.
Juana, the faithful wife of Kino, a paltry peasant man, had lived a spiritual life for what had seemed like as long as shecould remember. When her son Coyito fell ill from the bite of ascorpion, she eagerly turned towards the spiritual aspects oflife. Beginning to pray for her son’s endangered life. Thedoctor who had resided in the upper-class section of the town,refused to assistant the child, turning them away when theyarrived at the door. Lastly they turned to the sea to seek theirfortune. When Juana set sight on the “Pearl of The World.” shefelt as though all her prayers had been answered, if she couldhave foreseen the future what she would have seen would have beena mirror image of her reality.
Juana’s husband was caught in a twisted realm of mirrors, and they were all shattering one byone. In the night he heard a “sound so soft that it might havebeen simply a thought..” and quickly attacked the trespasser.This is where the problems for Juana and her family began. Thefear that had mounted in Kino’s body had taken control over hisactions. Soon even Juana who had always had faith in herhusband, had doubted him greatly.
“It will destroy us all” sheyelled as her attempt to rid the family of the pearl had failed.Kino had not listened however, and soon Juana began to lose herspiritual side and for a long time she had forgotten her prayersthat had at once meant so much to her. She had tried to helpKino before to much trouble had aroused, only to discover thatshe was not competent enough to help. A hypocrathic oath is said before each medical student isgranted a Doctors degree. In the oath they swear to aid the ill,and cure the injured. In the village of La Paz there lived adoctor who had earned his wealth by helping those that were illand could afford his services.
Not once in his long career wouldhe have dared refuse to aid a wealthy lawyer or noblemen.However when Kino and the group of money hungry peasants arrivedat his door with a poisoned child he had refused them entrysaying “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 beento Paris and had enjoyed the splendors of the world, andtherefore he wouldn’t be seen dealing with the less fortunate ashe knew that the less fortunate would surely always be just that-less fortunate. However it seemed that he had been stereotypicalof the less fortunate, as he soon discovered when hearing of agreat pearl discovered by the peasants who had knocked upon hisdoor earlier that day. A hunger for wealth was what pushed himto visit the peasants house and aid their destitute son. Howeverhe had already ended Coyito’s life without knowing he’d done so,for if he had administered aid to Coyito when they were first atthe doctors door, Kino would have no reason to seek his fortunein the ocean, and would not be led down the road to hardships.One might think that a doctor, one who has the image of beingpassive, and caring should not stoop to such a level.
When one is down on their luck, chances are they will turnto superstition in hope to acquire what it is that they wouldwant to achieve. A good example of this would be a good luckcharm such as a rabbit’s foot. In La Paz the peasants wereuneducated and probably had never heard of a superstition. Thepeasants only reliability, there only scapegoat was God. God hadalways been their to aid them in there times of need. The firstreaction of Juana when seeing the scorpion is a good example ofspirituality, rather than attempt to kill the scorpion she beganto pray to God for safety.
In La Paz the only form of God that the peasants knew wasthat of the Priest of the church. To the peasants the Priest wasso God-like that they were unable to see any faults in hisactions. However the reader is able to determine that the Priestis abusing his position in society. In order to receive thesacraments the person requesting the sacrament must “donate” asmall amount of money to the church. Whether this is correct ornot is a matter of opinion.
The church definetly needs fundingbut the peasants are unable to donate these funds, but, does thatmake them unable to receive the sacraments should they want toacquire them? The Priest is so set on achieving money and socialstatus 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’smanifestation for wealth and property leads to the selfdestruction of man, both mentally, and physically. The Priest ofLa Paz, The doctor, and Juana were all affected by the affects ofgreed. Whether they are striving for wealth or are in the pathof those that are, they are all equally affected. The story ofMidas lives on as a caution to those who crave the warmth andcomfort of money.
Beckoning to those who struggle to achievewealth, and hoping that they will respond, and possibly not putwealth on the top shelf of life.