Book Review
by Cyndi L.
Grade 8

A pearl the size of a egg, perfectly round, shining and gleaming. While receiving one would be a blessing, it could also be a poison deadly to even the purest of souls. The author, John Steinbeck, has realistic yet imaginative books while featuring everyday characters. He was born on February 27th, 1902 in Salinas, California, and died on December 20, 1968. His books explore the themes of fate and injustice, and some of his best known works were The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. Some of the themes The Pearl features include greed vs. ambition, ignorance, and music.

            The theme greed vs. ambition is apparent through the story since his ambition at first, for the pearl slowly transformed into greed. He becomes so attached to the pearl that he refers it to his soul and would do anything to keep it. Ignorance is a weakness of Kino’s, since he didn’t have the best education. This allows people to trick him, since he’s uncertain of what he knows. Throughout the book, Kino hears different melodies according to how he’s feeling, how something makes him feel, and sometimes what’s about to happen.


The book circles around Kino, a poor fisherman living in the rural areas around the Gulf of Mexico . Diving for pearls was a common job, but finding something valuable was extremely rare. However, one day, when Kino finds the Pearl of the world (the pearl had a soft and beautiful melody), he had no idea how much it would change him. After the discovery, Kino’s ambition arises, he makes irrational promises based on everything the pearl can possibly provide him, instead of the few things that matter most—his wife and child.


The next morning he goes to sell the pearl only to be cheated by the buyers. Kino hears the song of evil because he doesn’t have the knowledge about pearls to know if it’s actually worth something (ignorance). He ends up not selling it and claims he will go to the capital, so he can get it’s full worth (Ambition). However, many people want it, so Kino instead decides to flee the village. He claims that the pearl is his soul and he can’t get rid of it; thus, his ambition turns to greed. It's clear that Kino becomes really attached to the pearl, and instead of saying he must not give up the pearl, for his family’s sake, like before, he’s now refusing to give it up because of greed within himself.

During their trip to escape, three people chase after them, much like hunters tracking an animal. After running from them for a while, Kino decides to finally confront them. At this point, his greed is gone, along with ambition. He fights for his family and not the pearl, which is symbolized through the song of family, which he now hears in places of the melody of the pearl. Unfortunately, it ends in defeat and Kino goes back to the village with his wife. He throws the pearl out to sea, and the song of the pearl lessens into a whisper, which indicates that his greed is gone. This is when the story ends.

While I think it’s impressive how developed the plot was considering the short amount of pages to develop it, I noticed that the events at the beginning where very predictable. There was a lot of foreshadowing of what was about to happen, and much of it was very obvious. However, towards the end, most of the events were unexpected, and it became really interesting. The hook at the beginning of the book was really good, and I like how fast the plot settled in at the beginning. The book demonstrated many other problems in civilization such as racism and classicism, and I like how much it recognized it. The references of Kino to animals is a creative way to describe Kino and human, but I don’t really like how the story ended. I would have made the ending more mild, but I like how the author used conventions of the genre, realism, and didn’t sugarcoat anything. Kino wasn’t as relatable as I wished he could be, since we don’t live in a place even remotely similar to the geographic setting or economic conditions Kino was in. I also don’t like how cliche the doctors character was; greedy, fat, cruel, and motivated only by profit. Overall though, the book was pretty good.


I learned how money can really twist and corrupt even the purest people, and the book explored some themes in everyday life. Since The Pearl was only 90 pages. I would recommend this to a reader that likes reading one-shots or short stories. This story was very innovative, and it demonstrated what I think is one of the biggest flaws in human nature.