The Pearl by John Steinbeck - (Hardcover)
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"Book Synopsis The Pearl is a novella by the American author John Steinbeck. The story, first published in 1947, follows a pearl diver, Kino, and explores man's purpose as well as greed, defiance of societal norms, and evil. Steinbeck's inspiration was a Mexican folk tale from La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, which he had heard in a visit to the formerly pearl-rich region in 1940. The Pearl, which takes place in La Paz, Baja California Sur, begins with a description of the seemingly ideal family life of the poor pearl fisherman Kino, his wife Juana, and their infant son, Coyotito. Kino watches as Coyotito sleeps, but sees a scorpion crawl down the rope that holds the hanging box where Coyotito sleeps. Kino attempts to catch the scorpion, but Coyotito bumps the rope, and the scorpion falls onto him. Although Kino kills the scorpion, it stings Coyotito. Juana and Kino, accompanied by their neighbors, go to see the local doctor, who refuses to treat Coyotito because Kino cannot pay enough to sustain the greedy doctor's lifestyle, and because the doctor holds racist views towards the poor Amerindians. Kino and Juana take Coyotito down near the sea, where Juana uses a seaweed poultice on Coyotito's shoulder, which is now swollen. Kino dives for oysters from his canoe, hoping to find a pearl he can sell to pay the doctor. He finds a very large oyster which yields an immense pearl, and which he dubs ""The Pearl of the World"". The news that Kino has found an immense pearl travels swiftly through the town of La Paz. Kino's neighbors begin to feel bitter toward him for his good fortune, but neither Kino nor Juana realizes this feeling that they have engendered. Juan Tomas, Kino's brother, asks him what he will do with his money, and Kino envisions marrying Juana in a church, and dressing Coyotito in a yachting cap and sailor suit. He claims that he will send Coyotito to school and buy a rifle for himself. The local priest, hearing the news, visits and tells Kino to remember to give thanks and to pray for guidance. The doctor also visits, and although Coyotito seems to be healing, the doctor insists that Coyotito still faces danger and treats him. Kino tells the doctor that he will pay him once he sells his pearl, and the doctor attempts to discern where the pearl is located. (Kino had buried it in the corner of his hut.) That night, a thief attempts to break into Kino's hut, but Kino drives him away. Juana warns Kino that the pearl will destroy them, but Kino insists that the pearl is their one chance for a better life, and that tomorrow they will sell it. The next day, Kino goes to sell his pearl. Unbeknownst to him and all the pearl fishers, the pearl dealers in La Paz are all employees of a single buying organization. The dealers are employed to make it appear as though the prices offered are competitive when, in fact, they are kept very low, and the natives are cheated. The dealers are aware through the gossip of the town that a big pearl has been found and have agreed to pretend it is a freak and worthless. They offer Kino a thousand pesos for the pearl, which Kino believes is worth fifty thousand. Kino refuses to sell to the pearl dealers and decides to go to the capital instead. That night, Kino is attacked by more thieves, and Juana once again reminds him that the pearl is evil. However, Kino vows that he will not be cheated."

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