The Pearl is a novella by an American author John Steinbeck, first published in 1947. It is a story about a poor Mexican who discovers a valuable pearl that brings bad luck to his family. It explores man’s nature as well as defiance of societal norms and evil. Steinbeck’s inspiration was a Mexican folktale from La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, which he had heard in a visit to the formerly pearl-rich region in 1940.
The Pearl tells the story of Kino, a young pearl fisherman who lives in a native village on the outskirts of the town in La Paz on the shores of the Gulf of California. Kino has a wife (Juana) and a newborn baby (Coyotito), both of whom he adores. One day, Kino finds an immense pearl of superb quality. Immediately he sees a bright future for his family.
As the news of Kino’s luck spreads, others try to benefit from it: a greedy doctor, pretending to save the life of the baby who has been bitten by a scorpion, tries to bargain for the pearl; thieves try to steal it at night; crooked dealers try to cheat him of its value. Even the beggars hope to benefit for they knew that there is no alms-giver like a poor man who is suddenly lucky. One night Kino kills a man who tries to rob him. Later Kino’s hut is burned down and in fear for their lives, Kino and his wife Juana decide to run away to another town in the north.
However, they are followed, and in a desperate attempt to save himself and his family, Kino kills the pursuers. In the struggle, the baby is killed. Kino and Juana return to their village and throw the pearl back into the sea.