• Paul Jameson

My thoughts on 'The Pearl' by Steinbeck

Sometimes... With some authors; When you finish one of their works you have to give it time to settle in and 'become' before casting your immediate judgement, so to speak. Steinbeck is one of those authors. I love his narrative and prose, of that there is no doubt. Steinbeck takes you to where 'there' is. As @williamCKent (a friend on Twitter) who described on reading the Grapes of Wrath: 'I felt as if I needed to dump the dust from my shoes and was always hungry...' Perfectly put. He does. In the Pearl I was taken into a poor but happy fisherman's hut. I could smell the sea, feel the grime beneath my fingers and taste the honest sweat in the air; I felt the corruption of the civilised in the character of the Doctor and blinked against the glare of white-washed buildings. I was in Mexico.

And throughout the book he took me to different places. Under the sea, salty and cool; where I held my breath. And into the desert. My mouth turned dry and I really did hear the noisy silence, felt the sand in my shoes and tasted dust. I needed water. And so I love his writing. I have no doubt. However I was less convinced by the story itself. I understood his exploration of how the finding of promised wealth in the form of a perfect pearl led to the corruption and loss of what was happy and perfect. Corruption, greed, ambition, avarice all reared their heads. And all this was excellently done except... (for me) When Kino attacked Juana; He loved her and this was clear, in his character he would ne'er have done this. Not if love is real, and Steinbeck had convinced me their love was; so I felt the thread unravelled a bit. Other than that everything else was believable and beautifully put. An exploration of societal and commercial systems, built on money, greed and witholding education to keep the downtrod in place. And how one man's attempt to break out of it through the discovery of an unexpected potential wealth destroyed that which was most precious to him. And in that light the pearl became both ugly and worthless... I would certainly recommend this novel as a good read. I enjoyed it. But with that one flaw I was just left with an unconvinced taste in my mouth which was a shame. 3.8 stars from me, truth be known;


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