The Pearl By John Steinbeck Study Help Essay Questions

1. Discuss the various animal imagery that functions throughout the novel: the ants, the scorpion, the hissing snakes, the schools of fish, the oysters, the dogs, and the pearl buyers as octopuses, etc.

2. Describe in detail Kino and Juana's simple life before and after the discovery of the pearl.

3. How does Steinbeck characterize the doctor? How does he let the reader know that the white powder which the doctor administers to Coyotito is actually a poison which would kill the baby if the doctor did not return?

4. How does the priest function as a travesty of religion?

5. Why are the pearl buyers referred to as "fatherly" and "benevolent"? How does this contradict their real purposes? Are they also victimized?

6. Why are the "dark ones" and the trackers never identified? What is gained by Steinbeck's not identifying them?

7. A symbol can change its meaning during the course of a novel. How does the pearl change its meaning during the course of this novel?

8. Kino believes that it would be better to kill a person than to kill a canoe because a canoe has no relatives to revenge it. What types of values are operative in such a statement?

9. Kino and Juana function more or less on a primitive level in their lives and in their religion, yet they both want a church wedding and a christening for Coyotito. How are these values consistent with their lives? How are they contradictory?

10. What is the function of the many songs that Kino hears during the course of the novel?

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Before they open the large oyster that will yield the great pearl, Kino and Juana




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