The Pearl: (centennial Edition)

Paperback | January 8, 2002

byJohn Steinbeck

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“There it lay, the great pearl, perfect as the moon.”
One of Steinbeck’s most taught works, The Pearl is the story of the Mexican diver Kino, whose discovery of a magnificent pearl from the Gulf beds means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dream blinds him to the greed and suspicions the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors, and even his loving wife Juana cannot temper his obsession or stem the events leading to tragedy. This classic novella from Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck examines the fallacy of the American dream, and illustrates the fall from innocence experienced by people who believe that wealth erases all problems. 

This Centennial edition, specially designed to commemorate one hundred years of Steinbeck, features french flaps and deckle-edged pages.

For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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From the Publisher

“There it lay, the great pearl, perfect as the moon.” One of Steinbeck’s most taught works, The Pearl is the story of the Mexican diver Kino, whose discovery of a magnificent pearl from the Gulf beds means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dream blinds him to the greed and suspicions the pearl arouses in him...

No writer is more quintessentially American than John Steinbeck. Born in 1902 in Salinas, California, Steinbeck attended Stanford University before working at a series of mostly blue-collar jobs and embarking on his literary career. Profoundly committed to social progress, he used his writing to raise issues of labor exploitation and t...

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Format:PaperbackPublished:January 8, 2002Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0142000698

ISBN - 13:9780142000694

Customer Reviews of The Pearl: (centennial Edition)


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pearl What a life lesson to be learned by all.
Date published: 2016-12-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a must! this book teaches a valuable lesson. timeless
Date published: 2016-11-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fable This is a classic fable about the effects of greed and how it can destroy us. A timeless story more relevant today than ever before.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not too bad of a story Kino, a young and strong but poor pearl diver, and Juana live with their baby son Coyotito in a small fishing village outside the city of La Paz, Mexico (which according to Wikipedia is in Baja California Sur on the Gulf of California). Coyotito is stung by a scorpion, but as Kino has no money to pay the doctor, the boy is refused treatment. He recovers, thanks to Juana’s ministrations, but the next day Kino finds a huge pearl, which he calls “the pearl of the world.” By selling it, he can get the money to pay the doctor, but he also dreams of buying a rifle, marrying Juana, and getting Coyotito an education, things that he has never had money for thus far. However, his dreams blind him to the greed that the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors. Soon, the whole town knows of the pearl, and many people begin to desire it. That night Kino is attacked in his own home. The next day, he takes the pearl to the pearl buyers in the town, but they refuse to give him the money he wants so he decides to go to the capital for better price. Juana, seeing that the pearl is causing darkness and greed, sneaks out of the house later that night to throw the pearl back into the ocean, but Kino catches her. While he is returning to the house, Kino is attacked again by several unknown men and the pearl is lost in the struggle. Juana finds it and gives it back to Kino. When they arrive home they find that their canoe is damaged and their home is burning down, so they determine to walk to the capital but soon find that they are being tracked by men who are hired to hunt them. Will the family be able to escape? And what will happen to the pearl? This novella, which was first published as a short story “The Pearl of the World” in Woman’s Home Companion in 1945, explores man's nature as well as greed and evil and supposedly illustrates our fall from innocence. It is said to be a retelling of an old Mexican folk tale. That the doctor has performed clumsy abortions and had a mistress is mentioned. There are references to drinking wine and smoking cigarettes as well as to both “God” and “the gods.” Kino and Juana are not married but, of course, are living together and have a son. The story exhibits Steinbeck’s typical pessimistic cynicism leading to the conclusion that if something good ever happens, you had better watch out because it is just setting you up for something really bad. Someone has suggested that it bares “the fallacy of the American dream--that wealth erases all problems.” I don’t agree that the American dream is that wealth erases all problems, although some might think that, but I do agree that we must learn that wealth is not the ultimate answer to man’s greatest needs and presents some serious problems. All in all, it is not too bad of a book.
Date published: 2012-03-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A lesson For Life Even though this book has only 118 pages, it has a ton wisdom in it. Here we have a poor man who suddenly becomes rich when he finds a pearl. And suddenly people who only days earlier, would not give him time of day now want to be this friend. John Steinbeck shows that wealth is not only about money, it about friendship, love, and realising what you have may already makes you rich.
Date published: 2010-07-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pearls and Greed Honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of the book, I found it to be just okay. The characters were okay, the plot was okay, the story was okay. I did like all the songs described though, and the twist at the end was interesting although sad. However, I didn't like how crazy the greed became, I could not see many people going to the extremes that some people went to in this book.
Date published: 2010-06-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Well this was an.... .... interesting read. This book depicts how we should not greed in life and be happy with what we have because we can never know the future in concrete but only in assumptions. Kino, a poor pearl-diver is the protagonist of this novel and throughout the book faces many obstacles because of finding the pearl of the world to save his son from dying. However with fortune comes jealousy, greed and enemies. Happy Reading!
Date published: 2009-10-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from simple timeless story.... I taught The Pearl at summer school this year. Although I have read a couple other Steinbeck novels, I’d never read this one. It’s a great little novella to teach because of its simplicity and easily recognizable themes of greed and hope. Kino and his wife Juana lead a simple life in La Paz, Mexico around 1900. Kino is a pearl diver, depending on the canoe passed down through the generations and his own work ethic. He’s a man content with his lot in life because he appreciates what he has. When his infant son, Coyotito, is stung by a scorpion it sets off a chain of events that not only ruins Kino, but upsets the delicate balance of the natural world (if only metaphorically) and the community in which Kino had so happily lived. The Pearl is an accessible novel. It gave us lots to talk about – do you need money and possessions to make you happy? Should you judge a man by the clothes he wears or his character? Is violence ever justified? Today’s teens often do think that money buys happiness and if ever there was a novel to disprove this assumption, The Pearl might well be it. If I were just reading it for pleasure, though, I might have been disappointed. I’m not a gigantic fan of Steinbeck’s writing at the best of times (although he certainly deserves his place in that list of great American writers). The Pearl is simplistic and at times unrealistic (which likely has to do with the fact that it’s a parable which comes from the oral tradition of storytelling). As it teacher it offered me lots to work with; as a reader it was less enchanting.
Date published: 2009-07-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from is essentially a morality tale The Pearl is essentially a morality tale about how the pursuit of wealth can lead to unhappiness. Perhaps that is unfair; putting it that way conjures up images of preachiness and boredom. The Pearl is neither preachy nor boring. It is a simple, short story, well told. It is well worth the short time it will take you to read it.
Date published: 2008-12-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Absolutey Horrible! I read this book quite a while ago in a class of approximately thirty kids. There was not a single person who enjoyed it! i found it boring, irrelevant and completely unrelatable. there was no story line and the book just dragged on. the chapters were ridiculously long and the content was repugnant and the characters werent developed. it was just overall a terrible piece of literature and a waste of time. but hey, if anyone liked it then you definatley have my respect ;)
Date published: 2008-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Pearl - John Steinbeck John Steinbeck has excellent creativity skill and always intreages the reader to read between the lines.
Date published: 2006-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Many Attributes The Pearl is a uniquely written book that is based on a Mexican folktale. Though it was written by the deceased author, John Steinbeck, in 1945, it is quite timeless, and the conflicts that the characters face still apply largely to today's society. Kino the poor pearl-diver finally finds a pearl that he believes to be of value, but the outcomes associated with the find are grave. The outcomes associated with it cost lives and happiness. The novel cleverly portrays many unfavourable but true concepts about today's society, whether it be the gap between rich and poor or racism. It reminds the reader that these conflicts occur on a grand scale in our world, even though it may not be in the form of the story in The Pearl. What The Pearl does, however, is gives us a unique story associated with these key problems. Kino wants to find the pearl solely so that he can pay for a doctor to help his son live, but it takes him in a new direction: a direction that neither Kino nor the reader may ever consider. All three members of Kino's family: himself, his wife Juana, and Coyotito, go through some form of Bildungsroman which is frightening yet interesting to witness. Kino goes from poor yet satisfied pearl diver to a fiendish killer; Juana goes from obedient wife to one who fights back and is not afraid to express her opinion; Coyotito is exposed to new things and must change his personality as he experiences these catharses. Steinbeck gives very subtle indications of each character's traits, yet the descriptions are copious and are related in cunning fashion. Steinbeck uses a unique writing style that makes the novella quite enjoyable to read. He tells it with a folktale approach that reminds the reader of Aesop, yet he intertwines more description and character traits. It is clear to see that the story is based on a Mexican folktale; nevertheless, Steinbeck has added his own unique touch. As stated, the character descriptions are subtle yet plentiful, while the setting is even more punctiliously depicted. However, the art that Steinbeck has most successfully mastered is conveying the characters' emotions and the varying auras in the novella. The reader is able to sense when a character experiences stress, or when a situation is particularly grave. The novella's length of ninety pages, in my opinion, is an advantage. Its storyline is as complex and of equal quality to any other acclaimed novel (such as The Lord of the Rings, with which I believe it shares similarities), and its description is of equal meticulousness. Therefore, The Pearl does not need to be longer than it is; any extra writing would be superfluous. Steinbeck also dutifully incorporates song and music into The Pearl. Songs, whether they be The Song of The Pearl or The Song of the Family, religiously reflect the feelings of the characters as well as how the story is unfolding. For example, when Kino first finds the pearl, the Song of The Pearl is strong and happy, but at the end of the novel, it is distorted and insane. This suits Kino's character as well as the story line perfectly. The final key positive element of The Pearl worth mentioning in this review is how Steinbeck manages to craftily drill in the novel's morals and themes to the reader. Obviously the key moral is that nothing can be overestimated; if something is wished for too hard it will not be granted. Steinbeck never ceases to impose these important morals: they can be found on virtually every page of the novel. Though only ninety pages, The Pearl is full to the brim with artful character descriptions that include extensive Bildungsroman, an exciting plot, as well as important morals that must be remembered as we go about our everyday lives. Such morals in The Pearl I will never forget; and thus, I will never forget the unique writing style and gripping plot that made The Pearl so commendable.
Date published: 2005-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Kino and his wishes or loses The Pearl by Steinbeck is about an unwealthy man named Kino who finds a enormous, perfect pearl. Kino thinks that this pearl pearl will bring his family on top for once but he will soon find out that the pearl will also bring danger to Kino's family. Kino wants to get a harpoon, a rifle and wants his son to go to school in exchange for the pearl. Kino gets the rifle but looses many things in return, he lost his house, his boat and most important, his son who which he was protecting in the beginning. He only went to find the poor because he needed the money so that the doctor would treat his son, the poison which the scorpion had left. There are many other exciting things in this book but you'll just have to read it yourself.
Date published: 2000-10-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great story I think this book was great it teaches a life lesson. And a story about family and friends. And how the most valuble things in life are not the most important. If you want a great story , with an adventure i recommend you read this book.
Date published: 2000-06-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A book of great morals and values I thought this book was great. It taught me a lot about being thankful for what you have and always apreaciating everything around you. I recently read it and found it a wonderful book that you can tell all your friends about. I f you want to read a great book that you can learn something from, read John Steinbeck's " The Pearl".
Date published: 2000-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Best This book was one of the book's that I actualy liked. It was interesting and exciting.
Date published: 2000-03-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not all that good! This was the first steinbeck book i have read and i am not all that impressed. With a name like steinbeck i expected well written irony and wit that leaps from the pages. maybe i missed some or all of that but i found it a dull extremley short book which takes forever to reach it's point.
Date published: 1999-07-25

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Editorial Reviews

“[The Pearl] has the distinction and sincerity that are evident in everything he writes.”—The New Yorker

“Form is the most important thing about him. It is at its best in this work.” —Commonweal

“[Steinbeck has] long trained his prose style for such a task as this: that supple unstrained, muscular power, responsive to the slightest pull of the reins.”—Chicago Sunday Times