Animal Imagery used throughout The Pearl by John Steinbeck Essay
Steinbeck utilizes animal imagery to foreshadow Kink’s catastrophe, to illustrate Kink’s character decline, and to symbolize the corruption of civilization. Initially, the motif of animal imagery is used to predict the tragedy that comes to Kink. For instance, while Kink is observing the beautiful, peaceful morning, he examines a vulnerable ant ensnared in a set by an ant lion “with the detachment of God” (pig 3). This demonstrates that Kink, like the feeble ant, will be harassed by sadistic predators.
This imagery also confirms that Kink cannot anticipate assistance from God.
Furthermore, “it would be a clumsy fight” for the roosters that Kink was watching near the brush fence because “they were not game chickens” (pig 4). This foreshadows the awkward fight Kink will have with the pearl because it is evil and will not consent to fulfilling Kink’s happiness. This also shows that Kink is not skilled in selling the pearl and is not acquainted with the pearl buyers tactics.
The most dramatic illustration of this motif is when the “scorpion moved delicately down the pope toward the box” where Coyote, Kink’s son, is sleeping (pig 5).
The scorpion could whip up his tail in a flash of time, which indicates how simply everything can turn for the worst. This imagery is an example of the evil of the pearl and how it could attack Kink and his family at any second. John Steinbeck also uses the motif of animal imagery to demonstrate Kink’s character deterioration in The Pearl. For example, when the “thin, timid dog came close and, at a soft word from Kink, curled up, arranged its tail neatly ever its feel,” Kink was experiencing a perfect morning in his little hut (pig 3).
This represents how kind and welcoming Kink is at the beginning of the novel before the evil of the pearl distorts his outlook on life. Kink was willing to share the warmth of his home with a creature in need, and he looked out for other people beside himself before the pearl. After Kink found the pearl, “the thin dog came to him and threshed itself in greeting like a windblown flag, and Kink looked down at it and didn’t see it” (pig 28). Apparently, Kink now assesses the pearl, and his life is already beginning to change for the worse.
All Kink can see at the moment is the pearl and its beauty; he cannot even acknowledge the same thin dog that came to his home for warmth earlier in the story. Finding the pearl has turned Kink evil and against everyone, even his own wife at whom “he hissed at her like a snake” (pig 60). Juan was trying to save her family by destroying the pearl, but it only made Kink’s yearning to discover happiness in the pearl even stronger. Kink has become a snake filled tit the greed of the pearl.
The most significant aspect of this motif, however, is the corruption of the town. For example, ‘heard from the secret gardens was the singing of caged birds” (pig 8). This signifies how the doctor treated the people of the village. They were unable to receive any medical help if they were poor, so they were confined in their own little cage. Moreover, when Kink is attempting to sell his pearl, “the pearl buyer’s eyes had become as steady and cruel and UN-winking as a hawks eyes” (pig 48). In this quote, the pearl buyer is compared to a gawk, which is an evil bird.
This represents how malicious the pearl buyer is to Kink, and that he will try to cheat Kink. As a result of the pearl buyers trickery, Kink plans to sell his pearl at the capital, and on the way, “some large animal lumbered away, crackling the undergrowth as it went” by Kink (pig 69). This symbolizes how clumsy the village people have acted when attempting to steal the pearl from Kink. The fact that the whole village wanted to pilfer Kink’s pearl illustrates how malevolent and greedy they have all become.
John Steinbeck embellished the theme of greed by the use of animal imagery in The Pearl. The poor Mexican diver Kink realized how one mistake could destroy your whole life. The greed in the novel caused much destruction, and it robbed Kink of his humanity and his son. Animal imagery in this book was an essential motif that Steinbeck used to foreshadow Kink’s tragedy, to show Kink’s character decline, and to symbolize the corruption of civilization. This motif emphasized the human desire for perfection, which deprives people from reaching their full potential.
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