MATERIAL SOCIETY, MATERIAL THOUGHTS Essay
Ever since Midas’ lust for gold, it appears to be that man hasacquired a greed and appetite for wealth. Juana, the Priest, andthe doctor have all undergone a change due to money. They are all affected by their hunger for wealth and inturn are the base fortheir own destruction, and the destruction of society. Steinbeck’s”The Pearl” is a study of man’s self destruction through greed.
Juana, the faithful wife of Kino, a paltry peasant man, hadlived a spiritual life for what had seemed like as long as shecould remember. When her son Coyito fell ill from the bite of ascorpion, she eagerly turned towards the spiritual aspects of life.
Beginning to pray for her son’s endangered life. The doctor whohad resided in the upper-class section of the town, refused toassistant the child, turning them away when they arrived at thedoor. Lastly they turned to the sea to seek their fortune. WhenJuana set sight on the “Pearl of The World.” she felt as thoughall her prayers had been answered, if she could have foreseen thefuture what she would have seen would have been a mirror image ofher reality. Juana’s husband was caught in a twisted realm ofmirrors, and they were all shattering one by one. In the night heheard a “sound so soft that it might have been simply athought…” and quickly attacked the trespasser. This is wherethe problems for Juana and her family began. The fear that hadmounted in Kino’s body had taken control over his actions. Sooneven Juana who had always had faith in her husband, had doubted himgreatly. “It will destroy us all” she yelled as her attempt torid the family of the pearl had failed. Kino had not listenedhowever, and soon Juana began to lose her spiritual side and for along time she had forgotten her prayers that had at once meant somuch to her. She had tried to help Kino before to much trouble hadaroused, only to discover that she was not competent enough tohelp.
A hypocrathic oath is said before each medical student isgranted a Doctors degree. In the oath they swear to aid the ill,and cure the injured. In the village of La Paz there lived adoctor who had earned his wealth by helping those that were ill andcould afford his services. Not once in his long career would hehave dared refuse to aid a wealthy lawyer or noblemen. Howeverwhen Kino and the group of money hungry peasants arrived at hisdoor with a poisoned child he had refused them entry saying “HaveI nothing better to do than cure insect bites for ‘little Indians’?I am a doctor, not a veterinary.” for the doctor had known thatthe peasants hadn’t any money. He had been to Paris and hadenjoyed the splendors of the world, and therefore he wouldn’t beseen dealing with the less fortunate as he knew that the lessfortunate would surely always be just that-less fortunate. Howeverit seemed that he had been stereotypical of the less fortunate, ashe soon discovered when hearing of a great pearl discovered by thepeasants who had knocked upon his door earlier that day. A hungerfor wealth was what pushed him to visit the peasants house and aidtheir destitute son. However he had already ended Coyito’s lifewithout knowing he’d done so, for if he had administered aid toCoyito when they were first at the doctors door, Kino would have noreason to seek his fortune in the ocean, and would not be led downthe road to hardships. One might think that a doctor, one who hasthe image of being passive, and caring should not stoop to such alevel.
When one is down on their luck, chances are they will turn tosuperstition in hope to acquire what it is that they would want toachieve. A good example of this would be a good luck charm such asa rabbit’s foot. In La Paz the peasants were uneducated andprobably had never heard of a superstition. The peasants onlyreliability, there only scapegoat was God. God had always beentheir to aid them in there times of need. The first reaction ofJuana when seeing the scorpion is a good example of spirituality,rather than attempt to kill the scorpion she began to pray to Godfor safety.
In La Paz the only form of God that the peasants knew was thatof the Priest of the church. To the peasants the Priest was soGod-like that they were unable to see any faults in his actions. However the reader is able to determine that the Priest is abusinghis position in society. In order to receive the sacraments theperson requesting the sacrament must “donate” a small amount ofmoney to the church. Whether this is correct or not is a matter ofopinion. The church definetly needs funding but the peasants areunable to donate these funds, but, does that make them unable toreceive the sacraments should they want to acquire them? ThePriest is so set on achieving money and social status that he putsaside the real reason one becomes a Priest- to help, and teach theword of God.
In “The Pearl”, Steinbeck expresses the fact that man’s manifestation for wealth and property leads to the self destructionof man, both mentally, and physically. The Priest of La Paz, Thedoctor, and Juana were all affected by the affects of greed. Whether they are striving for wealth or are in the path of thosethat are, they are all equally affected. The story of Midas liveson as a caution to those who crave the warmth and comfort of money. Beckoning to those who struggle to achieve wealth, and hoping thatthey will respond, and possibly not put wealth on the top shelf oflife.
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