Conflicts in The Pearl
All throughout history there has been the race of man, and with it, accounts of the conflicts that were created and resolved. The novella The Pearl by John Steinbeck portrayed the idea of the numerous conflicts within human nature. The main character Kino is a poor Mexican fisherman who has a wife named Juana, and a young son named Coyotito. Kino is living a simple life until one day Coyotito is stung by a scorpion, forcing Kino and Juana to panic and try to help save their child. Despite their efforts, their attempt at getting medical attention from a doctor fails because the doctor is greedy, and only treats rich white patients. With their hope fading away, Kino and Juana decide to go pearl fishing to try to find a pearl that will make enough money to pay the doctor to treat Coyotito. Luckily, their trip is successful and Kino discovered "the pearl of the world". The pearl was the largest anyone had ever seen, but with such a great treasure, it brings on the greed of everyone. They believe that their find would bring them riches and change to their family's social status, and other ways that the pearl could benefit them. During the whole story, there are many types of conflicts, but the most predominant one is man vs. man. The three examples within the novella The Pearl are between Kino vs. the Doctor, Kino vs. Juana, and Kino vs. the trackers and intruders.
Soon after Coyotito was bitten by the scorpion, Kino rushes him to the Doctor in search of medical attention to save his poor son, this is where the conflicts between Kino and the Doctor arise. At first, the doctor is extremely rude to Kino and Juana, to the point where he insults the family. "I am a doctor, not a veterinary" (Steinbeck 11). With saying this, the Doctor implied that Coyotito was an animal because he was not a rich white person. The Doctor, being of upper class, takes advantage of Kino, who is blinded to what is happening with the treatments because he has very little backround in the medical field. "He was trapped as his people were always trapped and would be until, as he said, that they could be sure that things in the books were really in the books" (30). Going further, this means that the reason that Kino feels trapped is because he has little knowledge, and he wants the best treatments for his family possible. Kino knows that with all the knowledge the Doctor has, he can take advantage of him easily, but he cannot risk the health of his son. He could not take the chance of pitting his certain ignorance against this mans possible knowledge (30). This quote not only shows that though Kino hates the Doctor very much, he know that he has to put his family first, and keep his ignorance inside of him so that the doctor can treat Coyotito. All the blatant differences between the Doctor and Kino make them continuously conflict, even though Kino and his wife Juana are very similar, they still have many prominent conflicts.
Besides conflicting with people of the upper class, he also faces conflicts with his wife Juana, a careful maternal woman who only wants the best for her family. The all of the conflicts between Kino and Juana are over what should be done with the pearl. Kino believes that the pearl is a gift from the gods, and that it will bring good fortune. On the other hand Juana completely disagrees and wants to get rid of the pearl, in efforts to rid the family of their bad luck. Juana even says, "it will destroy us all... even our son" (39). When she says this she firmly believes that they should get rid of the pearl because eventually it will destroy their family. After still being arrogant from the previous attacks, Kino has another conflict about the pearl with Juana. "Kino, this pearl is evil. Let us destroy it before it destroys us" (56). With even more pleading, Juana yet again conflicts with Kino about getting rid of the pearl. She tries to argue again to get rid of the pearl because it has already brought on so much evil, including the attacks, and the jealousy of others. Then, later in the novella Kino gets very angry at Juana when she tries to throw the pearl back into the ocean but before she could Kino hits her. "Kino struck her face with his clenched fist and she fell among the boulders" (59). This is an important moment because it shows that Kino is the leader of the family, and he has complete control. This also displayed how the pearl brought out the worst in people, and condoned violence into Kino. Though there are conflicts between Kino and Juana, she still stands behind all of his decisions and actions; the last group of people Kino conflicts with are the trackers.
The trackers and intruders bring upon the worst in Kino, where they not just verbal arguments but physical conflicts. Because of the news of "the pearl of the world" spreading so fast, many people were jealous of the pearl, and tried to steal it. Kino is attacked twice by intruders, that try to steal the pearl. During the first time Juana catches Kino outside, "Kino lay on the ground, struggling to rise, and there was no one around him" (56). After Kino is attacked, he bleeds and is mildly hurt from the intruder. Luckily enough, Kino still has the pearl after the attack. Later, a second attacker attempts stealing the pearl, but out of self-defense, Kino killed the man. The after the attackers and Kino's house being burnt down, Kino's is over the edge, so he makes an exectutive decision for his family to move away. His attempts at trying to move away fail, because he is followed by trackers seeking the pearl. Kino, Juana, and Coyotito hide in various places to avoid them. "He barely breathed, and his eyes went to the place where he had swept out the track. Even the sweeping might be a message to the trackers" (73). With the trackers determined to steal the pearl, Kino is taking every precaution to try to avoid any clues to be given away on his whereabouts. After hiding in the cave, Kino knew the trackers drew very near and they hid to the best of their ability, but Coyotito cried out, and the trackers did hear. "What was that?... It sounded like a cry, almost like a human, like a baby (86). This event resulted in the trackers firing a gunshot in the direction where they heard the noise, and the death of Coyotito. With an immense amount of emotion pouring out of Kino, he murdered all of the trackers. Kino and Juana then returned to their village, mourning their tragic loss, all because of the pearl.
Out of all of the types of conflicts, man vs. man is definitely the most prominent conflict in the novella The Pearl, and in each situation, Kino is in each of them. Man vs. man conflicts were more important then the other situations because they truly portrayed the story-line better then any other situations could because they involved the main character, Kino, so much. The outcome of the conflict with the doctor, which was making Coyotito even sicker, to the conflicts with Juana which resulted in violence, to finally the conflicts with the trackers and intruders which resulted in many deaths, overall the pearl was a horrible object. It was a perfect example of how materialism corrupts society, and greed is such a powerful feeling, where the person experiencing it can go to extreme measures, in attempts to try to achieve a certain goal. In the case of Kino and Juana it cost the life of an innocent baby, and still around the world today, greed is the emotion that drives many of the evil things in the world .