Like many people, I read The Pearl in 7th grade English and like every single 7th grader on the planet, I was too young to fully appreciate it. I wish I could spank the genius who thought it was a good idea to force adult literature into junior high school curriculum.
Steinbeck’s short novel is a masterful morality tale and he says
“as with all retold tales that are in people’s hearts, there are only good and bad things and black and white things and good and evil things and no in between anywhere.”
At about 100 pages it can be read in a single sitting but please take the time to chew the words slowly because Steinbeck is both efficient and effective with equal power. A beautiful example is the passage below where the protagonist Kino begins to understand the dark implications of his new-found fortune –
“Every man suddenly became related to Kino’s pearl, and Kino’s pearl went into the dreams, the speculations, the schemes, the plans, the futures, the wishes, the needs, the lusts, the hungers, of everyone, and only one person stood in the way and that was Kino, so that he became curiously every man’s enemy. The news stirred up something infinitely black and evil in the town; the black distillate was like the scorpion, or like hunger in the smell of food, or like loneliness when love is withheld. The poison sacs of the town began to manufacture venom, and the town swelled and puffed with the pressure of it.”
I won’t spoil the plot, and you should really find a quiet afternoon or evening to enjoy and savor the acquired taste of deep, soul drenched writing.
You certainly didn’t in the 7th grade.