The Pearl Shows Human Nature


So in school I was assigned to read Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. And the schools I went to were only an hour from where Steinbeck lived and wrote most of his early works. But we never took afield trip out there. Those books aren’t as good, or as poignant as The Pearl.

In the Pearl, the main character Kino dives for pearls for a living, and lives a modest lower class agricultural lifestyle. One day he dives and retrieves the largest pearl ever known. His child had also recently fallen ill. Rumors spread, and the whole town (including the baby’s doctor) soon is conniving to either screw him over- or to steal it from him outright. His wife Juanita warns him that all this could happen. But Kino’s pride as a man, combined with his personal ambitions doom him completely. Juana fatalistically accepts Kino’s flawed decisions out of an understanding of the psychology of prideful men (a clear indication this book was written before the feminist movement). And in the end, many characters suffer ill fates.


If you ever saw the cult film with Mimi Rogers and David Duchovny called The Raputure, then you will recognize the symbol of the pearl in the cult members visions and also as tattooed on one of the members’ back in the film. Pearls in American culture are in a modern tradition tending to represent an ominous forewarning of personal or societal apocalypse. Personally I have a pearl memento from my baptism when I was 14.

This book made me ask myself hard questions. Many authors like Nassim Taleb (in his book Black Swans) argue that one should always take advantage off opportunities to profit aggressively (since good opportunities are deemed rare). Ayn Rand would also argue to be greedy and not share the proceeds with the community, since humans are not sacrificial lambs, but rather self-responsible individuals. But in this book, which is a fairly realistic scenario, the main character would have done better to do neither of those actions. Instead, had Kino shared the proceeds with his community, then the community would not have had as much incentive to rob/maim him. And had Kino took the first (lesser) payment offer for the pearl and been modest, instead of turning down the offer to seek more money for it – then he would have been all the better for it.

As we move towards the future with sexbots, maybe society should consider whether these could be benefit of all, instead of simply for the wealthy and the perverted. And perhaps we should also not think of the sexbots as a total cure-all for headaches and arguments men and women suffer from each other. Its best for society to keep an open mind towards them, and try to find a way to use them as a positive tool and a force for peace and happiness in the world. – “Deplorable” Steve