Why did the author use the pearl to represent greed instead of happiness?
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This is a morality tale. The point of the story is to show others what happens when you make bad choices. The moral of the story is that greed will get you no where. If Kino had simply been happy that Coyotito was better or if he hadn't fought the pearl buyers then he would have settled for what he was getting and been happy; after all Coyotito was better right! Kino however wanted more for himself, his son and Juana, a gun, school and marriage. If he hadn't wanted more than what he originally wished for, Coyotito's health, than the story would have ended there. Thus greed is an important point in the story. It sets up and drives the plot and in the end it gives the author a moral to tell the reader.
It should be noted that Steinbeck is retelling an old Mexican folktale here.