A question about the symbolism of the pearl in the story.
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The Pearl symbolizes the greed of man. It represents the illusion that quick wealth will make man happy. I always think of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy when I think of Steinbeck's "The Pearl". In the Lord of the Rings, the ring envelops the soul whoever has it. The ring brings power but it exacts a price. This price is indeed the soul of whoever chooses to use it. Similarly the Pearl exacts a price as well. It represents more money than Kino has ever seen. It also represents a lifestyle that he has never imagined. The pearl, however, becomes all that Kino cares about. It possesses his soul, his very being. Juana sees this but is powerless against its pull. Unlike Kino, Juana is aware of the evil that the pearl draws in men's hearts. The pearl upsets the balance that Kino has had in his life. Kino covets the pearl even at the expense of his own family.