52 in 52 Week 13: The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Cover image for The PearlI had tea with my friend, Sharon, a couple of weeks ago, and her son, home on break from Annapolis Naval Academy, sat down with us to discuss classical novels. He had said he didn't like Pride and Prejudice a few years earlier, but he finally sat down and loved it. I like that he tried again when he was a few years older.


He also said, "I had to read The Pearl in high school, and that story is just stupid."  I told him I had it on hold at the digital library. It made me wonder if he would like this one too if he gave it a try at an older age.


I did not think it was stupid. Yes, it is another depressing, American novel of the 20th century, but it is profound. I love Steinbeck's writing. He is a wonderful craftsman of a story.  This is a simple, symbolic short novel set in the early 1940's. It tells of what happens to a poor family that finds a great pearl. The main themes are anti-materialism, knowing one's place in society, greed, illusion versus reality, and the wisdom that comes out of difficulty. 


The major question is: "Can money buy you peace, love, and harmony in life?"  It is interesting to look at this question in light of the lottery being 500 million today. There is a hot discussion on my girlfriend's Facebook page about what people would do with the money. Yesterday, I watched the new commentators banter about it. I didn't know that one of the mega winners was kidnapped and murdered by his sister-in-law. WOW!

The timing of this novel is perfect for this discussion!



Hector Elizondo's narration is perfect.  It is a 2-3 hour listening feast. 
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