Tuesday 27 September 2016

#2016ClassicsChallenge: The Pearl

Originally published in 1947 by The Viking Press

My edition: The new YA Originals paperback from Penguin.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
This is actually a title that I didn’t know about until I was offered the chance to review a few of the YA Originals.

WHY I Chose to Read It
I read Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ way back in Year 9 and I hated it. Completely and utterly. It’s been around 10 years since then and I figured it was about time I gave him another shot.

WHAT Makes It a Classic
‘The Pearl’ is a fable about the evils of greed and the danger of the poor rising up and threatening the status quo.

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
I’m just going to come out and say it: I really didn’t like ‘The Pearl’. In fact, if it had been any longer that it's 115 pages I wouldn’t have finished it.

Kino is a poor Mexican pearl diver who finds the Pearl of the World - huge pearl worth thousands. Kino is blinded to the threat and danger of the pearl by the promise and glory of what it can achieve for him.

As I mentioned, this novel is a fable and it felt very heavy handed. The story and writing was very simplified, the message obvious and verging on preachy and I hated the oppressive feel of the message behind Kino’s story. But aside from that, I found it kind of boring. Being a fable, the general direction of the story and the journey of the characters was expected and there were no real surprises in the narrative.

One of the things that I remember not liking about ‘Of Mice and Men’ is that the character of Curley’s Wife is just his wife – she doesn’t even have a name. She’s a device without a personality, agency or depth, and I found the same problem with Kino’s wife Juana. She is simply there to function as a conscience to Kino, to refute his ideas about the pearl and she is constantly derived and squashed down by her husband. It made me ragey and lose all sympathy I had for Kino and his plight.

It's safe to say that John Steinbeck isn’t for me and I won't be giving him another try.

WILL It Stay a Classic
Probably. Steinbeck is seen as a master of American literature and he continues to be studied across English classrooms. Poor kids.

WHO I’d Recommend it To
- Honestly, I’m really not sure. Unless you’re a fan of Steinbeck already, I don’t really recommend ‘The Pearl’.


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