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In order to answer this question, we must first establish what is meant by the term “parable”.A dictionary defines a parable as “a short story which puts across a moral or religious truth”.
The child makes up the archetypal family, representing the next generation and hopes for the future.
The major line of symbolism, however, centres round the pearl itself, which symbolises much more than material wealth.
Although the style is simple, there is a great deal more description than we would expect from a parable, some of it very poetic in style, eg “High in the grey stone mountains, under a frowning peak, a little spring bubbled out of a rupture in the stone.
It was fed by shade-preserved snow in the summer, and now and then it died completely and bare rocks and dried algae were on its bottom”.
This makes the story far more realistic as the characters seem like believable people with real feelings and emotions, Juana”s “face was hard and lined and leathery with fatigue and with the tightness with which she fought fatigue. The whole story can be read as entertainment, without having to look for a message or meaning.
In fact, there is evidence to suggest that Steinbeck was trying to write it as a realistic piece, and not as a parable.When the pearl comes into his world, he learns about loneliness, hate, greed, suspicion and evil.Like Adam, in the Fall in Genesis, Kino returns to his home at the end of the book , having gained knowledge, but changed forever,as he has sacrificed his son for this knowledge.We know of parables from the Bible, where Jesus told these stories to teach his followers about God”s word.Typical features we would expect from a parable would be: a short narrative told in a simple style with little detailed description; a homely setting;nameless and undeveloped characters; and a moral or religious truth conveyed through symbolism, with everyday objects or events representing larger ideas or concepts. Kino,a native Mexican fisherman, married with a child, sees his son stung by a scorpion,and a doctor demands money for treating him.It becomes a crystal ball in which one can see one”s dreams and nightmares; Kino “looked into its surface and it was grey and ulcerous.Evil faces peered from it into his eyes, and he saw the light of burning…….In his book, “Sea of Cortez” 1941, he explains that he took the idea for his book from an old Californian/Mexican folk tale about an Indian boy who found a pearl.He liked the story, but said, it did not sound believable because it was “so much like a parable, or a short story with a hidden moral lesson” and the character of the young boy went “contrary to human direction”, that is, he was not realistic enough.The idea of this book being a religious parable also seems to be borne out by the journey through the desert to sell the pearl, which is like a pilgrimage, testing the character of the pilgrim, and seems to echo the Exodus of the Israelites seeking their promised land in the Bible.Was this story supposed to be a version of the parable of the pearl in the Bible, where a merchant sacrifices everything he holds dear for a pearl of great value, and his place in the Kingdom of Heaven?