Thursday, September 24, 2009

Novel: The Pearl (Sample Q&A)

Question 1:

‘In life a person sometimes faces problems."

How is this shown in the novel you have read? Support your answer with close reference to the text.

To answer the above question you need to ask yourself the following questions:

* Who is the character who faces problems?

* What are these problems?


Kino, the main character in the novel The Pearl by John Steinbeck, is initially a contented man despite living in extreme poverty. He is satisfied with life although he is only a poor pearl diver whose only material possessions are a canoe and a brush house. He is not concerned about his lack of material comforts. Life is difficult but he is happy. However, all this changes very soon and he is plagued with problems.

The first problem Kino faces is lack of money. This problem surfaces when his only son Coyotito is stung by a scorpion. Desperate to save the life of his child, he goes to the doctor’s house to seek treatment. Unfortunately, he is denied treatment simply because he has no money to pay the doctor. Until this moment, his poverty, or rather lack of money has not been a problem. Now, he realises that he needs money to save his child. This is when he goes pearl diving because he does not want to take chances with his son’s life. Luckily, he finds a big pearl and he believes he will be able to solve his problem by selling the pearl. Unfortunately, things do not get better for him. Instead other problems crop up.

The second problem Kino faces is insincerity on the part of people around him. People who were disinterested in his life suddenly turn up at his doorstep. The priest, who has never been concerned about Kino or his family, now hopes that Kino will donate money to the church. Likewise, the doctor who had turned him away now comes to the settlement on the pretext of treating the baby. He deliberately poisons the baby and then gives him an antidote just to gain Kino’s confidence. Kino, who had no worries before, is now suspicious of the people around him. He is unsure of who he can trust. He even becomes suspicious of Juana who steals the pearl one night because she wants to get rid of the evil it has brought.

Another problem is Kino’s and his family’s safety. He is attacked not once but thrice by unknown people who are out to steal the pearl from him. During the first two attacks he suffers slight injuries but in the third attack he accidentally kills a man. This leads to even bigger problems because he has no choice but to flee the village as no one will believe him that he killed the man in self defence. More problems surface when his brush house is burnt by people searching for the pearl. He knows that whoever is after him will not leave his family alone. Worse still, his precious canoe is damaged to prevent him from escaping by sea. He is left with no choice but to flee the village. Unfortunately, Kino faces more problems when he flees the village. Even as he is fleeing, he is pursued by three trackers, two on foot and one on horseback. Kino has to go to extreme lengths to cover his tracks to ensure his family’s safety. He knows that the trackers will not spare his family even if they find the pearl. Kino knows that he has no choice but to kill his trackers to safeguard his family. He takes a great risk by singlehandedly taking on his pursuers using only a knife as a weapon. Unfortunately, during the struggle with the three attackers, a bullet is accidentally fired from the rifle killing his beloved son. With the death of his son, Kino has nothing to look forward to. Finally, he returns to his village unafraid of the consequences.

It is clear from the evidence above that Kino faces many problems, with each problem getting worse than the

one before it. Eventually, these problems have a terrible effect on him.

Taken from the blog of ShadyOak

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