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The Music of the Pearl - by John Steinbeck

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The Music of the Pearl

The Pearl, written by John Steinbeck could almost be considered an allegory, in which each object symbolizes another. In the village, music is an important part of the people's lives, the music has remained the same for generations. Throughout the story Kino hears his own songs in his head which give insight to his surroundings. Kino's personal music changes to follow his endeavors. Steinbeck uses music to symbolize the changes that occur throughout the story.

Steinbeck makes it clear that music is an important item to the people of the village; however the music has always been the same. "The songs remained; Kino knew them, but no new songs were added" (Steinbeck 2). The songs do not change because the villagers' routines remain the same. "That does not mean that there were no personal songs." (Steinbeck 2) Kino creates his own rhythms and sounds to describe his emotions and feelings.

In the beginning we are introduced to Kino's daily routine by reading about the "Song of the Family". This song describes the early morning's peace, through the comforting sounds his family makes. The song shows warmth, love, and wholeness. Kino also hears the "Song of Evil" in the first chapter before and while Coyotio is bitten by the scorpion. This warning in his conscience stresses Kino and Juana. The song signaling Kino that harm was near his family was described as "the music of the enemy of any foe of the family, a savage, secret, dangerous melody" (Steinbeck 6). This description of the change, horror music climaxing, stiffened Kino and made him angry towards the scorpion's threat. In "Song of the Undersea" Kino reveals his pride and strength he has with his skill. This tune is what he listens to everyday as he dives for oysters, revealing another part of the village routine that remains the same. Kino is a skilled fisherman and while under water he hears the "Song of the Pearl that may be," as he approaches the lonely "may be pearl" the song changes and creates a "secret melody" This song represents his anxiety and desire to find a pearl that would allow their son to be cured. Kino hears the "Song of the Family" again when the doctor administers his cure to the baby, this brings relief to their family, and shows that their family rhythm is starting to return to what it used to be. Kino hears the "Song of Evil" the first night he found the pearl in fear that those jealous at him might try to steal it from him. The "Song of Evil" shows is paranoia of the pearl and his wariness of others.

The evil music after Kino was attacked at night silenced the "Song of the Family" and forced them to leave. "The music of the pearl was triumphant in Kino's head, and the quiet melody of the family underlay it"



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