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No Pain, No Gain

Essay by   •  April 14, 2013  •  Essay  •  1,396 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,836 Views

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No Pain, No Gain

To suffer, according to the definition provided by the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, means to submit or be forced to endure; to sustain loss or damage. It has been argued that the effects of suffering are cleansing, that a true insight is achieved through such an experience. Although some may say that suffering offers no beneficial end results, it is only when one truly experiences pain or loss that he or she can see things clearly. Within The Pearl, by John Steinbeck, Kino loses almost everything because of the great pearl he obtained. Kino could not see how much he would suffer by holding onto the pearl since he was blinded by the riches he sought to achieve through its sale. Kino proves that humans are creatures of repetition, thus a mistake cannot be seen as a mistake until there are consequence. Suffering is the driving force behind the correction of human error; without suffering there would be no compassion. Steinbeck shows this throughout the novella, and displays, through Kino, how concerns for achieving material things result in human suffering. Through the painful journey Kino endures, he gains an appreciation for the possessions in his life that he cannot replace and rids himself of the material things that only cause evil. If Kino had not experienced any pain because of the pearl, he would not have been able to see why his actions were wrong. Instead, he would have sold the pearl, obtained the riches he set out to achieve, and not have looked back on his brash, irrational actions during his journey.

As Kino discovers by the end of the novella, suffering renders an appreciation for things that cannot be replaced. When Kino and Juana arrived back to their town at the end of the novella, Steinbeck wrote, "They [Kino and Juana] trudged past the burned square where their house had been without even looking at it...they did not look toward Kino's broken canoe" (Steinbeck, 40). Kino and Juana did not acknowledge the material things they lost, because they had lost something that could not be replaced: their son. Before they had even set out for the capital to sell the pearl, Juana knew that the pearl was going to bring nothing but evil in her and her husband's lives. As Juana argued, "Kino, this pearl is evil. Let us destroy it before it destroys us" (Steinbeck, 26). She knew it would destroy them, because Kino was putting his high ambitions above anything else. Kino did not realize how right she was until their family was torn apart because of his protection of the pearl. His intentions were not in the right place; he put his family in danger and risked their lives. Ultimately, Kino throws the pearl back into the ocean, because he knew that Juana was right all along. His ridding of the pearl showed how he has learned the true value of life and family, the things that he can never get back once they are lost.

The final decision Kino makes to send the pearl back to the ocean shows how he understood the threat material items brings to one's life. Until a possession physically damages something or someone of importance in a person's life, it is an item to be cherished, a momentum of great beauty and value. At first, the pearl is a sparkling, beautiful item that is the envy of everyone around Kino. He looks at it with great pride, and seeks great riches from its value. However, after he sees all the evil it brings and all that he had to give up to keep it, Kino's perception of the pearl changes significantly. As Steinbeck noted, "...and then he [Kino] held the great pearl in his hand. He looked into its surface and it was gray and ulcerous. Evil faces peered from it into his eyes, and he saw the light of burning...And the pearl was ugly; it was gray, like a malignant growth" (Steinbeck, 40). The pearl itself had not changed in appearance, but Kino's vision of it

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