The Pearl Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'The Pearl' is a novella by John Steinbeck about greed and corruption. The questions in this asset offer a guideline for teachers as this literary work is discussed in classrooms.

The Pearl

What are some of the consequences of poverty? What are some challenges people face when they suddenly obtain great wealth? These are some of the questions students will ponder as they read John Steinbeck's parable The Pearl. The following questions accompany a classroom discussion about this novella.

Chapters 1-2

In this section, the students are introduced to the characters, setting, and conflict.

  • At the beginning of the story, what are Kino's priorities? What are some ways the author describes Kino's culture? What part does gratitude play in Kino's happiness?
  • What are some ways the native people are dehumanized? What are some other examples of dehumanization in history or current events? Why do some people dehumanize other people? What are the consequences?
  • Why does money suddenly become so important to Kino? What are your thoughts about tying healthcare to financial ability? How is this story relevant today?
  • What are some home remedies Juana uses to treat Coyotito? What are some home remedies your family uses to treat minor ailments? What are the advantages and disadvantages of alternative treatments?
  • How does Kino attempt to solve his financial problem? What mistakes does he make when he first finds the pearl?

Chapters 3-4

This part of the story delves into the problems that sudden wealth creates for Kino and his family.

  • What does the pearl represent to different people in the community? Why does the pearl become a symbol of danger for Kino's family? What message is the author sending about the influence of money on the community? What are some real-world examples of the corrupting influence of money? How can the corrupting influence of money be avoided?
  • Who are the people Kino can trust? How do you know? If you were in a similar situation, who are the people you know would be looking out for your best interest rather than their own?
  • How have the pearl buyers conspired against the sellers? Do you think Kino makes the right decision when he refuses their price? Why? What would you do?

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