, Research Paper
Imagery and Mood of The Pearl
In the book The Pearl, John Steinbeck shows how imagery can be used to produce mood. Steinbeck uses many different images to establish the mood of the story through mainly his choice of words and details of the setting. He puts an image in the reader’s mind, which sets on atmosphere for the setting. Using many similes and metaphors the perfect mood is acquired for this work of art.
It is very important to note how throughout the story Steinbeck compares the characters to animals. This use of imagery is mainly used in the last chapter with Kino, Juana and the trackers. For example, the trackers are said to be “as sensitive as hounds”(73), “excited dogs on a warming trail”(73), and “scurrying ants and behind them a larger ant”(80). These similes and metaphors put an image in one’s mind about how Kino saw the trackers and felt, being stalked by these ‘dogs.’ A very distinct image is after Kino finds the pearl, he “howls”(20). This displays an image of Kino as an animal, throwing his head back and howling. In the third chapter Steinbeck describes the town as a “colonial animal”(21). This seems to set the mood of the town after Kino had found the pearl. The town passes on information about his discovery like a “nervous system” (21). Steinbeck uses many animal phases describing characters and setting to create imagery to give the mood.
One object which relates the mood of the story through its images is the pearl itself. At first Kino looks for hope in the pearl, and it is magnificent, “the greatest pearl of the world,” “perfect as the moon”(19). As the story continues, the pearl seems to get more and more evil. Kino often looks into the pearl to see his dreams and future, but by the end of the book all he sees is the man he had killed and Coyotito after being shot. At the end of the book the imagery is excellent with Kino and Juana walking through the city and Kino throwing the pearl back into the ocean. “Kino drew back his arm and flung the pearl with all his might. Kino and Juana watched it go, winking and glimmering under the setting sun”(90). This phrase really puts an image in one’s mind, watching the pearl leave, and gives a good understanding of the mood of the final scene, how it is peaceful again and how everything is returning back to normal. “And the pearl settled into the lovely green water and dropped toward the bottom. The waving branches of the algae called to it and beckoned it. The lights on it’s surface were green and lovely”(90).
Another element that gives a clear image is the music that Kino hears throughout the book. At the beginning he frequently hears the Music of the Family. “And this was part of the family song too. It was all part. Sometimes it rose to an aching chord that caught the throat, saying this is safety, this is warmth, this is the Whole”(3). When the scorpion arrives the Song of Evil, “music of the enemy, of any foe of the family, a savage, secret, a dangerous melody”(5), overplays the Song of the Family. When Kino finds the pearl a new song arrives, the Song of the Pearl. This song starts out pleasant, but at the end of the book Kino describes it as being “distorted and insane”(89). The music gives good imagery of what Kino hears and gives the mood of the atmosphere through these songs.
As you can see imagery is displayed everywhere in The Pearl. It shows the mood of the scene through Steinbeck’s words and phrases. He relates the characters and phrases to animals, shows how the pearl itself can give imagery and affect the mood. The music also displays imagery through Kino and sets the atmosphere of the section of the book. Steinbeck does a wonderful job of setting the mood by imagery in this story.