February 25, 2014
Steinbeck Comparative Essay
The Pearl and Of Mice and Men, both parables by John Steinbeck, are two different books with several similarities. The two books are stories with comparable themes and characters. The Pearl is about an underprivileged man who finds fortune in a pearl and then his greed cheats him out of the fortune. It teaches him a lesson that money isn’t always the key to happiness. In the other novella, Of Mice and Men, two migrant farmers dream of owning land and living a better life, until one accidentally kills a girl and everything goes downhill for the two of them. There is resemblance between the characters traits, themes, and the author’s styles in the two stories.
The two characters that are going to be compared are Lennie and Coyotito. One example of how they are similar is that the two characters start the action in the story. For Coyotito it was the scorpion sting, and for Lennie it was the incident in Weed. That is one way these two characters are similar. A second way is that they both want to see them succeed. Kino dreams of getting the chance to send Coyotito to school one day. That is like George dreaming of Lennie tending the rabbits.The third similarity found between the two is that they cannot take care of themselves. Coyotito is a child so he must rely on Juana and Kino, while Lennie has a mental disability which makes it hard for him to look after himself. That’s why he has George. The last resemblance between the two is that they both get shot in the end. Sadly, George had to shoot Lennie because he knew if he didn’t Curley would because of the incident. So, George wanted him to die peacefully and he thought it would be better if he did it himself. For Kino, he didn’t know if Coyotito would live or not. He had to take the risk of leaving them to save them in order to get the rifle. However, Coyotito was shot before he could get to it. From these examples we can see how similar the characters are.
Steinbeck uses many different themes in his novels. One of which is Fate. Fate is a big theme in the two books that start off the story. The one moment that changed Kino and his families life was the scorpion sting. If that didn’t happen Kino would never have to go to the doctor who he couldn’t afford to then having to find a pearl which changed his life forever. In Of Mice and Men when Lennie “raped” the girl in the red dress they had to leave Weed. If they never had to leave Weed they wouldn’t have ever met Curley or his wife so Lennie wouldn’t have killed her which later caused his death. Fate changed both of these characters lives greatly.
Another important theme is powerlessness. An example of powerlessness is that that Coyotito is helpless because of his age. He is a baby and if something happens to him that he cannot do anything about he needs his parents to help, such as when the scorpion stung him. Lennie is helpless because of his physical abilities, he cannot control his strength. Another type of powerlessness is wealth. The men on the ranch are paid so little that it is difficult to save enough to make a dream like that come true. For Kino, he and his family has always been poor and the only way of getting rich and living a wealthier life is finding a pearl big enough for its worth. When a miracle happens and he finds a big pearl everything goes wrong because he gets greedy and wants more than the value that people are willing to pay for the pearl. Then terrible things happen to him and his family because of the pearl. Kino then realizes that money isn’t as important as family. This was one example of a theme.
Another theme is the essence of dreams. In Of Mice and Men Lennie, George, and Candy all want to own a plot of land. As one can see, they lost that dream because of Lennie being unable to control his strength. We learn that their dream of owning a farm cannot happen because they are far from attaining it because Lennie’s actions and they do not have enough money to pay for it. In The Pearl, Kino has a dream of becoming rich and wealthy some day even though he and his family seem very happy. When he finds the pearl he is determined to get as much money out of its worth. He soon is to realize that money doesn't always bring happiness. This is an example of another theme.
Foreshadowing is a specific style Steinbeck chooses to use in the two stories and all of his novels. An example of foreshadowing in The Pearl is how Juana was always suspicious of the pearl. She claimed it would bring danger to their son in the end it does. In Of Mice and Men there are many examples of foreshadowing. Lennie petting the dead mouse, Lennie having to leave Weed for the incident with the girl in the red dress, and Lennie killing his puppy. Those events all anticipate Lennie accidentally killing Curley’s wife and the death of Candy’s dog which then foresee the death of Lennie. Candy regrets that he didn’t kill his old dog himself, which anticipates George’s decision to shoot Lennie.
In conclusion, it is through John Steinbeck's characters, themes, and his ways of writing that makes these books similar. He demonstrates using parables that the characters lives are affected by their actions and desires. The themes show the challenges about human desire for success, pursuing their dreams, and how they are powerless. He illustrates the similarities in his stories also through different lessons, morals, and choices. From all the resemblances between Of Mice and Men and The Pearl we can now see how similar they are.