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    The Pearl: Music Essay (1190 words)

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    Music is known to be a quality that one possesses to produce harmony or make others feel pleasant through messages. Authors use descriptive writing to set the atmosphere in many stories. In the short story, “The Pearl,” John Steinbeck uses different types of music to introduce and set the atmosphere of the story. In this case, music is used to introduce evil, show family lifestyle, and demonstrate the significance of the pearl.

    John Steinbeck shows evil’s intrusion into Kino’s family by means of music. Evil is introduced into many scenes by its shadows and music. Kino, being the main character, is usually the first to hear it. “Kino stepped to the doorway and looked out… The thin dog came to him and threshed itself in greeting like a wind-blown flag, and Kino looked down at it and didn’t see it. He had broken through the horizons into a cold and lonely outside. He felt alone and unprotected, and scraping crickets and shrilling tree frogs and croaking toads seemed to be carrying the melody of evil.” Here, Kino hears the evil music carried out through the eyes of nature.

    The baby, Coyotito, is still and quiet, and does not know of the evil that is approaching. As for his illness, it has been cured when Kino first found the pearl. In time, a little after Kino hears this evil music, the doctor arrives having already heard about the baby’s miraculous recovery. The doctor informs Kino of Coyotito’s situation and how the illness will return. He then treats it with a small remedy. Kino knows Coyotito is not sick but accepts the doctor’s help to ensure his son’s health. Already knowing the doctor’s expectations in payment, Kino refuses to give up his pearl. Once the doctor leaves the house, Kino no longer hears the evil music that once played with his ears. Following the symptoms that the doctor assumed, Coyotito becomes ill and later returns to his original state. From this scene, one can deduce that Kino’s sense of evil comes from music and also that this is the form of writing that John Steinbeck uses to introduce an evil pretense.

    In this scene, evil music is used as a form of descriptive writing as it sets the atmosphere for the event about to take place. It also adds suspense, as one may not know where and when the evil shall strike. Steinbeck tries to emphasize the fact that this phenomenon that Kino hears is similar to what one may consider a sixth sense in modern times. Kino thus has the ability to anticipate evil before it actually appears in the plot.

    Music within the family is portrayed by a family prayer or song. This is sung by most of the poor families of the village, as it has an emotional effect on family lifestyles. “Juana sang softly an ancient song that had only three notes and yet endless variety of interval. 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.

    At this point, Kino awakens as usual to hear the sound of the family’s song. Here, John Steinbeck brings across the point that Kino’s family does this on a regular basis, and they consider it similar to a ritual. Steinbeck also stresses that the family music is what separates Kino’s family from the other villagers. In this scene, Kino also hears the sound of breakfast, pigs, and wives. These are all parts of music but belong to other families in the village. The song clearly demonstrates the bond between Kino and his family’s lives. John Steinbeck uses the music of the family as a belief, similar to how we believe in God and pray to Him.

    Kino’s family sings and believes in their unity. If their family were to fall apart, they would lose their purpose in life. The family uses their song as a form of motivation, something to strive for. Kino’s main point in life is to ensure a strong future for the family. The song coming from the pearl is similar to that of evil. The only difference is that it gives an illusion of good rather than evil. “All of these things Kino saw in the lucent pearl, and he said, We will have new clothes.’ And the music of the pearl rose like a chorus of trumpets in his ears. Then to the lovely gray surface of the pearl came the little things Kino wanted…His lips moved hesitantly over this? A rifle,’ he said. `Perhaps a rifle.'”

    From this quote, one can notice that as the song of the pearl continues, it grows stronger in Kino’s head, slowly separating him from his family. John Steinbeck brings the song of the pearl to use by changing the needs of Kino, bringing him closer to evil, as he wants more, and his greed grows stronger not only for his family but also for himself. In later parts of the story, Kino states that he would die if he had to give up the pearl. The song of the family that once held his morals in place was gone, as the song of the pearl had worked its way through to him. The song of the pearl is not used much throughout the story, “The Pearl,” but is used effectively as it constructs moral barriers that the main character must pass, thus having its subplot throughout the story.

    As any reader may notice, the song of the pearl slowly takes away the soul of the main character. It thus grants itself a shadow in the “evil song.” Because the pearl’s music so closely resembles that of the evil music, many cannot capture the fact of how the pearl’s music is truly used. Nearing the end of the story, the song of the pearl is actually what prompts Kino to kill the thieves, being more dominant than the “evil song.” The pearl’s music brings Kino to its captivity, thus proving that the music of the pearl takes the side of evil. All three forms of music definitely have their unique form of expression. Once the pearl enters the plot of the story, all the forms of music come into effect. “Juana watched him with worry, but she knew him, and she knew she could help him best by being silent and by being near. And as though she too could hear the Song of Evil, she fought it, singing softly the melody of the family, of the safety and warmth, and wholeness of the family.” This quote shows a great effect of the pearl’s music, evil music, and the family music on Kino.

    He is tempted away from his morals of the family. Although Juanna tries to rid the evil music, she senses that it has already wrapped its hands around Kino, her husband. By using this method, John Steinbeck compares the two types of music, good and evil, to the devil himself and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus, similar to Kino, is tempted by the devil’s tricks, but both do not give in.

    Although Kino is tempted to a further extent and actually kills because of his greed, he realizes how much value his family has to him, and that there is no price that can compensate for the loss of his child. From the above arguments, the fact that music’s role in “The Pearl” is dominant over the plot can be proved. One can now state that its influence over Kino, the main character, provoked the plot, and influenced him throughout this story. The fact that evil music introduced an evil subplot can also be stated.

    Another main point is that the music of the pearl itself was “primordial,” and that it was disguised only to lead the reader to believe that the pearl brought evil to its owner. Throughout life, music has been used effectively to express emotions. In “The Pearl,” music’s value to mankind is truly shown. As it is well known, music is the soul of life.

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    The Pearl: Music Essay (1190 words). (2019, Jan 04). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-pearl-music-64756/

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