Kino is an impoverished native fisherman, but more important is his allegorical role as a man faced with the temptation of wealth beyond his wildest dreams. Because the novella is concerned with Kino’s moral obligation and not his civic obligation, it concludes with Kino’s casting the pearl back into the sea, a renunciation of material wealth that indicates he has learned a moral lesson. It is important that the novella does not conclude with Kino’s arrest or continuing flight from justice, as a realistic novel concerned with civic punishment for ethical transgression might.
Steinbeck wrote The Pearl based on his personal convictions, and based the story on the biblical parable of a ?pearl of great price.' In this story, a jewel for which the merchant trades everything he owns becomes the metaphor for Heaven. Everything in the merchant's earthly existence, however, becomes worthless when compared to the joys of living with God in Heaven. However, Steinbeck uses the parable as a meditation on the American dream of success. Steinbeck, who himself had risen quickly to prosperity, explores how Kino , the protagonist of The Pearl, deals with his newfound prominence in the community and riches.
Although Kino and Juana are representative of the larger community in which they live, this community itself becomes significant in terms of the development of the story. This village takes on a character of its own; this is shown in particular when Juana and Kino visit the doctor and their neighbors follow in a near procession. These nameless villagers serve as a form of chorus on the action of the story, commenting on the developments and judging the decisions and events that occur to Kino. The idea of community is also significant in terms of the various songs that Kino remembers. These songs are entirely symbolic, meant to place Kino in the larger, less personal context as a member of a community with a sense of heritage and to reinforce his status as an everyman. The two songs that Kino remembers during this chapter, the Song of the Family and the Song of Evil, also place the story in a context with diametric opposites; the story is largely a parable with defined parameters of good and evil.