The Pearl, a novella published in 1947 by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck, inspired after visiting La Paz, Baja California Sur in an expedition with his friend, marine biologist, Ed Ricketts. Near La Paz, an island called Isla Espiritu Santo that’s considered the “crown jewel” of the Gulf. Many pearl divers find a lot of these precious gems in the area. The novel, East of Eden, was published in 1952 by the same author John Steinbeck who considered it his magnum opus. Steinbeck wrote the book for his sons to tell them the background of the country he grew up in. The sight, the smells, and colors.
In the book, The Pearl, the setting is La Paz, Mexico. The novella opens up describing the everyday life of a family. Kino, a young, strong man who is a poor pearl diver that collects them to provide for his wife, Juana, and his son Coyotito for meager money. Then it all changes when Kino emerges from the sea with a pearl that was “perfect as a moon” and large as a seagull’s egg. “It was the greatest pearl in the world”. With the pearl came security, comfort, and hope, but also evil and greed. The pearl brought greed in a way when people heard of Kino’s finding, they grew interest in him. The pearl went into the dreams and plans of everyone. Which made Kino every man’s enemy. Sadly for them, the family thought they could escape Kino’s mistakes, but ended up being followed by the evil of greedy men and death.
East of Eden sets primarily in the Salina Valley, California between the beginning of the 20th century and the end of World War I. Some chapters take place way back in the Civil War or in other states. As Steinbeck sets the outline of the Salina Valley, he introduces a tender headed farmer, Samuel Hamilton, and his wife Liza, who are immigrants from Ireland. Time flies by, when suddenly a wealthy stranger arrives, Adam Trask, with his wife, Cathy Ames and purchases the ranch near Samuel Hamilton in the Valley. Cathy Ames is described as a “malformed soul” who enjoys to destroying people. Cathy left from her home and burned her house leaving her parents to burn up into flames. She then became a mistress to a whoremaster, who beated her up as he finds out that she has been using him. He then leaves her severely injured in Adam’s and Charles, Adam’s brother, doorstep. Adam falls in love with Cathy, unaware of her past, and marries her. However that same night of the marriage, Adam unawared, Cathy goes to Charles bedroom and seduces him.
They arrive and settle in the Valley, near the Hamilton ranch, and Cathy ends up finding out that she’s pregnant. Cathy does not want to be a mother or live in California. Shortly after, she gives birth to twins, and shoots Adam in the shoulder as she flees. Cathy then became a prostitute in a brothel in the city of Salinas and renames herself “Kate Albaney”. She makes a plan to get close enough with the owner, Faye, to inherit the brothel and to kill her easily without suspicion. She turns her new and infamous brothel into into a place of sexual sadism. Adam fell in deep depression. He then is snapped out of it and names and raises the babies with the cook, Lee and Sam Hamilton, who helps name the babies, Aron and Caleb, after characters in the bible.
In the novel, Steinbeck describes the story of Cain and Abel, from the Book of Genesis within the Trasks. In the Book of Genesis, Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to God. The shepherd Abel offers God his best lamb, while Cain, a farmer, offers Him grain. God preferred Abel’s offering instead of Cain’s, making him jealous and ending up killing Abel. The first generation in the motif is Charles and Adam. Cyrus Trask, their father, favors Adam’s birthday gift, a puppy, over Charles expensive knife because Cyrus loves Adam more. Charles almost beat Adam to death over jealousy. The last generation, Aron and Caleb. When Caleb offers 15,000 dollars to Adam, he gets mad that Caleb has taken advantage of farmers during war-time. He gets really mad that he takes Aron to their mother’s brothel, making Arons belief of their mother being dead a lie. Aron gets heartbroken and enlists in the army, resulting in his death. Inadvertently, Caleb killed Aron.