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Exam Style Pearl Essays Questions and Answers

Below are essays with answers from The Pearl Set Text. These test questions and answers are the type that are set in the national exams, with ways of how to answer and description.

You can also easily download these essays as pdf to read online whenever you need.

The essays below are mostly in marking scheme format. With points that examiners check.

It should be noted that in an exam situation, essays should be written in prose and not point form as in some of the examples below. In an exam, the "Introduction", "Body" and "Conclusion" titles should not be added in your essays. The examples below just guide on the format that your essays should take.

‘Our lives are controlled by destiny’ Using illustrations from ‘The Pearl’, write an essay to support this statement.

Introduction ( 2mks)

Forces beyond one’s control shape our destiny. What a number of characters go through in the Pearl is pre-determined.
Accept any other relevant introduction.


-The death of baby Coyotito is pre-determined. However much the family tries to protect and save him, he finally passes on when they are attacked by the attackers.

-Kino returns the Pearl to the sea. This is after he unsuccessfully tries to sell it. The pearl buyers collude to deny him the opportunity to sell it by setting very low price for it.

-Failure by Kino to get to the Pearl Buyer or the best price is beyond his control. This is what makes him to finally realize that it is the pearl that is turning him into an animal and a target of thieves that he throws it back to the sea.

-The stinging of the baby. The scorpion stings the baby irrespective of Kino’s attempt to kill it. This is foreshadowed by the music of Evil in Kino mind and the music of the enemy.


Any valid conclusion summarizing the points
Gramma 4mks
Mark any 4 well developed points
Introduction (2mks)
Conclusion (2mks)
Grammar (4mks)

“A society driven by greed suffers alot” Using illustrations from “The Pearl” by JohnSteinbeck, write an essay to support the statement.

-Kino’s greed for wealth after his discovery of the pearl brings out the worst of him when he retreats into a man driven by the desire to guard his treasure even at the expense of life. He Kills to protect his Pearl. Coyotito’s life is lost as he pursues a better life.

-The doctor is driven by greed and this brings out the nasty inner man he is. He is painted as one of the inheritors of colonial evils - greed topping the list.
He is repulsive of Kino on his first Counter but he hears about the discovery of the pearl, he makes a quick turn just to benefit.
- The pearl buyers all salivate at making a kill when news of Kino’s newly found pearl reaches them. They all strategize to exploit Kino even by dismissing the worth of the pearl.

Materialism and greed are inherent nature of human beings. Discuss the statement, basing your arguments on the Pearl.

1. General or context based

Introduction: It is the nature of human beings to wrongly desire what isn’t theirs. Such is the case in The Pearl as seen through characters such as The Doctor, The Priest, Pearl buyers etc.


The Doctor: Wants to take advantage of Coyotito’s sickness to get the Pearl. Upon learning that Kino has found a pearl he visits Kino and yet he had turned him away earlier. He tries to trick Kino into giving him the Pearl. He also observes Kino’s eyes with an intention of knowing where the Pearl could be buried.

The Priest: Wants to take advantage of Kino’s and Juana’s marriage. He pays Kino a visit with intentions of getting some of the proceeds of the Pearl. He is keen to remind Kino to give thanks in church, he also wishes to med him and baptize his son. This is because they can now pay for this.

Pearl buyers: They conspire on how to deal with Kino who has found “the pearl of the world”. They lie to him about the actual cost of the Pearl. They offer very little when in actual sense it is a very expensive pearl.

The trackers: They track Kino and follow him all the way with intentions of forcefully taking the pearl from him. From Juana we learn that they will not spare Kino, his wife and son in their efforts of getting the Pearl.

Attackers: They attack Kino on several occasions and injure him. They burn down Kino’s house and destroy his boat- his source of livelihood.


Give opinion or recap the points that have been highlighted.

“Greed leads to evil.” Write a composition to show the truth of this statement using illustrations from John Steinbeck’s The Pearl.

Accept a relevant introduction

- The doctor declines to treat Kino’s child, Coyotito, of the scorpion sting because he has no money (has only small worthless pearls).

- The pearl buyers are out to take advantage of Kino and his pearl. Their goal is to cheat him and ruin his plans of happiness and peace for his family.

- The doctor comes to take advantage of Kino’s ignorance by making Coyotito sick and pretending that his illness is the result of the scorpion sting. He pretends as if he does not know of Kino’s pearl, yet the only reason he has come to treat Coyotito was to tr yand seek out where Kino might be hiding it.

- Kino is attacked several times as the attackers want to rob him of the pearl of the world.

- The pearl turns Juana and Kino against one another. At the beginning of the story, they are very close but the pearl divides them. Kino attacks and injures his wife when she wants to throw it into the sea.

- Kino is forced to kill a man to defend himself and the pearl.

- His hut is burned after someone searching for the pearl has ransacked it.

- Trackers follow Kino and his family and they have to hide in the mountain.

Finally, Kino’s child is shot.

Accept a relevant conclusion.

“Appearance can be deceptive” With close reference to the text The Pearl write an essay in support of the statement.

Some things happen in our lives and we think they are blessings. The appearance of a person can appear to glitter when in real sense the character is rotten. It is usually a rude shock when we realize that outward appearances can be deceptive. This is shown clearly in JohnSteinbeck’s novel, The Pearl.

When Kino find the Pearl of the World, he has great dreams. He believes the pearl would drastically improve his life and that of his family. He hopes to marry Juana in church, buy new clothes, educate his son, replace his lost harpoon and buy himself a rifle. Unfortunately, his dreams are shattered. There are attempts to steal it and his life is threatened several times. He does not sell it at a low price offered by the pearl buyers. Consequently, Juana declares it evil and attempts to throw it back to the sea. Kino follows her and wretches the pearl from her hand and strikes her with his clenched fist and kicks her on the side. He later kills a man, his canoe is vandalized, their brush house is burnt down and they are forced to flee to save their lives. They lose their only child and return home broken only to throw the pearl back to the sea. The glitter in the pearl, finally brings them misfortune and they lose all what they had treasured.

The priest stands for the moral authority in La Paz. Kino's dream is to be married in his church. When he says that discrimination is God designed, Kino and Tomas take it as gospel truth. Unfortunately, we find that Kino and Juana are not married in church and Coyotito's is not baptized simply because they cannot pay. When the priest comes to their house he tactfully tells Kino that he is named after a great man and a great Father of the church. He tells them to remember to give thanks to Him who had given them the treasure. As a result his moral fiber becomes questionable since he is motivated by greed and hopes to benefit from Kino's Pearl. This is contrary to the kind of person we expect of him.

A doctor's profession is admired by many people. When we meet him, he is sitting up in his high bed, dressed in a gown of red watered silk and he is taking breakfast from a silver tray with a silver chocolate pot and tiny cup of egg-shell China. Among the furnishing of his room are religious pictures and a large tinted photograph of his late wife. We are surprised to learn that he is discontented in life and harbours memories of high life with a mistress in Paris. Moreover, he refuses to treat Coyotito who has been stung by a scorpion because the family cannot afford his medical fee. When he learns that Kino has a valuable pear, he ironically says Kino is a client of his and that he is treating his child for a scorpion sting. His greed and opportunism is evident when he makes the recovering child sick in order to treat him and be paid from the proceeds of the pearl. All the above prove that appearances can be deceptive.

The stout pearl buyer's face looks fatherly and benign and his eyes twinkled with friendship. He is a caller of good-mornings, a ceremonious shaker of hands, and a jolly man who knew all jokes. However, his deception is revealed when Kino entered his office to sell the pearl. His eyes become as steady and cruel and unwinding as a hawk's eyes while the rest of his face smiled in greeting. He cheats that he is going to value and give Kino the best price. After examining the pearl, he puts on a sad and contemptuous smile and declares it a fool's gold and a curiosity only suitable for a museum. He even invites other dealers to support his opinion. His presence is revealed when he, together with other dealers panic when Kino refuses to sell the pearl to him. He further offers to give one thousand five hundred pesos. This proves that his appearance is deceptive.


Greed for worldly possessions can lead to in controllable madness. Using Kino, draw illustrations from John Steinbeck’s The Pearl.

Introduction -Kino's determination to fight poverty and guarantee a future of comfort and security is rewarded with a rare find of the greatest pearl in the world. However, such determination is marked with a mad obsession that blocks him from being reasonable (Sober)

-A thief gets into his house and attempts to steal the pearl from where he buried it. Kino fights the thief off with a knife. He however receives a blow on his head and Juana has to nurse him.

Her plea for Kino to throw the pearl "This pearl is like sin! It will destroy us"is met with a stubborn resolve to keep it.

-When Kino steps out of his brush house, Juana hears a little rush, a grunting struggle and a blow. In terror, she comes out with a stone from the fire place only to find Kino on the ground struggling to rise. He had been attacked by a thief in need of the pearl. She entreats him to do away with the pearl: Let us throw it back in the sea where It belongs Kino, it is evil, it is evil! Kino is determined to defend and protect it at all costs.

-At cock-crow, Kino senses his wife moving quietly to the fireplace and takes the pearl intending to throw it into the sea. He follows her, wrenches the pearl out of her hands and strikes her in the face with his clenched fist. She falls among the boulders and he kicks her in the side. He becomes violent and half insane.

-As he moves away from his wife, Kino is attacked and his attackers ransack him. Luckily, the pearl drops from his hand and falls near a stone. He kills a man with his knife. Kino and his family attempt to flee from their village, but to his dismay, his canoe has a hole in it. He was an animal now, for hiding for attacking

-Kino is not ready to take advice from Juan Tomas or Juana, his wife and get rid of the pearl. He says the pearl has become his soul. "If I give it up I shall lose my

Kino readily counters any threats to himself and his family. He ceases to be human and becomes an animal. Kino kills the three trackers in a moment of sheer madness. "...the big knife swung free in his right hand."

The Pearl potrays humans as beings inherently greedy. Show the validity of this statement with reference to The Pearl.

Sample introduction

Greed is evident throughout the text as exhibited from the actions of various characters in the text. Kino, a pearl fisherman finds superb pearl. News of this great discovery spread to admiration and greed for the pearl in equal measure.

Points to consider The priest on hearing about the finding of the pearl starts to think of the need for church repairs. He wonders whether Kino and Juana have been properly married
(in church and whether Coyotito has been baptized. As a result, he makes a trip to Kon's village driven by greed to lay his hand on the newly found fortune. His was an indirect approach.
After Kino finds the pearl, the doctor, who had a first refused to treat Coyotito, takes upon himself to deliver the medicine to 'cure'Coyotito. He injects Coyotito
with a drug to ensure he is sick so as to later 'cure' him. While in the homestead, his darting eyes are focused on kino to get a clue on where the pearl might be hidden. This shows his greedy nature.

The pearl buyers had opened different offices in town with a sole aim of exploiting the pearl fishermen. They had collaborated with an aim of buying the pearl at the cheapest price and when Kino fails to fall for their trap they dismiss his pearl of being of poor quality. This portrays their greed.

The pearl exposes Kino's family to so much danger. There are a number of attempts to end his life. Those responsible were driven by greed. they wanted to own the pearl due to its fortune. At the same time, Kino killed in self defense. His hut is burnt down and his boat is knocked. All this shows the greedy nature of the thieves who want to own the pearl.
Greed is also noted among the beggars who pinched camp outside the church. They also hope to benefit from pearl for they know there is no alms giver like a poor man who suddenly becomes rich. They believe that when Kino sells the pearl they will benefit.

The villagers followed every detail concerning Kino's pearl through Kino's brother Juan Toma. This shows some element of greed. Conclusion It is evident that greed for material wealth is inherent even in some cases where individual effort has not been raised.

Introduction: 2mks
Body 3:3:3:3 12mks
Conclusion 2mks
Language 4mks
Total  20mks

Using the Pearl by John Steinbeck, write an essay to support the proverb," All that Glitters is not gold"

Introduction (2 mks)

As the proverb state all that glitters is not gold, we can agree with this proverb as in "The Pearl" we see that Kino gets a great pearl that can provide a better life for him and his family, however, it is through the same pearl that Kino loses everything.

Body (12 mks) For points of interpretation (4 x 3 = 12 mks)

Kino loses his canoe. After killing a man who has attempted to steal the pearl, Kino intend to escape with the family. He finds that the canoe had been destroyed by being punctured with a hole. The boat is a pined possession to Kino and his people Pg 87. This was an evil beyond thinking. The Killing of a man was not so evil as the killing of a boat, for a boat does not have soul, and a boat cannot protect itself, and a wounded boat does not heal. Kino felt sorrow in his rage. Pg 32. Kino's canoe was the one thing of value he owned in the world. The canoe had been handed down from his grandfather to the father and family to Kino. It was at one property and source of food for a man with a boat could guarantee a woman that she will eat something. It is the bull work against starvation.

Coyotito dies. In Kino's struggle with the trackeses who were out to get the pearl, Coyotito is killed. The trackers catch up with Kino as he is on his way to sell the pearl in the capital pg 114. One of the trackers shoots Coyotito thinking that it is a Coyotea after he hears Coyotito's cry and thinks that it is the one of a Coyoto.

Coyotito is Kino's only child and Kino loves him a lot. He goes for pearl fishing so that he can get a pearl when he can use to pay the doctor to cure him of a scorpion lot. When he gets the pearl, he intends to take Coyotito to speed and to buy his new clothes (pg 45). At the end Kino loses the very person he intends to provide a better life for.

Kino loses his home. Kino's brush house is burnt by one of the attackers and they end up fining shelter at Juan. Thomas and Apolonia's home. Pg 88. He save a little glove
of him, and then without internal a tall flame leaped up in the dork with a cracking roar, a tall edifice of fire lighted the pathway. Kino broke into a run; it was his brush house, he knew it.
Kino loses his dignity. When Kino finds the "pearl of the World" all manner of people became interested in the pearl. He is attended by different dark figures who want the pearl and he ends up killing a man and the attackers pg 58, Kino held his breath to listen and he knew that whatever dark thing was in his house holding its breath too.... And then he sprang like an angry at. Leaped striking and sporting, for the dark thing he knew was in the corner of his house .... And he raised the blade and looked at it and saw a little line of blood on the steel
Pg 84. He heard the rush, got his knife out and lunged at one dark figure and he felt his knife go home...... ..... not in an instant, Juma knew that the old life was gone forever. A dead man in the path and Kino's knife, dark-bladed beside him.

He also kills the trackers pg 115. By tying to defend and pulled the pearl he ends up killing all these people

A person’s character can at times lead to their downfall’. Drawing examples from Kino’s life, write an essay to justify this statement.(20marks)

1. The students must use adjectives of behaviour in the body.
2. Must begin with on introduction written in a separate paragraph, followed by the
body which should have atleast four separate paragraphs. Each paragraph should have a negative character trait identified, illustration showing how that character
is manifested and how it leads to the character's downfall.
3. The students should only focus on kino as a character and not any other
4. For the conclusion, let the learner give a summary and a remedial statement in the same paragraph (concluding paragraph) to get the (2marks). If only one is given then give (1 mark)

Examples of introduction

In life, many people get into trouble just because of some of their characters. This is also well illustrated in John Steinbecks novel. The pearl, in which he presents to us a character Kino who falls into many challenges just because of his mannerism.

Kino is vengeful / racist/temperamental As the procession taking Coyotito to the doctor get to his gate, Kino hesitates for a moment. This doctor is not of his people.' He was of a race which for nearly four hundred years had beaten and starved and robbed and despised Kino's race. Kino is filled with fear and anger due to the prejudice that the doctor's race had towards his race. Due to his racists and
vengeful nature, he crushes the doctors gate with his fist only to injure his knuckles to an extend that they bleed. (This applies to all of the three points)

Kino is a racist - When Kino sees the doctor at his doorway after getting the great pearl, he is raged with hatred and fear for hundreds of years of subjugation were cut deep in him. He hates the doctor's race for having oppressed his race for a long time. This now makes him suffer fear and apprehension.

Kino's materialistic nature make him not sell the pearl. When he goes to sell the pearl, he turns down the pearl buyers' offer of 1000 pesos, yet the neighbours knew that it was only yesterday that he had nothing. Another dealer offers 500 pesos to him and he snatches him the pearl and wraps it in a deerskin and thrust it inside his shirt. Even when the first dealer says that he can now offer fifteen hundred pesos, Kino goes away with the pearl pushing his way through the crowd.

Kino's defiant / insensitive nature lead to the loss of their only son Juana warns him that the pearl is evil and they should destroy it before it destroys them to which he refuses. He says he will win over it because he is a man. She even tells him a man can be killed and he insists he is a man. At the end he aims and fires between the frantic frightened eyes only to kill his son. He had even earliest on confessed to Juam Tomas that it is his misfortune but he will keep it.

Kino's brutal nature make him kill a man which agitates the neighbours forcing them to destroy his canoe and burn his house. When she follows Juana at night when she goes to throw the pearl back into the sea he beats her and she later on sees a stranger with dark shiny fluid leaking from his throat. She knows it is a dead man killed by Kino's knife which lay beside him. He confesses to her that he killed to save his life. They plan to escape only to get his boat with a splintered hole broken in it. His house is also set of fire forcing him to seek refuge at his brother's place.

NB- Mark any other relevant point that is well identified, illustrated and explained.

Easy come easy go. Write a composition to show the truth of this statement using illustrations from JohnSteinbeck’s The Pearl.


The things we get easily in life do not last most of the time. It is however the case that the things we strive to get are a blessing to us. This case is clearly brought out through some of the characters in John Steinbeck's text The Pearl.


Following the sickness of Coyotito, Kino and wife set out to try their luck in getting a means of getting payment for his treatment. Juana remains hopeful that the husband will get a pearl by which they can get Coyotito treated. This does not take long as Kino gets a pearl of the world.

Kino and the wife get moved by this discovery and hope that it will transform their lives. The villagers also hope to benefit from it. It however does not take long before Kino starts experiencing attacks at night. Attempts by Kino to have a good sale from the Pearl do not bear fruits as the pearl buyers can only offer one thousand pesos.

His attempts to move on and sell it elsewhere turns out tragic as he is followed by trackers. The result of a confrontation with them is the death of Coyotito. After realizing that the pearl does not give him peace, Kino follows the wife's advice and throws the pearl back to the sea. With this, the pearl does not improve Kino's life in any way, it only disrupts it.


It is true that things people have not struggled enough for may not be of much benefit.

Questions to help understand the novel better


  1. In what ways does Kino defy the patterns of life in the town and how does this change him

    Kino begins the novel poor and unable to think beyond the confines of his native fishing village. After discovering of the pearl, however, Kino begins to dream of possibilities for his family, most notably an education for his son, that were previously unthinkable. He sees these dreams materialize when he looks into the pearl's surface. Because he cannot simply ignore these dreams he embarks upon a course of action which eventually makes him a fugitive from his own village and a killer of men several times over. The people of the town did not trust their eyes due to the effects of the Gulf mist, yet Kino believes the things he first sees in the pearl and is deceived. The image of his son receiving an education is replaced by an image of the boy's dead body; similarly, the image of Kino and Juana being married in the church is replaced by an image of her bruised and swollen face after he has beaten her. When he returns to the village, defeated by the death of his son, he first offers Juana the chance to throw the pearl into the sea. This indicates that he has learned to appreciate her judgement and is, in a sense, yielding to her. That she insists that he be the one to throw the pearl into the sea indicates that she remains faithful to their previous way of life and, as she has always done, seeks to preserve it.

  2. Throughout the story Kino and Juana are attuned to ancient songs that warn them of evil or nurture their sense of family. In what way do these songs serve as rhetorical devices to further the parable?

    The use of the songs allows Steinbeck to emphasize Kino and Juana's essential innocence and connection with the natural world and also allows the author to sharply delineate between those things in the story which are to be read as "evil" and those that are understood to be "good". Thus, the Priest is accompanied by the song of evil and the reader knows, without being told in so many words, not to take his statements at face value. The stone that Juana uses to grind the corn, although a facet of her family's poverty, is accompanied by the song of the family and the reader is led to infer that in these simple things does the strength of goodness reside for Kino and his people.

  3. The narrator says that to Juana men were "half-gods and half insane" and that she believed women capable of saving men at times through the woman's natural qualities of "reason, caution and sense of preservation." How are these gender roles vital to the story?

    Kino believes he can capitalize on the wealth of the pearl because as a man in his native society he has always been the decision-maker and source of physical strength that has provided for its survival. Though he is initially frightened to go to the city he decides that he must make the journey in order that his family will not merely survive but prosper. Juana knows that because Kino is a man he will "drive his strength against a mountain" but "in her woman's soul" she knows that "the mountain would stand while the man broke himself." For this reason she attempts to dissuade Kino. In order for her way of life to continue, however, she must yield to his decisions until he can understand the pearl's evil himself.

  4. What characters in the novel are portrayed as overtly good or evil? What characters are portrayed as ambiguous?

    Of all the characters in the novel that of the Doctor is rendered most starkly evil and that of Juana is rendered most steadfastly good. The scene in which the Doctor dupes Juana by simply re-poisoning Coyotito and then pretends to cure him makes the Doctor seem all the more duplicitous and she all the more innocent. Ambiguous characters include the pearl buyers who, though they seek to purchase the pearls at the lowest price, are simply acting in accordance with the dictates of their profession and the trackers who doggedly pursue Kino and his family into the wilderness who, like the pearl buyers are not inherently good or bad but merely performing their duty to the best of their ability.

  5. In what ways is The Pearl a political novel?

    The Pearl is the story of a poor indian whose people have been subjugated for over four hundred years. While the descendents of the Europeans live in stone houses, surrounded by walls, Kino and his people live in grass shacks with earth floors. Kino's struggle to better the lot of his family and his eventual failure can be read as a condemnation of the economic system which prevents Kino from realizing the value of the great pearl. Significantly, Kino's most cherished dream is that his son might receive an education and free his people from the cycle of poverty and ignorance. Coyotito's death, however, destroys Kino's family and serves as a painful reminder that the injustices, which his people have always suffered, will not be overturned by the actions of an individual. The horror of Kino's failure reminds the reader of the need for reform and aid in societies where such action cannot be successfully implemented by the dispossessed.
  6. Discuss the various animal imagery that functions throughout the novel: the ants, the scorpion, the hissing snakes, the schools of fish, the oysters, the dogs, and the pearl buyers as octopuses, etc.
  7. Describe in detail Kino and Juana's simple life before and after the discovery of the pearl.
  8. How does Steinbeck characterize the doctor? How does he let the reader know that the white powder which the doctor administers to Coyotito is actually a poison which would kill the baby if the doctor did not return?
  9. How does the priest function as a travesty of religion?
  10. Why are the pearl buyers referred to as "fatherly" and "benevolent"? How does this contradict their real purposes? Are they also victimized?
  11. Why are the "dark ones" and the trackers never identified? What is gained by Steinbeck's not identifying them?
  12. A symbol can change its meaning during the course of a novel. How does the pearl change its meaning during the course of this novel?
  13. Kino believes that it would be better to kill a person than to kill a canoe because a canoe has no relatives to revenge it. What types of values are operative in such a statement?
  14. Kino and Juana function more or less on a primitive level in their lives and in their religion, yet they both want a church wedding and a christening for Coyotito. How are these values consistent with their lives? How are they contradictory?
  15. What is the function of the many songs that Kino hears during the course of the novel?


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