The Pearl

  • by John Steinbeck
  • Narrated by Hector Elizondo
  • 2 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this short book illuminated by a deep understanding and love of humanity, John Steinbeck retells an old Mexican folk tale: the story of the great pearl, how it was found, and how it was lost. For the diver Kino, finding a magnificent pearl means the promise of a better life for his impoverished family. His dream blinds him to the greed and suspicions the pearl arouses in him and his neighbors, and even his loving wife cannot temper his obsession or stem the events leading to the tragedy.
For Steinbeck, Kino and his wife illustrate the fall from innocence of people who believe that wealth erases all problems. Originally published in 1947, The Pearl shows why Steinbeck’s style has made him one of the most beloved American writers: it is a simple story of simple people, recounted with the warmth and sincerity and unrivaled craftsmanship Steinbeck brings to his writing. It is tragedy in the great tradition, beautifully conveying not despair but hope for mankind.


Audible Editor Reviews

Of John Steinbeck's many classic novels, only one is beloved by ninth graders everywhere. Finally in a definitive audiobook edition, The Pearl as read by Hector Elizondo is a long overdue treat for listeners of all ages. Whether you skipped this required reading in high school or simply don't remember much about it, now is the time to revisit Steinbeck's excellent little vision of an ancient Mexican folk tale about the perils of obsessive greed. A story of great symbolism and unflinching morality, the lessons here are no less true in our contemporary circumstances than they were hundreds of years ago.
Hector Elizondo is a perfect fit for this narration. Winner of an Emmy and an Obie, veteran of both screen and stage, Elizondo is no stranger to the gravitas of parables. Although he has contributed voice work to a dozen audiobook dramas with ensemble casts, this is the first time he has narrated a book completely on his own. What a treat to hear his familiar grizzled voice painting the scene of a tiny, impoverished town in need of a miracle. When a scorpion bites a young family man's infant son, the man becomes desperate for money to pay the doctor that can save the child's life.
Upon finding an enormous pearl deep in the water and just in the nick of time, the family begins to dream of their son's bright future. Elizondo puts his grit and gravel to good use conveying the tenacity with which the family clings to the idea of sending their son to school, thus escaping their meager life of poverty. But the enchanting music of the pearl speaks to the whole town, and soon all are clamoring for a piece of the family's good fortune. Hector Elizondo impeccably renders John Steinbeck's haunting admonition against avarice, and this short novel is a must-have for any audio library. —Megan Volpert


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Stay poor

I am a fan of JS, but not of this book. I like JS style of writing and how he writes about the down trodden of society. In this story we have a couple who are so poor, they live in a straw hut, often go hungry and can't afford medicine for there child. In the beginning their child gets stung by a scorpion, but the doctor will not help, because they do not have money. The same day they find a pearl the size of a goose egg. It should be worth lots of money, but collecting the money is not that easy. The pearl brings them an unimaginable amount of bad luck. The story is extremely depressing and irritating. JS's message seems to be that if you are dirt poor, you should stay that way and not try to better yourself. If you have not read JS, I would suggest you start with Cannery Row.
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- Jim "The Impatient" "My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books."

Greed or Hope?

After reading in the 80s and now again to help my daughter with her homework, I view this book differently. I appreciate Steinbeck's straightforward, succinct writing style using the man versus nature theme here and everywhere.

Kino and Juana search desperatly for a way to save their child and the pearl seems like a benevolent gift from nature. The townspeople, doctor, and traders become envious and attempt to cheat and/or steal from Kino as he seeks to obtain a fair price and better his family's situation.

Artfully written, "The Pearl" set the precedent for many stories and movie plots to follow (watch, "A Simple Plan" if you enjoyed this book). My current take sides with Kino's hope to improve his station in life and I don't believe he's greedy to do so. If you haven't read this classic, the ending is tragic and satisfying provoking you to question your and others' motives. Could listen to this one again and again and probably will.
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- FanB14 "Short, Simple, No Spoilers"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-15-2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio