Temptations Lead to Tragedy

By Gunjin Y., 6th Grade

September 2017

In Steinbeck’s The Pearl and Tolstoy’s “How Much Land Does A Man Need?” the colonizers and the devil are similar in the way that they tempt the protagonists into going for too much and making them lose their lives.  When Pahom overhears his wife praising the country life, he agrees that he is happy, but says that “if I had plenty of land, I would not fear the devil himself.” Meanwhile, the Devil, who is hiding behind the oven, maliciously whispers, “I’ll give you land enough; and by means of that land I will get you into my power.”  The passage demonstrates how the Devil will tempt Pahom with land and his obvious death.  The devil takes the form of regular townsfolk that walk by Pahom’s land and gives him the opportunity to get more and better land.  Pahom does not realize that the land is what the devil uses to tempt him. Just as the devil tempts Pahom with land, the colonizers tempt Kino with their lifestyle.  After the pearl of the world has been found, Kino invites his neighbours  to listen to his plans for the pearl.  ”Then to the lovely gray surface of the pearl came the little things Kino wanted.” This portion of the text illustrates that Kino has been lured by the Colonizers’ life and now wants that life for himself.  He sees Coyotito educated, a rifle, a harpoon, clothes, and a marriage in a church, the things that only the colonizers have.  Kino now wants that life for he is able to get it.  The temptation of a better life causes Kino and Pahom to act irrationally.  While Pahom is greedily taking land, he notices that his time is almost up, so he rushes back to the hillock with the hat upon it.  “His breast was working like a blacksmith’s bellows, his heart was beating like a hammer, and his legs were giving way as if they did not belong to him.”  This quote shows how Pahom’s body was starting to give way to his tiredness.  Pahom has greedily taken too much land and now in his race back to the hat he is starting to slowly lose energy.  Pahom’s body is compared to tools to show how hard each part of the body is working.   Pahom should’ve known better than keeping on running and Kino should’ve known better than to hold onto the pearl when there are immediate threats.  As Kino awakens, he sees Juana escaping to the ocean with the pearl.  His instincts kicks in and he pursues Juana.  “Kino looked down at her and his teeth were bared.  He hissed at her like a snake, and Juana stared at him with wide frightened eyes, like a sheep before the butcher” (Steinbeck 328). This excerpt makes clear that Kino will stop at nothing to get what he desires from the pearl.  Kino saw that Juana was trying to throw the pearl away, but he wouldn’t let her and beat her to get the pearl back.  This quote compares Kino to a snake, and Juana to a sheep before a butcher.  It shows how ruthless kino would be to make his dreams come true.  Even though only religious people talk about temptation, all of us can be tempted and we all need to learn to overcome it.