Surrounded by a world of social classes and classifications, where natives are treated as a lower class, and discriminated by the ruling class, Kino the main character of the novella The Pearl by John Steinback is forced to deal with the disadvantages of being a little Indian lacking the social standing he needs to stand up for his family. He is seen as a reliant and useless man unworthy of a white persons time. Kinos struggle trough the story caused by the uncooperative ruling class expresses Steinbacks attitudes towards the native populations conjugated by the white power structure in a modern society.
Kinos treasure attacks many people interested in the wealth the pearl can bring. One of these many is the priest. His individual needs bring him to the door of and Indian man who he sees as a child that can be easily manipulated with the correct use of words. The news of the pearl quickly spread, It came to the priest walking in his garden and it put thoughtful look in his eyes and a memory of certain repairs necessary to the church. He wondered what the pearl would be worth, (Steinback pg 21) His first reaction, instead of being one of joy towards Kinos family, is that of how he can benefit from the new finding. The priess selfish thoughts toward the pearl arise from his way of sein Kinos race as little children. His interests in wealth persuade Kino to donate money to the church, (It is pleasant to see that your first thoughts are good thoughts. God bless you, my children.) He responds to Juanas comment about marrying in the church and thanking the lord. Ironically, he pretends to respect Juana for having good thoughts, knowing that the only reason for showing up is because of his wishes to pay for the church repairs. The preach pretends to care about Kinos decision and rewards him by convincing him that the right thing to do is to thank God suggesting that some of the money should go to the church. His selfishness and reasons for visiting and blessing the family are based on his belief that the Indians arent smart enough to figure out what hes attempting to do.
Another group of people attracted by Kinos pearl are the buyers, who try tricking him into selling his beautiful treasure for a cheap price thinking Indians are too ignorant to realize the pearls actual price and their cruel intentions. They usually had auctions for pearls such as Kinos, but sometimes they would end up paying too much with the excitement of bidding, so they decided to set a price for the pearl and not go any higher than that. After all, they too thought that Kino, being a humble fisherman wouldnt be able to figure out their tricks. However, Kino doesnt fall for their trap and they loose the opportunity to buy the pearl they are so eager to get. The fishermen are so confident about their plan that they overlook the fact that there is a possibility that Kino might be smarter than what they assumed. They work together to trick Kino into thinking his pearl was worthless and that they were actually offering more than its actual vvalue, but Kino has already had too many magnificent comments abobut his pearl to believe their lies. Their assumptions about Kino based on their general thought about Natives ended up costing them a fortune that they couldve made simply by being honest and doing things the right way.
Another contributor to Kinos struggle throughout the story is the doctor who was the worst perspective of the natives. His ignorance, cruelty and avarice bring the works of times to Kino and his family because he thinks of them as animals. He is so self-centered that he doesnt care about what might happen to the baby if he doesnt help them, Have I nothing better to do than cure insect bites for little Indians? I am a doctor not a veterinarian. He compares Kinos race to animals when he is indulging himself with unnatural foods, resting like an animal himself. The only thing that seems to make him want to offer his services is his avarice Has he any money? No, they dont have any money. I, I alone in the world am supposed to work for nothing, and I am tired of it. See if he has any money! The doctor thinks that Kino and his kind dont work as hard as he does because of his position, however they work just as hard or even harder, but he refuses to consider this because then that would make them equal, and his pride and cruelty will never allow him to be like a little Indian. The doctor is too self absorbed to look at the baby and five him at least a quick treatment, his stubborn attitude would have been key to make Kinos experience with the pearl a good one, but instead, being part of the ruling class he believes he is worth more than the life of a human being.
The priest pearl buyers and doctor are key characters in the story because they make Kinos experience with the pearl a tragedy due to their belief that they are better and therefore deserve better. Their views on Kinos race keep them from realizing how important it is for Kino and his family to use the opportunity. Instead they try to steal his opportunity in whatever ways they can, from persuading Kino to do something in the name of God, to a dangerous attempt of getting his only son sick. Steinbacks attitude towards the ruling clas is expressed by the way they fail to get what they wanted and sometimes even ended up harming not only themselves, but also Kinos family. This attitude helps portray his view of the native population being discriminated and subjugated by ruling classes when all they do is try to live a peaceful life like everyone else.