Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in The Pearl

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for The Pearl


The Pearl Symbolism

Example



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Activity Overview


Valuable aspects of any literary work are its themes, symbols, and motifs. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to anatomize without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.

In the classroom, students can track the rich symbolism Steinbeck uses throughout the novel.


Themes, Motifs, and Imagery to Look for and Discuss

Greed/Money

The saying goes, “Money is the root of all evil”, and it is not an exception in The Pearl. As Kino seeks to gain wealth from the pearl, the thought of what riches it brings makes him lose sight of what is truly most important in life. Not only does it change Kino by turning him into a destructive murderer, but it also changes the people around him. Villagers who were once his friend became jealous and greedy, stopping at nothing—including burning his home—to get the pearl.


Fate

Fate is an universal theme that often lends itself to understanding a person’s destiny. While events happen that seem to be random and out of a person's control, these events change their life. Even actions of their own doing have great effects and outcomes. However, it is fate that lends us the thematic idea that our lives are not controlled by chance, but rather by a predetermined fate. In the end, a series of coincidences leads to the tragic death of Coyotito even after he had already escaped death once. The reader is left to believe that his death was inevitable.


The Pearl

Throughout the novel, the pearl lends itself to being a complex and complicated symbol. From the exposition to the climax, the pearl’s meaning changes. In the beginning it seems to symbolize fate, fortune, and good luck. However, by the end it is coveted and represents all the evil and greed in the world. Breaking the symbol down further the reader can see the pearl as fate itself. Grown from a piece of sand lying on the ocean floor, its existence purely happened by chance. However, due to its rarity, a monetary value was assigned to it, making it a materialistic item.



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in The Pearl. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from The Pearl you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for the example(s) that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.

1x3 Grid Template

Template


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