I'm not a big John Steinbeck lover, though because I'm a Californian and know his territory pretty well, it's hard not to think about him, especially when driving down the coast toward Monterey. He's kind of just here in Northern California, and because I read everything he ever wrote, he's in me, too. So, let me amend: I am a big John Steinbeck lover, whether I want to be or not.
The book that hit me the hardest when I read it in fifth grade, was The Pearl. I read it a few times, appalled and miserable at the end. Kino finds the giant pearl, but the moment he imagines a greater life because of it, his entire life is destroyed. After each read, I'd sit there and think, holy damn cow. You find what you really want and then it ruins your life.
Or, I would imagine, you think you know what you want but it isn't what you want at all. In fact, what you wanted is what you had. And then, like that, both your imagined want and your real want are gone. And you are left alone, no family, no work, no home, no pearl.
Now this story pisses me off. It carries the same negative message as the fairytale Bluebeard does. Don't want what isn't in front of you. If you go off with the blue bearded stranger, you will put your life in peril. You will be saved by what you knew, and come back home where you will stay. Of course, Kino wasn't saved, but the princess in Bluebeard and Kino both leave the known to disastrous ends--though the princess does not end up like Bluebeard's other wives, strung up dead on the wall (what a story to tell children! And what does it say that I liked that story best!).
But I think of Kino and his pearl. I think of getting that thing that you've dreamed of. But I supposed getting that thing and then making good choices about it could lead to another kind of story. One where you do get what you dreamed of and can keep what you had.
Literature is not filled with these kinds of stories because they are actually quite boring. No tension in that. No conflict in being smart and sane and thoughtful. No tension in asking questions when you need to and making the right choices.
Life should sometimes not be a story.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org