Mar 13, 2014
The Pearl: Nude Pearl Divers in Junior High English Class
Once in a story by Eudora Welty, a child sings "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man." With a voice of the utmost disdain, the professor told us: This is a reference to an animated cartoon of the period. It symbolizes the artistic sterility of their lives."
So the only Steinbeck novel that I've read is The Pearl (1947), a requirement for Miss Dunn's seventh grade English class.
The plot is atrocious: A poor Mexican pearl diver, Kimo, finds a pearl that causes nothing but trouble for him, his wife, and his infant son Coyotito. He ends up killing several men, losing his house, and accidentally killing Coyotito.
Bummer. Heterosexist bummer.
The only redeeming characteristic is the book jacket, which typically shows a half-naked, muscular Kimo. (In some interior illustartions, he even gets naked!)
1. La perla (1947): with Pedro Armendariz as Kimo (renamed Quino). Yes.
2. The Pearl (2001): Lukas Haas as Kimo. No.
Surprisingly, there have only been two. I guess screenwriters also remember hating it in junior high.
Or skip it and go to the Pearl Fishers opera, which adds a gay subtext to the beefcake.