A jewel of a novella, short, suspenseful and moving, The Pearl is the re-telling of a Mexican folk tale. It's the story of Kino, a poor pearl diver, who finds an enormous pearl. He sees it as the path to dignity for his family and an education for his son, but it brings tragedy instead. Essentially a parable, a central message of the work is to be careful what you wish for. The message is obvious from the text and there's nothing subtle about the way in which it's presented. On the other hand, Steinbeck's prose never fails to speak to me, with its beautiful descriptions of the natural world and wonderful use of simile and metaphor. I think of Steinbeck as a compassionate writer with a deep interest in people and the environment in which they live. This is something which shines through the work.