Monday, June 13, 2011

The Pearl

A very long time ago, I was a sophomore in high school. Back in those days, I was a super top notch student (sometimes I feel like I've drifted from my studious habits of the past) and chose to step up to the challenge of an honors English class. 
For our summer reading we were assigned "The Pearl" by John Steinbeck and given a few instructions.
Because the book was only 90 pages and it was our only summer reading (and probably, in part, because I was sure I'd be an English major in college) I read the book four times looking for all these insights. By the end of the summer I had only found a handful of references to Kino and animals, but after reading those four times, I was positive I'd found everything.

I came to class that first day very self-assured in my knowledge and capacities. Surely I'd mastered every part of this novella.

I was wrong.

As we studied Steinbeck's words, I was astounded at how many metaphors I'd breezed by. All the mentions of ants, mice, scorpions, fish, hawks- every reference had been the very thing I'd been looking for but hadn't seen. I was reading the narrative level when there were deeper sociological and symbolic meanings I couldn't yet decipher.
I'm beginning to re-read this book tonight. Just like my experience with "The Pearl," I'm able to gain new insight every time I open its pages. The last couple of times I've read, I've used different copies to mark my notes.
It's been really cool to see the differences in what I highlight. The last time was the first I'd gone through focusing on a specific topic-- how to be a more Christ-like leader. I think this next time I'll be looking for examples of charity and love. Feel free to join me and let me know what you think.