Defying Gender Stereotypes: Juana Eclipsing Kino in John Steinbeck’s The Pearl

Sayed Mohammed Youssef


The representation of female characters in the fiction of John Steinbeck has become a topic of scholarly interest as early as his first novel Cup of Gold. His women characters are always drawn as stereotypically far too inferior to men, something that is illustrated through the subordinate, sometimes scandalous, roles assigned to them. This is the reason why Steinbeck has often been stigmatised by a number of critics as a misogynist. Nevertheless, the aim of the present article is to show that Steinbeck defies his usual stereotypical portrayal of women and female roles and takes a lenient, if not sympathetic, stance on women in his novella The Pearl, which can be interpreted as an exception in the Steinbeck canon. This is highlighted right here through examining the character traits of both Juana and Kino in order to show how Kino, the protagonist, does pale in comparison to Juana, whom the author endows with unique wisdom, common sense and resourcefulness juxtaposed to the foolishness, incompetence and acquiescence of Kino. Such qualities as these make of Juana a far stronger and more superior person than her husband in a patriarchal and colonial society in which women have no say.


Chastened, evil, patriarchy, stereotype, subjugation, women representation

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