Parabolic Text/Colonial Context: A Reading of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl

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Majeed U. Jadwe, et. al.


John Steinbeck’s popular novella The Pearl (1947) has been variously interpreted as a parable of anything but colonialism in spite of the evident colonial context of its narrative. This paper argues that Steinbeck has re-written a Mexican Indian folktale into a parable of Spanish colonialism of Mexico. Steinbeck uses the universality of the parable form to reflect on the discourse of classic European colonialism and the textual dynamics of cultural identity which operates to frame the colonial subject as the Other of the colonizing self. A range of postcolonial approaches is employed in this paper, such as the theories of Fanon and Bhabha, to uncover how Steinbeck politicizes his essentially parabolic narrative into a parable of colonial dissemination and the modes of empowerment the colonial subject fashions to culturally resist this dissemination.

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