The Pearl

by: John Steinbeck

The Doctor

Characters The Doctor

Though he does not figure largely in the novella’s plot, the doctor is an important character in The Pearl because he represents the colonial attitudes that oppress Kino’s people. The doctor symbolizes and embodies the colonists’ arrogance, greed, and condescension toward the natives, whom the colonists do not even try to understand. Like the other colonists, the doctor has no interest in Kino’s people. He has come only to make money, and his greed distorts his human values. As a physician, the doctor is duty-bound to act to save human life, but when confronted with someone whom he considers beneath him, the doctor feels no such duty. His callous refusal to treat Coyotito for the scorpion sting because Kino lacks the money to pay him thus demonstrates the human cost of political conquest rooted in the desire for financial profit. As his interior monologue in Chapter 1 shows, the doctor is obsessed with European society, and European cultural values grip his mind so deeply that he doesn’t even realize how ignorant he is of Kino and Kino’s people.