Lesson 9: Parables

Getting Started

The Pearl is a parable, a story that illustrates a moral or religious lesson. Through it the reader can learn many valuable life lessons. A fable also teaches a lesson, but a fable usually uses animals or forces of nature as characters, while parables feature human characters. Throughout generations, stories have been used to teach moral lessons. People often learn best when hearing or reading a story. Read the parables found on the "Parables" pages and explain the moral or lesson of each story to a parent.
Student Activity Page
Student Activity Page
Student Activity Page
Student Activity Page

Stuff You Need

  • colored pencils
  • journal
  • note cards
  • ruler* (Activity 2 - Option 1)

* - denotes an optional material that may or may not be needed

Ideas to Think About

  • How can the power of a story be used to change people's lives?

Things to Know

  • A fable teaches a moral lesson and has animals or forces of nature as characters.
  • A parable illustrates a moral or religious teaching and features human characters.


  • Reflect on learning experiences by analyzing personal learning growth and changes in perspective. (LA)
  • Analyze the purpose of the author or creator by understanding the effects of the author's craft on the reader. (LA)
  • Study the characteristics of different types of literature. (LA)
  • Model an understanding of conventional written and spoken expression by applying the parts of speech to clarify language usage. (LA)
  • Identify and understand the function of appositive phrases, prepositional phrases, and adverbial and adjectival phrases. (LA)

Introducing the Lesson

Today your child will read four different parables. Ask him to explain the lesson that each parable teaches.

The Parable of the Pearl (Biblical Parable)
Many people interpret the parable of the pearl as showing how precious and valuable the kingdom of heaven is. In the story, the merchant looks for and finds a pearl so amazing that he gives up everything he owns to obtain it. Through the story Jesus is saying that those searching for the kingdom of heaven will find that it is more valuable than anything they have; they should seek it, recognize its value, and do whatever they can to attain it.

Some think that the the title of Steinbeck's book was inspired by Jesus' parable of the pearl. Ask your child how this parable is like the story in The Pearl and how it may be an ironic reference. Your child may mention that Kino ends up "paying" for the pearl with everything he has — his happiness and his family's future. Your child may also note that unlike the pearl in the Biblical parable, which represents heaven, the pearl in the novel comes to represent evil.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Biblical Parable)
Ask your child how he would describe the lesson of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. He should say something about helping people in their time of need, regardless of who the person is. He may also talk about hypocrisy and how important it is that people "practice what they preach."

Wo and Jah (Buddhist Parable)
Ask your child what the lesson of the story is. Answers will vary but a good answer might be that we can have peace and joy only when we drop our undue burdens and help others who are suffering.

What About the Bike? (South African Parable)
Ask your child what the lesson of this story might be. Answers will vary but a good answer might be that when you want to reconcile with someone, it may take more than an apology to make things right. It will take time and, depending on the circumstances, restitution may be part of the equation.