The Author John Steinbeck 1902 – 1968 John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California in 1902. His novel The Pearl, a simple tale of a Mexican-Indian fisherman’s trials and tribulations after he discovers a pearl was published in 1945. He died on December 20, 1968.
Kino – Mexican Indian fisherman. Main character (protagonist)
Juana , Kino’s wife
Coyotito is Kino and Juana’s infant son
Juan Tomas is Kino’s brother
Apolonia - Juan Tomas’s wife
Doctor – Spanish Mexican
Priest – Spanish Mexican
Pearl buyers – Spanish Mexican
Trackers – Spanish Mexican trained to track people
What is the story about? RACE - Mexican Indians the natives, poor fisherman and pearl divers. Uneducated , oppressed by the Spanish Mexican Spanish Mexican conquerors (colonists), people with education and wealth MONEY - Dreams, Men willing to do anything for money including kill GREED - As men’s greed grows, so does violence Human desires to have more RACE MONEY GREED
Kino, a fisherman, lives in a brush hut in a small fishing village by the sea. He awakes to the sound of the waves on the beach. He is happy listening to the early morning sounds, which includes the Song of the family. Juana, his wife, prepares breakfast and sings to her baby, Coyotito. After having breakfast, both Kino and Juana see a scorpion moving slowly down the rope of the hanging baby’s box (crib).
Kino and Juan watch in fear as the scorpion crawls towards Coyotito.
The song of evil, a savage and dangerous melody and also the music of the enemy, lays in Kino’s mind. The scorpion falls into the baby box and stings Coyotito before Kino can kill it. Juana tries to suck the poison from Coyotito’s shoulders. They decide to take the baby to the doctor in the nearby town. All the neighbours follow-they want to know if the doctor will treat Coyotito. The doctor refuses to treat Coyotito because Kino has no money. Kino is angry
Kino is angry when the doctor refuses to treat Coyotito
Kino loves his old canoe and takes good care of it-it was given to him by his father (who inherited it from his, own father). Juana makes a poultice out of seaweed and applies it to Coyotito’s swollen shoulder. Kino takes Juana and Coyotito with him in his canoe when he goes diving for oysters. As Kino dives into the sea for oysters, he hears the Song of the pearl that Might Be in his head. He finds a large oyster lying in an isolated spot. Kino opens the oyster and finds the great pearl, as large as a seagull’s egg, and as “perfect as the moon”. At the same time, Juana notices that the swelling on Coyotito’s shoulder going down. Kino screams out with joy and the other fishermen rush to him.
News that Kino has found the Pearl of the World travels fast around the town. Everyone wants to sell something or to ask favours from him. Kino plans to sell the great pearl and dreams of living a decent life. The priest reminds Kino to give thanks to God for his good fortune. Kino hears ‘the music of evil, of the enemy’ faintly in his mind. That night, the doctor and his servant appear at Kino’s little brush house to treat Coyotito. Kino does not welcome the doctor-he is still angry-but the doctor frightens him about Coyotito’s condition. The doctor gives the baby a capsule that contains white powder. He tells Kino that the poison will attack within the hour. He says that he will be back in an hour.
Later that night, after the doctor has gone home, the baby becomes very sick. The doctor rushes to treat Coyotito as soon as he hears that the baby is ill but he demands payment from Kino. Kino believes the doctor may have made the baby sick, but he promises to pay as soon as he sells the pearl. The doctor offers to keep the pearl for him but Kino refuses the offer. That night, someone tries to steal the pearl but Kino puts up a fight. The intruder hits him on his head and runs away. Juana blames the pearl for the attack and ask Kino to destroy the pearl or throw it back into the sea but Kino refuses to do so.
The first attack- someone tries to steal the pearl from the brush hut
The whole town knows that Kino plans to sell his pearl in the morning. Kino, Juana ad Coyotito dress up in their best clothes and leave to meet the pearl buyers. Their neighbours join them on their walk to the town. Kino’s brother, Juan Tomas, walks with him to town but warns him about being cheated. A pearl buyer offers Kino one thousand pesos for the pearl. This is less than what Kino expected. He feels the pearl is worth at least fifty thousand pesos. The pearl buyer decides to call three other pearl dealers to inspect the pearl. Kino is very disappointed with their remarks and offer.
Kino storms out of the pearl buyers office. He believes the dealers have plotted together not to offer him a good price for the pearl. He says he will sell the pearl in the city. That night, Kino hides the pearl under a stone near the fire in his hut. He feels restless and steps outside the house. Kino is attacked again. Juana finds him semi-conscious, his clothes torn and with a deep cut in his cheek from ear to chin. He also has a cut on his scalp. Juana is worried and claims that the pearl is evil. She asks Kino to throw the pearl back into the sea but Kino refuses to do so.
Just before dawn, Kino senses movement near him in the darkness. He sees Juana taking the pearl and heading towards the shore. Angrily, Kino follows her. When Juana realizes that Kino is behind her, she runs to the sea and tries to throw the pearl away. Kino hits her face and kicks her in the side. He walks away from her. Suddenly, Kino is attacked for the third time by an unknown attacker, but he kills the man. Juana hides the body. Juana and Kino decide to leave at once for the city in the canoe. However, someone has made a hole in the canoe.
Juana tries to get rid of the pearl but Kino stops her The third attack – Kino kills the attacker. Juana hides the body
When Juana goes home to get Coyotito, she discovers that the house has been ransacked. While she was in the house, the intruders set the house on fire. Kino and his family go to Juan Tomas’s house. Later that night, Kino and Juana start their journey to the cities in the north, where they hope to sell the pearl, Juan Tomas lends Kino a knife.
As Kino and Juana travel to the north, they make sure that they do not leave any tracks behind them. When Kino realizes that some trackers are following them, he no longer tries to cover his tracks. He then tries to lead the trackers away, but fails to do so. Kino and his family head towards the high stone mountain
Kino and Juana leave the village, Juan Tomas and Apolonia wave goodbye
Kino persuades Juana to hide in a cave with Coyotito. The trackers decide to rest near where Juana and Coyotito are hidden. Kino knows he must kill them that night. One of the trackers hears a cry from Coyotito. He thinks it is a Coyote pup. He then fires a shot towards the sound before Kino can grab the rifle. Kino kills all the three trackers. The bullets from the rifle kills Coyotito.
The Pearl symbolizes material gain and hope for a better life.
In this novel “ The Pearl ” it does change the life , but not for the better. As the story progresses the gem moves to be a powerful magnet for man’s greed and desires. It brought misery and destruction towards the family. It becomes a curse attracting Greed, Evil and death.
The Pearl, once so white, magical and pure, has now lost its sheen. No longer it is a symbol of potential wealth and new social status, it is now a tragic reminder of the loss of a child.