The Pearl

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The Pearl Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In strong wind and under a black sky, Kino and Juana begin to follow the sandy road that leads to Loreto, the home of a statue of the Virgin. The wind, Kino hopes, will erase their tracks.
Kino and Juana set out in the direction of the statue of the Virgin, as though they are embarking on a religious pilgrimage, when really they are escaping after an irreligious crime of killing (even if in self-defense).
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Something ancient and animal awakens within Kino and exhilarates him.
Connecting with nature and with his ancestors reinvigorates Kino.
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The moon rises and the wind has calmed. Without the wind to erase their tracks, Kino tries to follow an existing wheel rut.
Kino and Juana seek to cooperate with nature to facilitate their invisibility.
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Coyotes and owls make their night noises. Evil lurks about. Kino and Juana walk all night, and Kino hears the song of the pearl and the song of the family.
Evil noises haunt Kino and Juana, but now they are the noises of nature, not of greedy humans And Kino feels that he is acting to protect his family and the hopes symbolized by the pearl.
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At dawn, Kino finds a clearing by the road to sleep in for a bit. While Juana nurses Coyotito, Kino covers up the tracks they’ve made. A wagon passes by and hides their footprints.
It’s best to sleep at dawn, because it’s too dangerous to walk in broad daylight. Traffic and natural elements aid their hiding.
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Kino watches ants at his feet as he eats a corncake Juana has offered him. The sun rises high and hot. Kino instructs Juana not to touch the tree that bleeds, nor the tree that blinds, and his wife nods knowingly.
Kino demonstrates to Juana his intimate familiarity with the surrounding nature. She, too, is familiar, but assumes a subservient position in allowing him to teach her.
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Juana and Kino discuss the likelihood of whether they are being followed. Kino is certain that they will be. When Juana’s says that the pearl is actually worthless after all, Kino reasons that it must be valuable or else people would not have tried to steal it.
Not knowledgeable about the system of evaluation in which the pearl plays a part, Kino and Juana can only interpret how valuable their pearl is from the reactions it has provoked.
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Kino declares aloud that he will have a rifle, but can see in the pearl only the man he’s killed. He declares that he and Juana will be married, but he sees in the pearl Juana’s beaten body. He declares that Coyotito will read, but he sees in the pearl only Coyotito’s sick face.
The dreams that the pearl once inspired have now been replaced by the terrible consequences the pearl has actually caused. When Kino looks into the pearl, he sees not hopeful dreams but devastating realities—and yet he can't give up the dreams.
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Kino puts the pearl back and the music of evil interweaves again with the music of the pearl.
Kino recalls the evil of the pearl as he sees these saddening forms in its surface.
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Juana is playing with Coyotito and Kino is lightly asleep when Kino cries out in a bad dream and then sits up sharply as though he’s heard something. He tries to eat a corncake to calm himself and then tells Juana to silence Coyotito.
A jolt in Kino’s dream seems to alert Kino that something bad is happening in reality that he must be ready for.
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He looks onto the road and sees one man on a horse and two men walking close to the ground, inspecting like hounds. Kino tries to hold his breath as he recognizes these men as inland trackers, out to hunt Kino and his family.
Kino has become like an animal. He is powerless to do anything but violently attack in defense or run away.
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Kino decides that he must lunge for the horseman and grab his rifle, and digs his feet into pits in the sand to prepare himself. The trackers pause at the place on the ground where Kino had swept their tracks away and the horse snorts. Kino tenses, but then the trackers move on.
A moment of suspense is deflated when the trackers leave, making it unnecessary for Kino to attack just yet. And yet by delaying the climax it only builds suspense for the real climax to come.
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Kino backs up, considering it hopeless to cover his tracks, and suggests to Juana that maybe he should just surrender himself. Juana challenges him, doubting that the trackers would let him live once they stole his pearl. Kino is overwhelmed with despair. Finally Kino proposes that they go into the mountains to try to lose the trackers. They do so in a “panic flight.” Kino seeks elevation, like all pursued animals.
After days of fighting off attack and pursuit, Kino’s hope and will are temporary worn down. He has a moment of weakness, but then comes back to himself and creates a plan, getting in touch with his animal instincts.
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Kino pictures the trackers coming up the mountain after them, once they find Kino and Juana’s previous resting ground, but he cannot see them from where they are.
The trackers are never far from Kino’s mind. He is constantly aware of their approach.
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The land that they travel over is dry, waterless.
Natural elements, like a lack of water sources, provide an additional obstacle to Juana and Kino’s survival.
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Kino tells Juana to go north to Loreto or Santa Rosia while he leads the trackers into the mountain, and that he will join her and Coyotito if he is able to escape. Juana refuses to leave his side. They move on, no longer in a “panic flight.”
Juana demonstrates how much she cares for her family and considers Kino integral to her life when she insists that they remain together. Kino, too, is empowered by the family bond.
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Kino walks in a zig-zag to throw off the trackers, and sets out for the spot of foliage that might mark a water source, despite the danger of going to such an obvious and commonly needed destination.
Thirst overpowers all other concerns as Kino and Juana decide to go to water even though that's likely where the trackers will look for them, or come themselves to drink. Nature and need prevails over strategy.
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Kino and Juana arrive at a little spring, with water bubbling out of the stone and falling into a pool on a stony platform, where all the animals come to drink. They look at the Gulf from afar as Juana washes and nurses Coyotito and Kino drinks.
Kino and Juana join the animals they’ve come to resemble in their flight from the hunters, and unite with nature in this brief moment of calm and replenishment.
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Kino looks down the mountain and sees the trackers scurrying up, ant-like. He estimates that they’ll catch up by evening and suggests that they go west. He orders Juana to go hide in a cave up the hill, where she’ll be more hidden. Kino climbs up the brush cliff past the cave, pulling at the shrubs along the way, and then walks back down the hill to join her, making sure there’s no sign of his tracks.
Kino acts as head of the family in determining everyone’s course of action. He displays his intelligence and craftiness, thinking not only how to run away from the trackers, but how to deceive and deter them along the way.
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Kino tells Juana the plan—when the trackers follow Kino’s path uphill, Kino and Juana will go back down the mountain—and reminds Juana that Coyotito cannot make a sound. Kino watches the trackers climb up the hill and rest by the water beneath Kino and Juana while darkness descends. Juana coaxes Coyotito to remain silent. Two of the trackers are sleeping while a third watches, and then their match is extinguished, leaving the scene completely dark, but printed in Kino’s memory.
Kino and Juana prepare for the trackers’ arrival and Kino plots his plan of attack. Kino is extremely alert and takes note of the details of where the trackers are. Darkness hides everyone in mystery and suspense.
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Kino pictures the position of the men, and then returns to Juana and informs her that he plans to attack the tracker with the rifle first. She warns him that they’ll see his white clothing in the dark but he insists that he must go, before the moon comes up. He tells her to go on to Loreto if he’s killed. He lays a hand on Coyotito’s head, touches Juana’s check, and then takes off his white clothing and slithers out of the cave.
In his final moment before he goes to face the trackers, Kino shows care for his family and promises that they will be together in the end, as long as he makes it through alive. After discrediting Juana’s advice to remove his white clothing, he obeys it, showing how much he respects Juana and considers her intelligent.
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He crouches carefully and quietly, with his knife hanging down his back, hearing strongly the Song of the Family. He finally reaches the level of the trackers, twenty feet away, and crouches. He tries to remember whether there are any obstacles that will obscure his attack, and then reaches for his knife, intending to attack before the moon rises.
Kino thinks of his family as he prepares to perform an act of potential sacrifice for them. He demonstrates his skillful swiftness as he creeps along noiselessly and strategically.
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The moon comes up before Kino had hoped, and Coyotito cries a little from the cave. The trackers hear the cry and stir from their sleep, guessing first that the sound comes from a baby, and then deciding instead that it must be a coyote. The tracker on watch lifts his rifle to shoot at the crying coyote.
Just as Kino creeps like an animal and is hunted like an animal, Coyotito’s cries sound like those of his animal namesake. His cries often serve momentous narrative moments, either marking an important event (as in the scorpion sting) or precipitating an important event (as here.)
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Kino leaps out and the gun fires. Kino digs his knife into the watchers’ neck and chest and grabs the rifle. He knocks the head of the sitting man and shoots the third, first to the ground, and then between the eyes. Kino stands, sensing that something is wrong. The cicadas are quiet. Suddenly he becomes aware of a moaning from the cave, the “cry of death.”
Kino attacks savagely and successfully, but any sense of relief or accomplishment is overridden by the sounds he hears from the caves. Along with the trackers, it seems that Coyotito, too, has been killed. Kino attacks only in self-defense, to fight against evil, but every time he does so the evil only grows.
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The narrator reports that all the people of La Paz remember the moment when Kino and Juana came back to the town as the sun was setting. They walked not in single file with Kino ahead, but side by side, Juana carrying a dead Coyotito in her bloody shawl. Their faces were tired and tight and seemed as though protected by magic, having surpassed human emotion. They walked straight ahead through the town.
As in the introduction to the novel, Kino and Juana’s story is placed within the context of the villagers’ narration, as a tale that’s been told again and again. The tragedy that they’ve been through has leveled their relationship, equalizing man and woman (as indicated by their walking side-by-side) and numbing and blinding them to all that surrounds them. Since they found the pearl, their lives have been so affected by the community and world around them, but now they are like witnesses against that world, forcing it to see what it has done.
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They reach the Gulf shore, not looking towards the ruined canoe, and Kino lays down the rifle and takes out the pearl, offering it to Juana. She insists that he do the deed. He flings the pearl back into the ocean, and it settles to the bottom among the plants and crabs.
Finally, now that the pearl has run its course of evil, has destroyed Coyotito for whom they held all those dreams the pearl might have made possible, Kino and Juana rid themselves of the pearl and all its associations. Now the pearl returns to nature, where it belongs, and Kino and Juana symbolically reject the world into which the pearl thrust them. The way that Kino offers Juana the opportunity to throw the pearl, and her insistence that he throw it, shows both how they have reached more of an equality between each other, but also how each recognizes the way that the pearl has injured the other. Ultimately, it is Kino who must throw the pearl because it is he who must reject the dreams it inspired in him.
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Kino and Juana stand next to one another and the music of the pearl fades away.
Exhausted, Kino and Juana are left only with one other. They have given up on the dreams of the pearl.
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