The Pearl

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Juana Character Analysis

Like her husband, Kino, Juana is hard-working, serious, and able to endure great physical and emotional strain. She nurses Coyotito, builds fires for corncakes, prays in times of distress, and attempts to heal her baby’s scorpion sting. Though she defers to her husband as a wife is expected, Juana is also strong-willed, and it is she who insists that Coyotito see the doctor. When she takes initiative and tries to get rid of the evil pearl, however, Kino beats her into submission. Yet even Kino’s violence Juana accepts rationally, reminding herself of the necessity of man for woman.

Juana Quotes in The Pearl

The The Pearl quotes below are all either spoken by Juana or refer to Juana. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Community Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of The Pearl published in 2002.
Prologue Quotes

“In the town they tell the story of the great pearl—how it was found and how it was lost again. They tell of Kino, the fisherman, and of his wife, Juana, and of the baby, Coyotito. And because the story has been told so often, it has taken root in every man’s mind…If this story is a parable, perhaps everyone takes his own meaning from it and reads his own life into it. In any case, they say in the town that…”

Related Characters: Kino, Juana, Coyotito
Related Symbols: The Pearl
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote appears as a prologue to the story. The quotation marks that bookend the quote suggest that it is one that is often spoken aloud in the telling of the proceeding story. Thus, the story of the "great pearl" has essentially become a parable, such as The Boy who Cried Wolf or The Tortoise and the Hare. Its perpetual telling is meant to teach the listener a lesson, based on the morals gleaned from the misfortunes of Kino, Juana, and Coyotito that befell them once the Great Pearl came into their lives. The lack of geographic specificity in regards to the "town" in which this story is told suggests that, in addition to becoming a vague kind of legend, the tale is passed along in various towns as a warning of the dangers of sudden fortune.

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Chapter 1 Quotes

Juana sang softly an ancient song that had only three notes and yet endless variety of interval. And this was part of the family song too. It was all part. Sometimes it rose to an aching chord that caught the throat, saying this is safety, this is warmth, this is the Whole.

Related Characters: Juana
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

Kino awakens early one morning, and he and his wife Juana begin their typical routine. As their schedule never falters, they are able to go about their business and communicate without a word. Kino finds great beauty in this morning, due to the fact that it epitomizes the harmony of his home and his family. In this quote, Juana sings a song, "The Song of Family," that simultaneously represents the present peace of their family and their role as members of an ancient group of people. Juana's song brings the family together as a unit and as a part of their larger culture (a culture that, it should be noted, is portrayed in a vague and simplified way by Steinbeck). This song deeply comforts Kino, as it reminds him of his love and protective instincts towards Juana and Coyotito, and his responsibility as a member of the larger town and its people.

Chapter 2 Quotes

She gathered some brown seaweed and made a flat damp poultice of it, and this she applied to the baby’s swollen shoulder, which was as good a remedy as any and probably better than the doctor could have done. But the remedy lacked his authority because it was simple and didn’t cost anything.

Related Characters: Juana, Coyotito, The doctor
Related Symbols: The Scorpion
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

Having been turned away from the doctor's home, Juana creates a poultice from seaweed to soothe the baby's sting. In this quote, the narrator notes that while this remedy is likely just as effective as the doctor's treatment would have been, Juana views it as unsatisfactory because it was hastily created by her and not by an expensive white doctor with a degree. This point of view represents the influence that colonization has had on the indigenous people in La Paz. Though Juana and Kino's people have been living in the region for thousands of years, the sudden influx and brutality of Europeans with rifles forced them to become second-class citizens. European dominance has meant that luxuries such as schools and advanced medical care are too expensive for the subjugated natives to afford. Since Kino and Juana want absolutely the best for their son, they are determined to have him treated by a rich white doctor, whose people have thrived, albeit through cruel practices, in the region. By contrast, Juana's people have been murdered and subjugated, and thus internalized a sense of weakness that she associates with her poultice, regardless of how effective it is. She wants Coyotito to be healed by a doctor whose wealth and skin color are a kind of proof of strength and dominance.

Chapter 3 Quotes

“Who do you fear?” Kino searched for a true answer, and at last he said, “Everyone.” And he could feel a shell of hardness drawing over him.

Related Characters: Kino (speaker), Juana (speaker)
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

When Kino goes to bed that evening, he is aware of the fact that he is now a target for those who are jealous of his wealth. He buries the pearl into a spot in the ground beneath his sleeping mat. In the darkness of the night, he hears something enter his hut, and thrusts his knife into the darkness. The figure runs away, and Kino sees blood on his knife. In this quote, Juana asks him who he is afraid of--they don't know who broke into their hut, but they are both aware of the fact that it was someone who wanted to steal the pearl. Kino replies that he is afraid of everyone, for it could have been anyone who broke into the hut. The intrusion represents the hostility that many members of the town now secretly harbor towards Kino due to his seemingly random stroke of luck. Like a grain of sand being coated until it is made into a pearl, Kino feels himself acquiring a shell--though this shell is one of "hardness." Kino knows that he must now be prepared to physically protect himself and his family from his own community--as well as from the pearl itself, which increasingly seems like an omen of evil, rather than good fortune. 

Chapter 4 Quotes

“I am afraid. A man can be killed. Let us throw the pearl back into the sea.” “Hush,” he said fiercely. “I am a man. Hush.”

Related Characters: Kino (speaker), Juana (speaker)
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

After refusing to sell the pearl to the pearl-dealer, Kino must defend himself and their home against another intruder. In this quote, Juana, convinced that the pearl is an evil object that will bring them only misfortune, urges Kino to throw it back into the sea. Kino silences Juana's pleas, fiercely telling her that he is "a man." This is the first time that the reader sees discord in Juana and Kino's seemingly harmonious relationship. Though Kino holds great respect for his wife and all she does to take care of the family, he exerts control over her when he does not get his way, in line with the tradition of patriarchy. By simply asserting the fact that he is a "man," he expresses his right to control Juana, a woman, and that he possesses the power and bravery to protect the family against any foes that challenge them. However, it is this hubris--and the jealousy of those who want the pearl--that will end up destroying the family.

Chapter 5 Quotes

A dead man in the path and Kino’s knife, dark bladed beside him, convinced her. All of the time Juana had been trying to rescue something of the old peace, of the time before the pearl. But now it was gone, and there was no retrieving it.

Related Characters: Kino, Juana
Related Symbols: The Pearl
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

After violently halting Juana from throwing the pearl back into the sea in the middle of the night, Kino attacks two figures who attempt to steal the pearl from him. One person runs away, while the other further fights back, resulting in his murder by Kino's hand. In this quote, Juana sees the dead body and knows that their lives will never again be the same: the life that they had known before the pearl is gone forever. By creeping out of the hut while Kino was asleep, Juana attempted to banish the pearl from their lives while there was still a chance to return to the poor-but-happy harmony they had (in both their family and their community) before the fateful sting of the scorpion. Now, however, she knows that their is no turning back, and so she commits herself to trusting Kino and protecting the pearl at all costs.

Chapter 6 Quotes

“Juana,” he said, “I will go and you will hide…if I can escape them, I will come to you. It is the only safe way.” She looked full into his eyes for a moment. “No,” she said. “We go with you.”

Related Characters: Kino (speaker), Juana (speaker)
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Pursued ever closer by the trackers, Kino is fearful for himself and his family. Since Juana is carrying Coyotito and must constantly make sure he remains silent, she cannot move as quickly as Kino can alone. In this quote, Kino urges her to hide in the mountains while he continues to move alone, creating a fake trail and ultimately sneaking up on the trackers to attack them. However, Juana refuses on the grounds that the family must stay together. This moment is a harkening back to the beginning of the story, before the family was struck with the mixed fortunes of the scorpion sting and the pearl, when everything was in harmony. Throughout all of the trauma that has come with the "good luck" of the pearl, the family has remained the most important thing in their lives, the thing that will be there regardless of the fortune, or misfortune, of the pearl. Though Juana is resigned to the loss of their old lives, she refuses to split up the family.

Everyone in La Paz remembers the return of the family; there may be some old ones who saw it, but those whose fathers and whose grandfathers told it to them remember it nevertheless. It is an event that happened to everyone.

Related Characters: Kino, Juana, Coyotito
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

Like the quote at the beginning of the story, this quote notes that the story of Kino, Juana, and the pearl is one that is told for generations. Though the misfortunes specifically befell one family, it is perceived as a tragedy that affected the entire town. Since the town is so small, and everyone knows everything about everybody, no detail of the story remained private to Kino and Juana. Given the brutality that the people endured at the hands of the white settlers, and the subjugation they still face, each fortune is regarded as a collective one--leading to everyone wanting a piece of Kino's pearl--and each tragedy is a burden to every member of the town, not just those people it specifically effects. By retelling the story, generations bear the weight of how the promise of wealth can drive a person mad, and also bear the sadness of Coyotito's senseless death. It is a parable that warns against greed and envy, and places importance in family and safety above riches and wealth. One must always be wary of a sudden stroke of luck--if it seems too good to be true, it just might be.

The two came from the rutted country road into the city, and they were not walking in single file, Kino ahead and Juana behind, as usual, but side by side.

Related Characters: Kino, Juana
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

After Coyotito's death, Juana and Kino return to the town, their lives irreparably changed. Having lost one-third of their family unit, the couple no longer cares as to what might happen to them should they return to town and be accused of murder. In this quote, the narrator notes that Juana and Kino walked back into town side by side, rather than Kino leading the way, as the man of the couple (presumably) does in their culture. The tragedy that has befallen their family has made them equals in their misery. The burden of the curse of the pearl is something that they share in equal parts. After seeing the courage and commitment that Juana displayed in their escape from town, Kino no longer believes that his status as a man and Juana's as a woman makes her inferior to him in terms of moral character. The fact that the two walk back side by side, a departure from how the couple used to comport itself, is a signal to the townspeople that a profound event has happened to the couple to change their habits so significantly.

The people say that the two seemed to be removed from human experience; that they had gone through pain and had come out on the other side; that there was almost a magical protection about them.

Related Characters: Kino, Juana
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

As Juana and Kino walk back into the town, they seem changed in a way that the observers cannot quite put their fingers on. In this quote, the narrator of the story--which has now changed from the story of Kino and Juana to the parable of the Pearl, told by future generations--notes that the pair seems to have transcended their tragedy to the point that they, like the pearl did at first, seem to be coated in magic. It is implied that this "magical protection" protects the couple from the potential implications of Kino's murder, but more profoundly it's suggested that all the pain they have suffered has hardened them--in the future they might experience the usual bad luck of life, but they are now separate from emotion and normal human experience.

And then Kino laid the rifle down, and he dug among his clothes, and then he held the great pearl in his hand. He looked into its surface and it was gray and ulcerous. Evil faces peered from it into his eyes, and he saw the light of burning.

Related Characters: Kino, Juana
Related Symbols: The Pearl
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:
Upon returning to town after running for their lives and losing their child, Juana and Kino silently agree that they must be rid of the pearl. Kino bears a rifle, which he won in his altercation with the trackers. Though he finally achieves his dream of owning a rifle, it has come at a great cost--and certainly not one that he would have consented to had he been given the choice. Though the pearl had seemed so beautiful and lovely to him when he first found it, it now seems ugly and evil, as Juana had foretold. In its mottled sheen he sees his own reflection--he has murdered as many people as there have been days since finding the pearl, and he finds his own eyes to be evil. Though Kino knows he cannot earn back what he has lost--his own innocence, and the harmony of their family and community--he knows that he can rid the family of further evil by returning the pearl to the sea. 
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Juana Character Timeline in The Pearl

The timeline below shows where the character Juana appears in The Pearl. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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...before him, and then steps outside of his brush house to watch the sun rise. Juana, meanwhile, begins to make a fire in the pit and to grind corn for morning... (full context)
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...industrious ants and coaxes a shy dog that has wandered over to their hut, as Juana makes the cakes and sings to Coyotito. It is a morning like all others, safe... (full context)
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Kino goes back into the hut and eats his corncake with Juana, both of them silent because they need not speak, as sun streams in through the... (full context)
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Suddenly, Kino and Juana freeze as they see a movement from Coyotito’s hanging box and turn their heads to... (full context)
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As the scorpion moves further down the rope, Juana prays in a whisper, an ancient prayer as well as a Hail Mary. (full context)
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From Coyotito’s shoulder, Kino takes the scorpion and squashes it angrily. Juana, meanwhile, tries to suck the poison out of Coyotito’s shoulder. Kino stands by, feeling helpless. (full context)
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Just as Kino is admiring her fortitude, Juana demands that the doctor be gotten. (full context)
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...spreads quickly through the neighbors. When word gets back that the doctor will not come, Juana decides that the family will go to the doctor themselves. (full context)
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The neighbors follow at the heels of Kino and Juana as they walk to and arrive at the city, replete with plaster, stone, and fancy... (full context)
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...about the town—the sins of its inhabitants, the bad ways of the doctor—pin Kino and Juana down as “poverty people,” and look on to see what will come of their visit. (full context)
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When the servant tells the doctor about Kino and Juana, and Coyotito’s scorpion bite, the doctor becomes angry, insulted by the notion that he would... (full context)
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Shame settles over the group of neighbors and beggars that has followed Kino and Juana; they disperse to save Kino from the humiliation. (full context)
Chapter 2
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Kino and Juana walk to the beach, in the direction of their canoe. Kino had inherited the canoe... (full context)
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On Kino’s blanket, Juana sets down Coyotito, who’s calmed but still swollen. Juana treats his sting with seaweed, which... (full context)
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The narrator notes that Juana has directed her prayers not toward Coyotito’s survival, but toward Kino’s finding a pearl with... (full context)
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Kino and Juana take off in the canoe, and look down at the oyster bed, which, it’s suggested,... (full context)
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...surface and places that final oyster at the bottom of the canoe. Both Kino and Juana try not to get too attached or dwell on Kino’s apparent excitement. Kino opens all... (full context)
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...time to open the promising oyster, Kino hesitates, afraid its glint was an illusion, but Juana encourages him. (full context)
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...Pearl that Might Be resonant and warm and sees dream forms in his lucky find. Juana comes to look at the pearl, which Kino holds in the hand with which he... (full context)
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Juana goes over to check on Coyotito and finds that the swelling of his shoulder has... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Kino and Juana, unaware of the envy that surrounds them, assume that everyone feels the joy that they... (full context)
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When Juan Tomas asks Kino what he will do as a rich man, Juana covers her excitement with her shawl and Kino quietly states that he and Juana will... (full context)
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Juana looks admiringly at Kino while he sees in the pearl visions of ever-grander dreams. He... (full context)
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...declaring that his son will read and write and make numbers, and that he and Juana will know things through him. Never having spoken so much in his life, Kino stops,... (full context)
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Juana begins to make a fire and the neighbors remain. Word comes that the priest is... (full context)
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...will thank God for it and pray to Him for guidance. Kino nods obediently and Juana reports that they plan to be married. The priest blesses them approvingly and leaves. (full context)
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Juana calls to Kino to show him Coyotito’s stomach spasms and flushed face, which convince the... (full context)
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...doctor and his doctor’s bag carefully. The doctor claims that the baby will improve and Juana looks at him admiringly. (full context)
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...the night and then reburies the pearl in a hole under his sleeping mat. To Juana’s inquiry about who Kino fears, he responds, “everyone.” (full context)
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As Kino and Juana try to fall asleep, Kino’s mind continues to work, dreaming of a learned Coyotito and... (full context)
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Kino assures Juana that he is alright, and Juana begins to make a fire and clean Kino’s head... (full context)
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...Kino pulls out the pearl to admire it, full of promise and comfort. Kino and Juana smile together, as one, and greet the morning full of hope. (full context)
Chapter 4
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The importance of this day for Kino and Juana is felt very strongly. Juana dreams of a baptism for Coyotito. (full context)
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All the neighbors go, as expected, to follow Kino and Juana to the pearl dealers. (full context)
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Juana and Kino prepare to go with Coyotito, Kino tilting his hat forward to convey his... (full context)
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Kino feels evil swell about him, but gains strength when he looks at Juana. (full context)
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...possibility of going to the capital, at first wary of the idea and then determined. Juana watches him bury the pearl and feeds Coyotito. (full context)
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...that the capital may not be the best place to go because, there, Kino and Juana will have no one to rely on. (full context)
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...with God” and, when Juan leaves, Kino sits observing all the sounds that surround him. Juana sits with him for comfort and sings the song of the family. (full context)
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Kino senses something outside the house and clutches his knife as he walks outside. Juana hears a struggle and when she goes outside, Kino is on the ground with no... (full context)
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Juana brings Kino, half conscious, into the house and wipes off his blood. Kino reports that... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Kino awakes in the middle of the night to see Juana arise from the bed mat, go over to the fireplace, pause by Coyotito, and then... (full context)
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Kino hisses at his wife with bared teeth, while Juana looks back with brave eyes. She is familiar with and unafraid of Kino’s murderousness. Kino... (full context)
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Juana, meanwhile, lifts herself up and reassures herself that Kino is necessary for her survival. She... (full context)
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Following after Kino, Juana comes across the pearl. She is considering whether she ought to try disposing of it... (full context)
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Seeing that Kino has killed the other figure, Juana recognizes that she and Kino have left the life they’d led before, and that there’s... (full context)
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Kino begins to complain of having lost the pearl, but Juana silences him by presenting it. She tries to explain to Kino that they have to... (full context)
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Kino instructs Juana to get Coyotito from the house while he brings the corn and prepares the canoe.... (full context)
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...arrive and Kino, determined, runs towards the house, only to find it engulfed in flames. Juana comes towards Kino, carrying Coyotito, and says that the house had been torn up by... (full context)
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Kino and Juana sit in silence during the day and hear what the neighbors are saying about them... (full context)
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Kino and Juana leave the house before the moon has come out. Juan calls to his brother, “Go... (full context)
Chapter 6
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Juana and Kino discuss the likelihood of whether they are being followed. Kino is certain that... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Juana is playing with Coyotito and Kino is lightly asleep when Kino cries out in a... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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. (full context)
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Kino tells Juana to go north to Loreto or Santa Rosia while he leads the trackers into the... (full context)
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Kino and Juana arrive at a little spring, with water bubbling out of the stone and falling into... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Kino tells Juana the plan—when the trackers follow Kino’s path uphill, Kino and Juana will go back down... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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,... (full context)
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Kino and Juana stand next to one another and the music of the pearl fades away. (full context)