The Pearl

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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.

This doctor was of a race which for nearly four hundred years had beaten and starved and robbed and despised Kino’s race, and frightened it too, so that the indigene came humbly to the door.

Related Characters: Kino, The doctor
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

The perfect morning is irreparably broken when Coyotito is stung on the shoulder by a scorpion. Though Juana quickly sucks out the poison, Kino and Juana fear for their baby's life. Determined to have him healed, Juana declares that they will bring Coyotito to the doctor. In this quote, the narrator notes that the doctor is of a different race than Kino, Juana, and Coyotito. He is a white descendant of Europeans who brutally colonized the lands on which Kino's ancestors have lived for thousands of years. As a result, the doctor has money and influence whereas Kino's people have been subjected to poverty. Collective memory therefore leaves Kino and the townspeople afraid of white people like the doctor, who have historically been cruel and violent to the indigenous people in the area. Juana and Kino's determination to have Coyotito treated by the white doctor is therefore viewed by the town as an act of bravery.

Chapter 2 Quotes

Every year Kino refinished his canoe with the hard shell-like plaster by the secret method that had also come to him from his father. Now he came to the canoe and touched the bow tenderly as he always did.

Related Characters: Kino
Related Symbols: Kino’s Canoe
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

As Kino has no money for which to pay for the doctor's treatments, he is turned away from the doctor's house. In desperation, he decides to try his hand at finding a valuable pearl to sell to raise money for Coyotito's medical treatment. In this quote, the narrator shows how much pride and care Kino takes in his canoe. It is a priceless heirloom passed down from his father, and it is the sole source of his livelihood. In coating it with a "hard-shell like plaster," Kino takes care of his canoe in the same matter that a pearl is made (a pearl is created when a grain of sand enters an oyster, and it coats it in a smooth covering to avoid irritation). Kino's canoe represents his indelible connection to his ancestry, to the pearls in the ocean, and his pride in how he provides and cares for Juana and Coyotito. In touching the bow "tenderly," Kino greets his canoe, personifying it to the point that he provides the object with the same respect that he would a person that he cares for. Without the canoe--a representation of his genealogy, and how he feeds himself and his family--Kino would not be alive.

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.

In the surface of the great pearl he could see dream forms. He picked the pearl from the dying flesh and held it in his palm, and he turned it over and saw that its curve was perfect.

Related Characters: Kino
Related Symbols: The Pearl
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

In diving to search for oysters, Kino sees a large one separated from the clusters of oysters. He is drawn to it for its singularity and a glimmer between its lips, which hints to a pearl within. When he brings it back to the canoe, he opens the oyster with bated breath and is shocked to find a massive pearl inside. In this quote, Kino pries the pearl from the dying oyster and suddenly realizes that it could be his ticket to great wealth. As Kino has lived in poverty his entire life, he believes that all his dreams can come true with a fortune such as this. Since much of the livelihood of the people in the region come from selling pearls, finding such a perfect one in his time of need seems to be a sign that he is destined to do great things. Unfortunately, it turns out that the opposite is the case--nature is uncaring for human fate, and value and "luck" are often determined by corrupt people in power.

Chapter 3 Quotes

The essence of pearl mixed with the essence of men and a curious dark residue was precipitated. Every man suddenly became related to Kino’s pearl, and Kino’s pearl went into the dreams, the speculations, the schemes…of everyone, and only one person stood in the way and that was Kino, so that he became curiously every man’s enemy.

Related Characters: Kino
Related Symbols: The Pearl
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

In the small town, word travels fast, and it is not long until all of the townspeople hear of Kino's pearl. As many of these people earn their living selling pearls from oysters at the bottom of the ocean, they are shocked that it was Kino, a normal man, who has found the "pearl of the world." Immediately, everyone imagines what they would do if they were in possession of such riches--or what they would like to do with Kino's imminent wealth. As the narrator notes, Kino immediately becomes everyone's "enemy"--why was he the one chosen to find such a fortune among a town of pearl divers? Those who wish that they themselves had found the pearl become irrationally angry and jealous that Kino has something they desire. Contrary to the beautiful sheen that coats a pearl and makes it so precious, the town is coated in a "curious dark residue" that makes the previously close, supportive community now envious and vengeful. Without realizing what he has done, Kino is suddenly the target of every man's jealousy and desire, simply because he possesses the pearl.

It was the rifle that broke down the barriers. This was an impossibility, and if he could think of having a rifle whole horizons were burst and he could rush on. For it is said that humans are never satisfied, that you give them one thing and they want something more.

Related Characters: Kino
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

The townspeople ask Kino what he will spend his fortune on once he has sold the pearl. He immediately replies that he and Juana will be married in the Church, and that Coyotito will have new clothes and go to school. In this quote, he also notes that he intends to buy a rifle, which is, to an extent, still viewed as an "impossibility" despite his impending riches. This is because rifles are a European invention, and therefore strictly associated with white colonizers, brutality, and forced submission of indigenous peoples. To have a rifle is for Kino to show the rich whites that fortune has made him their equal, and to show his fellow townspeople that he has risen above the circumstances from which his people have been forced. Yet, as the narrator cautions, even this rifle might not be enough for Kino, based on human nature's inherent dissatisfaction, which continues on even after one's dreams come true. Though his seemingly improbably wish to own a rifle and rise above his circumstances has suddenly been made feasible, Kino may buy one only to want bigger and shinier objects. When great riches fill vacancies in one's life, new vacancies appear.

“I hope thou wilt remember to give thanks, my son, to Him who has given thee this treasure, and to pray for guidance in the future.”

Related Characters: The priest (speaker), Kino
Related Symbols: The Pearl
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

Having heard about the Pearl, the priest visits Kino under the guise of wishing him well, but with the actual intention of influencing him to donate money to the Church. Rather than praising Kino for his good luck, the priest attributes Kino's good fortune to the generosity and guidance of the Christian God.The priest, a white missionary, calls each of the townspeople his "son" or "daughter" in a manner that is traditional, but in this power dynamic may be seen as patronizing. In the colonization of the Americas, conversion was frequently used as a method of control. Instead of treating the natives as his equal, the priest infantilizes them, and believes he can manipulate them under the guise of tenants of the Church. This is similar, though not as extreme, to the way that the doctor nastily notes that he does not like to treat the natives because he is not a "veterinarian," thus implying that he believes the indigenous people as so inferior to him that they are on par with animals.

But now, by saying what his future was going to be like, he had created it. A plan is a real thing, and things projected are experienced. A plan once made and visualized becomes a reality along with other realities—never to be destroyed but easily to be attacked…He knew that the gods take their revenge on a man if he be successful through his own efforts. Consequently Kino was afraid of plans, but having made one, he could never destroy it.

Related Characters: Kino
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

When the townspeople ask Kino how he will spend his riches, he has not thought through his answers: for him and Juana to get married in the Church, for Coyotito to have new clothes and go to school, to buy a rifle for himself. But once he says these plans aloud, and he thinks of the beauty, curve, and size of the pearl, he realizes that these things may very well become a reality. However, the existence of these plans, and their sudden proximity to reality, also means that they are in danger of being attacked and the subject of revenge--just like Kino, now that he is in possession of the Pearl of the World. Knowing this, Kino has never before made such plans, but the Pearl and wealth give his future and imagination a flexibility they have never had before. Having felt the rush of wild dreams that are close to reality, Kino is determined to make these plans come true--but their reality also makes them vulnerable to attack.

And he could not take the chance of pitting his certain ignorance against this man’s possible knowledge. He was trapped as his people were always trapped, and would be until, as he had said, they could be sure that the things in the books were really in the books.

Related Characters: Kino, The doctor
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

The doctor hears about Kino's discovery of the pearl, and suddenly becomes interested in the young family with the injured baby. He goes to Kino's house, and asks to see Coyotito. He tells the worried parents that he has seen the attack of a scorpion sting many times before, and that Coyotito, though seemingly healing, is still in danger. In this quote, Kino is wary of the doctor's claims that Coyotito is still in danger of the scorpion's poison. Yet, he notes that he was "trapped," just as his people had been trapped by colonists for years. When the European colonists came with medicines, religion, and shiny tools--namely guns and rifles that forced the indigenous people into subjugation--the native people were forced to become second-class citizens on lands that their ancestors had occupied for thousands of years. Though Juana is determined to have Coyotito treated by the doctor because he has knowledge and medicines, Kino is skeptical of believing everything the white colonists have to say, just because it comes from books that their people have written. However, he cannot be sure that his skepticism is worth denying his only son treatment, and lets the doctor see Coyotito.

[The doctor] held the eyelid down. “See—it is blue.” And Kino, looking anxiously, saw that indeed it was a little blue. And he didn’t know whether or not it was always a little blue. But the trap was set. He couldn’t take the chance.

Related Characters: The doctor (speaker), Kino, Coyotito, The doctor
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

After examining Coyotito, the doctor points to a blue vein in the baby's eyelid, and claims it to be the poison from the scorpion's sting. Kino, though worried about his son, is still unsure whether the doctor is making things up that he knows Juana and Kino will believe, or if the baby is actually sick.The doctor gives the baby a little bit of powder, claiming that the poison will "attack within the hour." Sure enough, the baby begins to vomit, and the doctor treats him again, saying he has saved Coyotito's life. The reader is left unsure as to whether Coyitoto was actually still ill, or if the first powder the doctor feeds to the baby is poison to make him vomit and thus seem that the doctor saved Coyotito, so that Juana and Kino will feel indebted to him. Given the doctor's unsavory characterization, it is implied that the situation is likely the latter rather than the former. This, too, is Kino's instinct, though he is too nervous for his son's life to deny him treatment from a certified doctor.

“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

All of the neighbors hoped that sudden wealth would not turn Kino’s head, would not make a rich man of him, would not graft onto him the evil limbs of greed and hatred and coldness. For Kino was a well-liked man; it would be a shame if the pearl destroyed him.

Related Characters: Kino
Related Symbols: The Pearl
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

Still reeling from Kino's good fortune, the townspeople continue to gossip about how the riches will affect Kino and his family. In this quote, his neighbors note that they hope the sudden wealth will not change Kino into a greedy and cold man. The only very wealthy people that the townspeople know are white settlers, who cruelly treat the native people as inferiors. As the indigenous people have been subjugated into extreme poverty by the settlers, the luxury of the lives of white people is something that they aspire to, but also one that they abhor. Ironically, it is the townspeople that end up changing Kino, as much as the pearl itself changes him. Because Kino's former friends and peers constantly try to steal the pearl and attack Kino, he becomes paranoid and aggressive, eventually losing not only his potential for wealth and good fortune, but also his past innocence and happiness.

But there was no sign, no movement, the face did not change, but the secret hand behind the desk missed in its precision. The coin stumbled over a knuckle and slipped silently into the dealer’s lap.

Related Characters: The pearl-dealers
Related Symbols: The Pearl
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Knowing that holding onto the pearl makes him a target, Kino brings the pearl to a pearl-dealer the morning after he finds the precious jewel. Of course, the entire town finds out, and follows him to the office of the pearl-dealer. The narrator informs the reader that all the pearl-dealers secretly work for the same employer under a salary, so that there is no competition in prices. The townspeople, who make their living selling pearls, do not know that they have been cheated their entire lives. The pearl-dealer, having heard of Kino's great pearl, acts calm and collected when Kino arrives. He expertly plays with a coin that weaves through his knuckles as he speaks with Kino. In this quote, the pearl-dealer sees the pearl itself for the first time. Even though he keeps a calm face, the fact that he drops the coin means that he is shocked by what he sees. Kino has indeed found the pearl of the world--but the pearl-dealer, like everyone else in town, will attempt to cheat him out of the riches he is due.

“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.

The killing of a man was not so evil as the killing of a boat. For a boat does not have sons, and a boat cannot protect itself, and a wounded boat does not heal.

Related Symbols: Kino’s Canoe
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

After Kino kills the man, Juana and Kino know that they must leave town: now that Kino is in possession of the pearl that everyone wants, nobody will accept that the killing was committed in self-defense. Kino runs to his beloved canoe to prepare it for departure, and discovers that someone has broken a hole in it. In this quote, Kino is horrified to find his canoe broken. It is his prized possession, having been passed down to him by his father, and is the sole source of his livelihood. Though Kino has already been enraged by the attacks, this crime sparks an even deeper rage within the man, as evidenced by this passage, in which he declares the "value" of the canoe even greater than that of his own life. He feels that he and his family are at odds with the entire world, and feels as if it would have hurt less had he been murdered himself. Though Kino does not know who specifically broke his boat, it represents Kino's rejection by the entire town, further encouraging him to flee with the pearl, Juana, and the baby for their collective protection.

Chapter 6 Quotes

And Kino ran for the high place, as nearly all animals do when they are pursued.

Related Characters: Kino
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

With his boat broken, Kino and Juana must escape on foot. They soon hear horses, and realize that they are being followed by skilled trackers. Kino instinctively pulls his family towards the mountains for safety, as this quote notes, "as nearly all animals do when they are pursued." This is the second time in the story that Kino has been compared to an animal, the first time being when the doctor cruelly refers to the native people as animals. In this instance, it symbolizes two things: the first being the basic, animalistic instincts that all humans have to protect themselves when in danger. By heading to a high place, Kino knows that it will take the trackers longer to reach him, particularly on horseback. Second, the narrator may be echoing the thoughts that the trackers, likely white settlers, might have while analyzing the trail. Like the doctor, they may have racist, superior views towards indigenous people in which they do not equate their own intelligences with those of the natives. Similarly, this may just be Steinbeck himself writing his native character as an "other," one who is sympathetic but who is also described with animalistic, simplified language.

“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. 

And the pearl settled into the lovely green water and dropped toward the bottom. The waving branches of the algae called to it and beckoned to it.

Related Symbols: The Pearl
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

Kino offers Juana the pearl to throw back into the ocean, but she urges her husband to do it instead. He tosses the pearl back where he found it, and in this quote, it settles among the algae at the bottom of the sea. The personification of the "waving branches" and the calling and beckoning of the algae suggests that the pearl is a part of some kind of intelligent sea system that has known the pearl would eventually be returned to it (presumably after wreaking havoc among the world of humankind). This ending is rather ominous in one sense, but it also shows how arbitrary are human ideas of value and beauty. The pearl first appeared as lovely and priceless, then in the eyes of the corrupt pearl-dealers its value was lowered as a means of oppression, and then it became a kind of curse and hideous object when it led to so much death and destruction for the family. Now that it has been returned to its natural environment, however, the pearl once again resumes a kind of innocence--something unconcerned with human fate or desires, something beautiful in itself but no more "valuable" than the algae that embraces it.

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