The Pearl

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Kino’s Canoe Symbol Analysis

Kino’s Canoe Symbol Icon
Passed down through three generations, the canoe symbolizes for Kino the tradition and culture of his ancestors. Its importance to him demonstrates how much Kino values both his ancestry and the ability to provide for his family.

Kino’s Canoe Quotes in The Pearl

The The Pearl quotes below all refer to the symbol of Kino’s Canoe. 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.
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.

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Chapter 5 Quotes

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.

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Kino’s Canoe Symbol Timeline in The Pearl

The timeline below shows where the symbol Kino’s Canoe appears in The Pearl. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
Kino and Juana walk to the beach, in the direction of their canoe. Kino had inherited the canoe from his father, who inherited it from his own father.... (full context)
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
Kino and Juana take off in the canoe, and look down at the oyster bed, which, it’s suggested, funded the power and wars... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
Kino reaches the water’s 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... (full context)
Chapter 5
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
...Juana to get Coyotito from the house while he brings the corn and prepares the canoe. But as he approaches the boat, he sees that someone has damaged it with a... (full context)
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
...the pearl contains a devil and that it must be gotten rid of. Without house, canoe, or a virtuous track record, Kino despairs, and begs that Juan allow them to hide... (full context)
Chapter 6
Community Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
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.... (full context)