The Pearl

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The Pearl Symbol Analysis

The Pearl Symbol Icon
The pearl is a complicated symbol. It highlights different themes and gathers new meaning as the plot progresses. When Kino first opens the oyster in which it lies, the pearl seems to signify that God is looking favorably on Kino and Juana. It soon becomes clear, however, that finding the pearl is not good fortune at all. Rather, it surfaces the evil and greedy impulses of everyone that comes into contact with it and thus symbolizes the materialism and selfishness of man’s desires. It represents, too, the arbitrariness of value and the capacity of an economic system to prevent those who are powerless from rising above their present state. Created by an accident with a grain of sand, the pearl is assigned a price—the lowest price possible—by conspiring pearl-dealers. Kino is cheated in this system because he is not powerful enough (and is assumed to be too ignorant) to see through the scandal and fight it.
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The Pearl Symbol Timeline in The Pearl

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Pearl appears in The Pearl. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
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...revealing a gleam within. Kino’s heart beats excitedly and he hears loudly the Song of the Pearl . (full context)
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Finally he pries the shell apart, revealing inside a perfect pearl, moon-like—“the greatest pearl in the world.” (full context)
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...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 had punched the doctor’s gate. (full context)
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...Coyotito and finds that the swelling of his shoulder has gone down. Kino clenches the pearl and howls. (full context)
Chapter 3
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...time at all for everyone in the town to learn that Kino has found " the Pearl of the World." (full context)
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When the doctor hears of Kino’s pearl, he openly declares that Kino is his client and that he is treating Kino’s son.... (full context)
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When the pearl-dealers hear of Kino’s pearl, their fingers burn with anticipation, scheming of how they might become... (full context)
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People in the town begin associating the pearl with their own dreams and desires. Kino, who stands in the way as the pearl’s... (full context)
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...the afternoon, neighbors gather in their brush house and stare in awe at the beautiful pearl, and consider Kino’s luck in finding it. (full context)
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The music of the family and the music of the pearl combine, each making the other more beautiful. (full context)
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...Juana will be married in a church. He sees visions of their marriage in the pearl—Juana in a new skirt and shoes, he in a new felt hat, Coyotito in an... (full context)
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Kino continues to look into the pearl, seeing new desirable forms in its translucent surface. He sees a harpoon, and then a... (full context)
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Juana looks admiringly at Kino while he sees in the pearl visions of ever-grander dreams. He pictures Coyotito at a desk and says aloud that his... (full context)
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The priest tells Kino that he’s heard of the pearl, and that he hopes that Kino will thank God for it and pray to Him... (full context)
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Kino says that he will pay the doctor once he’s sold his pearl. The doctor feigns to not have heard about the pearl, and offers to secure it... (full context)
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...everyone has left, Kino listens to the sounds of the night and then reburies the pearl in a hole under his sleeping mat. To Juana’s inquiry about who Kino fears, he... (full context)
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...and Juana begins to make a fire and clean Kino’s head wound. She decries the pearl as evil, a sin, and begs Kino to throw it into the sea before it... (full context)
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...plunging it into the earth. Morning sounds enter the house and Kino pulls out the pearl to admire it, full of promise and comfort. Kino and Juana smile together, as one,... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...hears about it. So, it’s quickly known by all that Kino intends to sell his pearl. (full context)
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The fishermen will not look for fish today. All the neighbors talk of the pearl and what they would do if they’d found it. Most of them fantasize about religious... (full context)
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...to go with Coyotito, Kino tilting his hat forward to convey his serious intentions. The pearl lies in a leather bag in Kino’s pocket. (full context)
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...with the coin behind his desk as he speaks to Kino, asks to see the pearl, and promises the best price. Kino brings out the bag slowly, with great suspense, and... (full context)
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The neighbors whisper to each other as the dealer fingers the pearl, before throwing it back into the tray and declaring the pearl worthless because it is... (full context)
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Kino grabs the pearl and cries that he’s been cheated and will go to the capital. In order not... (full context)
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...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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...could not identify the attacker, and Juana tries again to convince him to destroy the pearl before it destroys them. (full context)
Chapter 5
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...to run towards the water and lifts her arm with the intention of throwing the pearl. Kino jumps on her, grabs the pearl from her hand, and then hits her face... (full context)
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...engages in a fight with another body whose fingers search through his clothes for the pearl. The pearl is forced from Kino’s hand and lands upon the ground. (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 again when she sees... (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... (full context)
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...the attacks and the murder he committed in self-defense, to which Juan replies that the pearl contains a devil and that it must be gotten rid of. Without house, canoe, or... (full context)
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...calls to his brother, “Go with God,” and asks if he might give up the pearl. To this, Kino responds that the pearl has become his soul. (full context)
Chapter 6
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Kino puts the pearl back and the music of evil interweaves again with the music of the pearl. (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Kino and Juana stand next to one another and the music of the pearl fades away. (full context)