The Pearl

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.

The Pearl Quotes in The Pearl

The The Pearl quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Pearl. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 6 Quotes

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:
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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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
Nature Theme Icon
...revealing a gleam within. Kino’s heart beats excitedly and he hears loudly the Song of the Pearl . (full context)
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Finally he pries the shell apart, revealing inside a perfect pearl, moon-like—“the greatest pearl in the world.” (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
...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)
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
...Coyotito and finds that the swelling of his shoulder has gone down. Kino clenches the pearl and howls. (full context)
Chapter 3
Community Theme Icon
...time at all for everyone in the town to learn that Kino has found " the Pearl of the World." (full context)
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
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)
Community Theme Icon
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
When the pearl-dealers hear of Kino’s pearl, their fingers burn with anticipation, scheming of how they might become... (full context)
Community Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
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)
Community Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...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)
Community Theme Icon
The music of the family and the music of the pearl combine, each making the other more beautiful. (full context)
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
...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)
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
Kino continues to look into the pearl, seeing new desirable forms in its translucent surface. He sees a harpoon, and then a... (full context)
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
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)
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
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)
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
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)
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
...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)
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
...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)
Community Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...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
Community Theme Icon
...hears about it. So, it’s quickly known by all that Kino intends to sell his pearl. (full context)
Community Theme Icon
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)
Community Theme Icon
...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)
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
...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)
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
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)
Community Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
Kino grabs the pearl and cries that he’s been cheated and will go to the capital. In order not... (full context)
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
...capital, at first wary of the idea and then determined. Juana watches him bury the pearl and feeds Coyotito. (full context)
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...could not identify the attacker, and Juana tries again to convince him to destroy the pearl before it destroys them. (full context)
Chapter 5
Community Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...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)
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...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)
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
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)
Community Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
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)
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
...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)
Community Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...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
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
...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)
Community Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
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)
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Kino puts the pearl back and the music of evil interweaves again with the music of the pearl. (full context)
Race, Tradition, and Oppression Theme Icon
...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)
Community Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
...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)
Community Theme Icon
Value and Wealth Theme Icon
Kino and Juana stand next to one another and the music of the pearl fades away. (full context)