Social structures such as the family, village, and town, are central to The Pearl. The central unit, for Kino and Juana, is the family. Their daily lives and routines are organized around the family, and they make sacrifices for each other and for their son, Coyotito.
Outside the family’s hut is the village, which is small and generally comes together to follow and support Kino and his family when they are in need. The “Pearl of the World,” however, brings worldly concerns of wealth and self-advancement into the village and town, and brings out the worst in the neighbors. It inspires the individualistic greed of the neighbors who try to rob Kino’s home, and the communal conspiring of the pearl dealers who attempt cheat Kino of his deserved money. In the end, the one unit that remains united and strong and full of mutual love, even after loss and injury, is the family: Kino, Juana, and their dead son, Coyotito.
Community Quotes in The Pearl
“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…”
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.