The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Kino is a fisherman, Juana is his wife and their baby is named Coyotito. Kino and Juana were both awake now. Kino was very attune to the sea and the natural environment. It was a perfect morning. His wife sang family songs to Coyotito. Kino entered the brush house now. He and his wife rarely spoke, but they were very close to each other. Suddenly, there was a scorpion on the rope and it was approaching the box where Coyotito was resting in. Juana started chanting, in the hope that the scorpion would leave. It was in that moment that the scorpion bit Coyotito. Just following that, Kino crushed it. Juana tried to use her mouth to suck out the poison from Coyotito. Coyotito screamed in pain. The baby had a real chance of dying from the sting. Kino was impressed by the bravery of his wife. The doctor didn’t visit the brush houses as he often attended to richer patients. Juana decided to head to the doctor instead. Juan Tomas was Kino’s brother and Apolonia was his wife. The whole community soon got to know of this incident. The doctor was apparently a very cruel man. The doctor was from a race that despised Kino’s in the past and Kino had second thoughts about visiting him. He dismissed the case, saying that he didn’t help ‘little Indians’. The messenger revealed to Kino that since he could only offer pathetic pearls as payment, the doctor did not want to see him. The villagers were in disgust. Kino was literally shamed in public. In anger, Kino punched the gate with his fists.

Canoes were parked alongside the beach. A hazy mirage was forming in the air. Kino and Juana headed to their canoe. The canoe they owned was 3 generations old. It guaranteed at least a supply of food via fishing. Kino took delicate care of the canoe. Coyotito was puffed and feeling feverish now. Juana applied seaweed on Coyotito’s shoulder. Now, she was praying that Kino could find a pearl as a means of paying the doctor. However, finding one was never easy. Now, Kino started tearing the oysters apart and placed them in a basket. It would take a great deal of luck to find a pearl in an oyster. Juana, still on the canoe, started singing the Song of the Undersea. Now, Kino surfaced with his haul. There was an oyster which was not surrounded by others and he grabbed that as well. Reluctantly, Kino opened his largest oyster. Inside it, was a pearl, perfect like the moon. It was a brilliant pearl, possibly the largest in the world. It had perfect curvature. The swelling in Coyotito was subsiding.

It is not good to want a thing too much. It sometimes drives the luck away. You must want it just enough, and you must be very tactful with the gods. – John Steinbeck

News spread like wildfire. Everyone knew that Kino found the best pearl around. The doctor now proclaimed that Kino’s son was his victim and fantasized about heading to Paris. It was the Pearl of the World. Now, many people took interest in Kino, and many of them were just trying to be greedy. The town was venomous now. Kino and his family didn’t know that yet. Kino proclaimed that he would get married with Juana and then they could have a grand wedding with new clothes. Kino now fantasized about getting a rifle. Humans are never satisfied. Now, Kino also believed that the new found wealth could be used to develop Coyotito’s education. Suddenly, the priest appeared from nowhere. In a quick turn of events, Kino sensed that song of the pearl was evil now. Kino knew he had to face the world, where others set up to destroy his dream and ambition. It was then that the servant and his doctor paid Coyotito a visit. He warned them that the scorpion might dissipate for a while, but there would be lingering effects on the body. Kino didn’t know much about the sting and let the doctor into his house. The doctor knew that Kino couldn’t take a risk on his son. The doctor gave Coyotito some medication to consume. Kino concealed the pearl in a rag and placed in at the corner of the house. Now, the baby was flushed and was suffering from stomach cramps. Coyotito vomited. The neighbours thought that luck brought bitter friends. Now, the doctor re-entered and gave the baby 3 drops of ammonia. However, Kino was suspicious of the white powder that the doctor first administered as a form of medication. Kino vowed to pay the doctor after he had sold the pearl. Kino moved the pearl to a location under his sleeping mat. His behaviour was suspicious in nature. No one could be trusted. Late into the night, Kino heard footsteps. Kino stabbed at the creature with a knife, forcing it to retreat. In that process, Kino got slightly hurt. Juana proclaimed that the pearl has brought them evil and she wanted to dispose of it immediately. Kino took out the pearl, stared and it and they began the day with hope. It was necessary to send Coyotito to school in order to break out of the poverty cycle.

Every man suddenly became related to Kino’s pearl, and Kino’s pearl went into the dreams, the speculations, the schemes, the plans, the futures, the wishes, the needs, the lusts, the hungers, of everyone, and the only one person stood in the way and that was Kino, so that he became curiously every man’s enemy. – John Steinbeck

If every single man and woman, child and baby, acts and conducts itself in a known pattern and breaks no walls and differs with no one and experiments in no way and is not sick and does not endanger the ease and peace of mind or steady unbroken flow of the town, then that unit can disappear and never be heard of. – John Steinbeck

Everyone knew that Kino would sell the pearl today. The fishermen all didn’t fish that day. Many wished that the pearl would not destroy a good man like Kino .In the past, people used agents to sell their pearls. But the agents all disappeared. It was best to do it alone this time. Kino removed his pearl and showed the buyer. The man offered him a thousand pesos and said that it was too large and was like fool’s gold. Kino was angry at his reply. The pearl was large but it was a strange colour. The dealer challenged Kino to go ask other people to value his pearl. The first dealer did not want to bid for it, calling it a monstrosity. The second guy said that it wouldn’t last long. The final dealer offered 500 pesos. Kino complained that he was cheated and wanted to head to the capital now. The last deal was 1500 pesos. Kino was not convinced. Kino’s actions were rated differently by the villagers. Some thought he was brave, some thought he was stupid for heading to the capital when he had no guarantee he could find another buyer. His brother was fearful that Kino was walking on dangerous territory where he didn’t know the way. Kino was brooding and occasionally turned to his wife for support. Someone later stabbed Kino. Blood was oozing from him and Kino was only half conscious. Juana helped him and nursed him now. She wanted him to dispose of it, but Kino clung on to it and refused to let it go.

The next day, they would head to the capital on their canoe. In the night, Juana tried to throw away the pearl into the ocean. Kino saw her in the nick of time and hit her in anger. Juana didn’t appear frightened and knew that Kino was half insane and half god. Later, Kino killed a man, who he thought stole the pearl. However, the pearl was actually still in Juana’s possessions. Kino realized that a large hole has been found in his canoe. Someone had sabotaged it. Kino was filled with rage and behaved like an animal now. Their house was also lit ablaze. Thankfully, the baby was safe. In order to seek refuge, Kino went over to his brother’s house. His brother was disappointed at the turn of events but vowed to protect Kino and his wife and child. The wind was favourable for Kino to travel.

This pearl has become my soul. If I give it up, I shall lose my soul. Go thou also with God – Kino

Kino was glad that there would be no tracks when he moved about. Kino experienced a rush of exhilaration. They walked all night. Now, it was warm again. Kino didn’t manage to see who attacked him. He dreamt of what he could do with the money earned from selling the pearl. Juana did not sleep. Now, they sensed some trackers and could spot that one of them had a rifle. Kino could not cover his tracks well. Thankfully, the trackers left for the moment and didn’t manage to detect them. Kino thought about going into the mountains to escape from them. They went to high ground, although the terrain was bad. Kino now wanted to distract the trackers while his wife and kid went to hide. Juana refused, saying that they must stick together. Even the spring they came across was dry and barren. Finally, they managed to find some water. From the distance, he spotted 2 trackers. Now, their plan was to hide in the shallow caves. Now the three trackers climbed the slope and started eating. Kino’s plan was to get to the man with the rifle first, while the other two men were sleeping. Kino removed his white shirt as it would attract attention in the darkness. Then he was gone. Kino was creeping quietly down the mountain. Now, 20 feet separated him and the enemy. The moon suddenly emerged from the clouds and Kino knew he was too late. Then the watchers heard a cry of a human child. The man thought it was a coyote and cocked his rifle. Now, Kino leapt with his knife and slashed at the man. Kino was a deadly man. Now, Kino heard the crying sound again, it was the cry of death. Kino and Juana returned to their homeland. Kino had a rifle with him now. Coyotito was killed in the process of the battle. They stared at the pearl for a long time and recounted how Coyotito was killed. Finally, Kino flung the pearl away with all his might. The music of the pearl finally disappeared.

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