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The Pearl Questions for Thought

By Elizabeth Klein

Chapter 1
1. The doctor contrasts with Kino in many different ways. For starters, the doctor lives
inside the city in a lavish house with a big gate while Kino lives in a small brush house on
the beach. For breakfast, Kino had corn-cakes with pulque as the doctor had bacon,
chocolate, and a sweet biscuit. The doctor belongs to a race which for nearly four
hundred years had beaten and starved and robbed and despised Kinos race, and
frightened it too. His race thinks badly of Kinos people and keeps them in poverty.
The doctors culture consists of fine things, such as egg-shell china and silver trays.
Kinos people live off farming and what they can afford. The two cannot be more
different in their experiences, and lead extremely different lives as a result of their culture
and values.
2. The beggars are uniquely qualified to characterize people because their livelihood
depends on it. As beggars, they spend their time asking people for money. After doing
this for a long enough time, they would probably learn to read people to see who was
most likely give them money. They would need to assess which people were too poor to
give money, which wouldnt be sympathetic toward the beggars, etc. From reading
people for this reason, they would probably become better at reading people as a whole.
This would allow them to better characterize people than most others.
3. The doctor exemplifies the conflict between Kinos people and the doctors people
because he lives in wealth while Kino lives in poverty. As demonstrated in answer 1, the
doctors wealth allows him to enjoy more luxuries than Kino. This disparity is likely
because the doctors people keep Kinos people in poverty, as Kino explains on page 5
when he claims that the doctors people had robbed them. The conflict entails more
than just money, however. The doctors people think they are better than Kinos. The
doctor exemplifies this by deciding not to help Coyotito because he is a doctor, not a
veterinary. He truly believes that he is better than Kinos people. He is the
personification of this conflict itself and treats Kino as such.

Chapter 2
1. Juana feels that it is not good to want a thing too much because her people likely did
not always get what they wanted. After the Spanish colonized them, they likely had all
kinds of hopes and dreams that they longed for but could not have as they were forced
to live in poverty. This value is probably shared by Juana and all her race; to hope is to
ask for things that are reserved for people like the doctor. Juana and her people were
taught to live as second-class citizens and know that receiving a pearl and becoming
wealthy is not something that happens often to them. So she attempts to mask her
wanting and act casual so that she does not get her hopes up for the unlikely.

Chapter 3
1. The towns reacts to Kinos news simultaneously and similarly; the news spreads quickly
and everyone has the same response to it. As stated in the beginning of the chapter,
News seems to move faster than small boys can scramble and dart to tell it, faster than
women can call it over the fences. This happens as soon as word of Kinos pearl gets
out; Before panting little boys could strangle out the words, their mothers knew it. The
news swept on past the brush houses, and it washed in a foaming wave into the town of
stone and plaster. Additionally, when the neighbors gather around Kinos hut to witness
his discovery, they all respond in the same way. When Kino talks about the rifle, the
chapter states, The neighbors, close pressed and silent in the house, nodded their
heads at his wild imaginings. After Kino discusses his sons education, the neighbors
agree that time would now date from Kino's pearl, and that they would discuss this
moment for many years to come. These acknowledgements are stated collectively, for
the neighbors are true to their description at the beginning of a chapter. While they are
composed of individuals, the neighbors themselves are a group. As Steinbeck states,
the town has a whole emotion. This is why the news spreads so quickly and the
neighbors all feel the same way about Kinos pearl; they are the sum of their parts.
2. The dramatic irony in chapter 3 primarily revolves around the fact that the reader knows
everyone wishes to profit off Kinos pearl, but Kino does not. This happens when the
doctor first hears the news. He insists that Kino is his client, and that he is treating
Coyotito for a scorpion sting. The reader knows that this is not true; the doctor refused
to help Kino and his son earlier in the chapter because they had no money. However,
after hearing of Kinos pearl and realizing the wealth that would soon follow it, he
decides to help Kino again. This dramatic irony occurs also when the priest hears about
the pearl. He immediately thinks of all the repairs that must be made in the church.
Steinbeck states that the priest wondered what the pearl would be worth. He also
wonders if he had baptized Coyotito or married Juana and Kino. This is because he
wants to profit from the pearl to help his church and is looking for an angle to persuade
Kino. He wonders if he can receive some of Kinos fortune by appealing to the fact that
Kino and Juana had previously been involved with the church. Both the priest and the
doctor care nothing really of Kino and his family; they simply want to reap the benefits of
Kinos pearl. The reader knows and recognizes this when reading chapter 3, but Kino
and Juana do not. But Kino and Juana did not know these things. Because they were
happy and excited they thought everyone shared their joy. The couple is naive, they
believe that everyone will share in their joy. The dramatic irony in this chapter
contributes to the theme that greed is dangerous. Everyone wants part of Kino and
Juanas fortune, and this chapter shows that they are willing to lie and manipulate to get
it.
3. Kino likely hears the Song of Evil when the priest enters his home because he has not
followed many of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. While it is implied that
Coyotito has had his baptism, the reader is not sure whether Kino and Juana have or
not. The Sacrament of Baptism represents the entrance of a person to the Catholic
Church and is strongly supported by the Church. Without it, one cannot be saved. If
Kino were not baptized, he mightve heard the Song of Evil as a representation of his
guilt of not ever truly entering the Church. Kino also states earlier that he and Juana had
not had enough money to be married. This contrasts with the Sacrament of Matrimony;
a contract of marriage between two spouses. While he may have also disobeyed other
sacraments, there is not enough evidence to decide. However, even lacking in these
two important passages may have made Kino regretful enough to worry about meeting
the Priest. This may have manifested itself into the Song of Evil to Kino.

Chapter 4
1. The priests sermon that Kino and his brother discuss does not just concern religion. It is
about staying within ones rank; a message that people like the priest and the doctor
want people like Kino to believe. In post-Colonial Mexico, people from the stone and
plaster city look down on people who live in the brush huts. The wealthier people, likely
the Spanish, believe themselves to be better than the poor native Mexicans. The priest
delivered the sermon with attempts to keep the poor from revolting against the societys
order. Kino summarizes a part of the sermon when he says, each one must remain
faithful to his post and must not go running about. This represents the want of the
wealthy to stay in power over the poor. The priest highlights the importance of this
message by threatening his audience with religion; he says that if everyone were to wish
for a new station, then the castle [of the Universe] is in danger from the assaults of
Hell. This tricks the listeners into believing that the priest wants whats best for
everyone to avoid religious punishment, rather than his true motive of keeping power
over the poor.
2. Kino recognizes the disadvantages of his lack of education when he goes to sell the
pearl. On the way to the buyers office, his brother tells him to be careful. We do not
know what prices are paid in other places.How can we know what is a fair price, if we
do not know what the pearl buyer gets for the pearl in another place. When Kino meets
with the buyer, he appraises the pearl and claims it is worth only 1,000 pesos. When
Kino hears this, he knows that the buyer is attempting to cheat him. However, like his
brother says, he does not know the true value of the pearl. He has no reference for it;
he does not know the value of pearls in other cities. Kino knows hes being deceived,
but cannot go against the word of a pearl expert. Even the neighbors agree with this
sentiment, they believe that surely the dealers knew more about the value of pearls than
they. If Kino had an education and had the ability to see places other than his home, he
might know the true value of his pearl. However, he is ignorant to these things. This
forces him to decide to travel all the way to the capital to sell his pearl rather than stay
and be cheated.
3. Kino steps out of the trusted order by choosing not to sell his pearl in town and instead
going to the capital. Not many people would do what Kino chooses, many claim that it
would have been better if Kino took the one thousand five hundred pesos. These
people wouldve rather just accepted the buyers deceit than go to the capital in search
of a better deal. However, Kino is not content with the cheating he experiences. He
wants an education for his son, he wants to be married, he wants new clothes and a rifle.
So instead of doing what most others would have done, he revolts. As Juan Tomas
says, Kino has defied not the pearl buyers, but the whole structure, the whole way of
life. He interrupts the patterns that his town has established by stepping outside the
comfort zone and doing what he thinks is right.
Chapter 5
1. Juana and Kinos relationship first begins to deteriorate when Juana steals away with the
pearl. Knowing how important the pearl was to Kino, Juana attempted to rid of it anyway
for the greater benefit for her family. Doing this destroyed any loyalty Kino saw in her;
she knew of its meaning to Kino and still tried to throw it away. The relationship worsens
when Kino finds her trying to throw the pearl into the sea. He beats her severely; He
struck her in the face with his clenched fist and she fell among the boulders, and he
kicked her in the side. The last event which exemplifies the worsening of this marriage
is when Juana and Kino finally look at each other after he beats her. Juana stares at
him with wide unfrightened eyes.She knew there was murder in him, and it was all
right; she had accepted it, and she would not resist or even protest. She was so
determined to get rid of the burden that the pearl placed on them that she was willing to
die for its destruction. This would make it impossible for Kino ever to trust his wife again,
especially with the pearl. These events put great strain on Kino and Juanas
relationship; Kino is unable to trust Juana and Juana knows that Kino is capable of
seriously hurting her.
2. Kino claims that the pearl has become his soul because it now dictates all his actions.
All the problems he faces and the decisions that come from them are because his
choices are influenced by the pearl. When Juana goes to throw away the pearl at the
beach, he beats her mercilessly before taking back the pearl. Later, when someone
attacks him after he leaves the beach, he kills him. He lunged at one dark figure and
felt his knife go home. Then, as soon as the attack was over, he searches frantically for
the pearl. When he goes back to his brush hut to find it set ablaze, he asks to hide in
Juan Tomass house before sneaking off at night to run away with the pearl. All of Kinos
actions are decided by his connection with the object. This reveals that he is an
extremely determined man; after countless misfortunes that would dissuade any other
person from keeping the pearl, he still fights for it. It has become Kinos soul because it
is the reasoning behind all that he does.

Chapter 6
1. As the story progresses, Kinos visions in the pearl become darker. At the beginning of
the story, he looked into the pearl and saw a bright future. He and Juana were married,
they had new clothes, Kino had a rifle and a harpoon, and Coyotito had an education.
However, after Kino and Juana flee to the clearing off the roadside, Kino looks into the
pearl and sees all the bad things that have come of it. He saw only a huddled dark
body on the ground with shining blood dripping from its throat...he saw Juana with her
beaten face crawling home through the night.And there in the pearl Coyotitos face,
thick and feverish from the medicine. When he looks at the surface of the pearl a final
time after returning to the Gulf, he sees Evil faces in it. He sees the frantic eyes of the
man in the pool. He saw Coyotito lying in the little cave with the top of his head shot
away. After seeing this, he throws the pearl into the water. Where he once saw a
better life in the pearl, the story ends with him seeing only the Evil that came with it.
2. LiteraryDevices.net claims that Aristotles tragic figure has six characteristics: hamartia,
hubris, peripeteia, anagnorisis, nemesis, and catharsis. Hamartia is a fatal flaw of a
tragic hero that leads to their downfall. Kinos fatal flaw is his greed. He wants fortune
so badly that he puts his entire family at risk. Over the course of the story, he flees his
town, beats his wife, kills men, and gets his son killed all because of his want for a better
life. While this desire is okay in moderation, he wanted it too badly. As his wife said, it is
not good to want a thing too much. In doing so, he became greedy. He lost his son
and ruined his life as a result. Hubris is an extreme pride and disregard of a tragic figure
for the accepted order. Kino displays his hubris by denying to sell his pearl to the buyer
in town and choosing to go to the capital instead. In doing so, he rejects what is
normally done by his people. His brother claims that in doing so, he defied not the
pearl buyers, but the whole structure, the whole way of life. Kino had so much
self-confidence in his ability to sell the pearl and gain a fortune that he did what no one
else from his town had done before. He did not doubt that he would get his fortune, and
this excessive pride led him to keep the pearl; endangering himself and his family.
Peripeteia is defined by LiteraryDevices.net as the reversal of fate that a tragic figure
experiences. Kinos reversal of fortune occurs when Coyotito is shot. Up until that point,
Kino continues to fight to stay alive and keep his pearl. He holds onto the idea that he
can gain his fortune and a better life. However, when Coyotito is killed, his mindset
changes completely. He no longer believes that the pearl will make his life better
because his son dies. Anagnorisis is the recognition of a tragic figure that comes from
the peripeteia. Kinos anagnorisis is when he realizes that with the pearl comes Evil.
When he reaches the Gulf after Coyotito is shot, Kino looks into the surface of the pearl.
He sees faces of Evil, men he has killed, and his sons death. He realizes that the pearl
only ever brought a dangerous greed. His want for it led to his downfall. He recognizes
this and flung the pearl with all his might into the waters of the Gulf. Kinos nemesis, or
unavoidable rival, was the pearl itself. Throughout the entire story, Kinos problems all
come from the pearl. He initially found it for the purpose of healing his son. However,
through the book, it only brings sickness, greed, fleeing, destruction, and death. It even
reverses the original purpose of healing Coyotito and is the reason for his death.
Throughout The Pearl, Kino struggles to keep the pearl while all it does is bring him
misfortune. Finally, catharsis is the release or cleansing of emotions after a tragic hero
experiences their anagnorisis. Kinos catharsis occurs when he throws the pearl into the
Gulf. After reflecting at all the hurt that came from the pearl, he decides to get rid of it
forever. This is his catharsis; after recognizing the Evil in the pearl, he purges himself of
it. In doing so, he becomes clean of the pearl and all its Evil. Overall, Kino is the
epitome of Aristotles tragic figure. He experiences a great misfortune due to his hubris,
and suffered undeservedly for it. His fatal flaw cost him everything; he recognizes this,
learns from it, and is tormented for it. The combination of these characteristics make
him a prime and indisputable example of a tragic hero.

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