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The parable The Pearl deals with a drastic incident in the life of Kino, a poor Indian fisherman, and his wife. The story is set in the little village La Paz, which is situated on the coast of the Gulf on California.
A new day begins and Kino awakens next to his wife Juana in their simple hut which is made of brush. The couple sleeps on mats on the dirt floor and their little son Coyotito sleeps in a hanging box. Kino is happy and content with his life despite the family is very poor. He watches the sunrise and listens to the sounds of the morning. During he watches the sunrise he hears the Song of the Family in his mind.
When Kino hears the Song of the Family playing in his mind, it’s an indication, that all is well. The Song of the Family or the Song of Evil, which occurs later in the play, are songs who play in the minds of the Indian people in this story. These ancient songs have been passed from generation to generation and they start to play in the minds of the Indian people when good or evil things happen.
But suddenly a disaster happens, because a poisonous scorpion stings Coyotito. Juana takes her child immediately and sucks out the poison. Because of the screaming of Coyotito the whole neighbourhood comes to the hut of the family, including Kino’s brother Juan Thomas and his wife Apolonia. Juana tells Kino to get the doctor, but this is impossible, because of the class distinction between Indian people and Spanish people. Kino also has no money, to pay the doctor for his treatment. But Juana isn’t impressed by that and decides to go to the doctor, because she wants to do everything for her child. When the neighbourhood gets to know about their plan, they join Kino and Juana walking to the doctor. But as supposed, the doctor denies to examine Coyotito, because he family owns no money. Therefore Kino is in rage and he angrily punches the door.
The next morning, when Kino and Juana come down to the beach, she makes a poultice of seaweed and put it on Coyotito’s shoulder. This remedy is probably as good as the treatment of the doctor, but the remedy lacks his authority, because it is simple and doesn’t cost anything. Then they push the canoe into the water and paddle together to the oyster bed where Kino fishes and searches for pearls. Kino knows, that a great pearl will bring him a lot of money, but he doesn’t dare to hope for such a great pearl, because it isn’t good to want too much. A short time after Kino started to dive, he finds a large oyster in which is a great and perfect pearl. Now Kino’s troubles seem to be over and he believes that the pearl will make him rich and that his son Coyotito can be cured and go to school some day. While Kino he holds the pearls in his hand, the swelling of Coyotito’s shoulder has gone down. It seems, that the poison is leaving the body of the child. Kino is screams very loud, because he is so happy now, and this loud screaming attracts the other fishers and divers and they come to his canoe to look what has happened.
Because Kino is a rich man now, the other people are envious of him and he becomes an outsider. In the following night he is even attacked by a thief, who wants to steal the great pearl. And the people become interested in Kino, because they want his money. The priest comes, because he needs money for some repairs of the church and even the doctor claims now, that the son of the family, Coyotito, is a patient of him. When the doctor comes to Kino's hut, Kino is filled with fear and rage, but he lets the doctor in when he claims, that there can be a delayed reaction to the scorpion sting. The doctor makes a great show and uses different remedies to “heal” Coyotito, who already seems very healthy. He even visits Coyotito a second time and claims then, that he won the fight against the death.
Later in the night Kino is attacked a second time by a thief in their hut. Kino is wounded in the fight and Juana begs Kino now to throw the pearl away, because she feels it is evil and it will destroy the family. But Kino refuses, because he wants to realise his dreams.
The next day Kino tries to sell the pearl to pearl buyers in the town, but they only offer him a very small amount of money. They know, that the pearl is worth a lot, but they want to buy it very cheap and pretend that it is no good. Kino is very angry about this and says that he will sell his pearl in the capital, because he wants to get a fair price.
In the evening, Kino is attacked again, but he can chase away the attacker. Juana believes, that the pearl is evil and wants Kino once more to throw it away. Later in the night, Juana removes quietly from her sleeping place and goes out of the hut with something in her hand. She wants to throw the pearl away, but Kino stops her and beats her for this attempt. When he returns to his hut, Kino is attacked again, but this time by two men. He kills one of them and the other one escapes. Kino knows that he must go away now, because he killed someone. Before they can escape, their canoe is destroyed and their hut is burned. They hide until the next night in the hut of Kino’s brother, Juan Thomas.
In the following night the family start their journey to the capital, but soon they realise, that they are chased by a group of three people. The family flee up the mountain and hide in a small cave and their pursuers pitch their camp not far away from them. Kino knows that the only possibility to survive is, to kill one person of the group, to take his rifle, and to kill the other two, who are sleeping.
When Kino starts to attack the man with the rifle, suddenly his son Coyotito begins to cry and the man with the rifle shoots in this direction. But then Kino overpowers the man and he also kills the other two man. When Kino returns to the cave, he sees that his son Coyotito was killed before by the shot of the man.
On the next day Kino and Juana return to their town carrying their dead child and the rifle. They walk through the town to the coast without speaking to anyone and throw the pearl into the sea.
Kino: He is an honest and responsible man, who dives for pearls to support his family. He works very hard, but nevertheless he is very poor. When his son Coyotito gets ill, he hopes to find a pearl to able to pay for his cure. He also hopes, that such a pearl provides him and his family peace and wealth in the future. Like most human beings, he wants to get ahead.
But Kino is also very intelligent, because he knows that he and the other Indians have been exploited by rich and powerful man. He also realises, that he has become a new victim for the exploitation by powerful men after he had found the pearl. The doctor or the pearl buyers are the best example for such men. But Kino becomes aware of this and in the end of the story he sees, that the powerful and rich man would even kill him and his family, to get more power and money.
Juana: She is a very intelligent and responsible personality, but also a loving and devoted wife. At first it seems, that she is completely servile and that she would do anything what Kino wants. But in course of the play we see that she has a great inner strength and will. For example at the beginning, when her son is bitten by a scorpion, she acts in the right way and tries to suck out the poison out of Coyotito’s body. She also insists that they go to the doctor, although the other people mean, that the doctor won’t cure Coyotito.
Juana has also a strong instinct to save the life of her baby. When the doctor refuses to cure Coyotito, Kino punches angrily on the door of the doctor, but his wife acts in the right way and tries to heal Coyotito by putting a poultice of seaweed on the shoulder of her son.
She also acts with the same strength when she wants to throw the pearl away, because she believes that this pearl threatens her family, but in this case Kino has his way and is able to stop her.
The doctor: He is the typical rich and powerful inhabitant of “La Paz”. For him, money counts more than a human life. Even when Kino and Juana comes to his house with their ill son Coyotito, he refuses to cure him, because he wouldn’t get any money for the treatment. But when he hears that Kino found a pearl and is now a rich man, he claims that Coyotito is his patient and pretends to worry about the ill baby. Therefore the doctor is a very materialistic character, who symbolises the arrogance of powerful people towards poor people.