The setting of the novel is in La Paz, a small fishing village where Kino and his family reside. The doctor and the other people live in the town, which is located nearby. Later in the book, Kino decides to sell his pearl in the capital. He leaves his fishing village and travels north. Much of the action takes place on the beaches along the way.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
A prototypical Mexican-Indian who works as a pearl diver, he begins the story as a devoted father and husband to Coyotito and Juana, respectively. Kino is the central character of the story, a layman who finds himself becoming increasingly violent, paranoid and defiant as he faces opposition from others after he finds the pearl, and resorts to assaulting Juana and murdering those who threaten him.
The mother of Coyotito and the wife of Kino, Juana is, as her name suggests, the representation of woman for Steinbeck in the story. She dutifully supports her husband, despite his worsening treatment of her, but warns him against the dangers that the pearl can bring to the family. Juana remains steadfast throughout the story and devoted to maintaining her family. She even refuses to obey Kino when he suggests that they take separate paths to avoid the trackers.
The infant son of Kino and Coyotito, after he is stung by a scorpion, the doctor refuses to treat him because his parents have no money. Although Juana seemingly cures him with a seaweed poultice, he receives treatment from the doctor only after Kino finds the pearl. When Kino and Juana are hunted by trackers after escaping La Paz, one of the trackers shoots Coyotito in the head as they hide in a cave.
A fat, complacent man who is not from the same race as Kino and Juana, he refuses to treat Coyotito for a scorpion sting when Kino and Juana cannot pay enough. However, once he learns that Kino has found the Pearl of the World, he treats the healed Coyotito after leading Kino and Juana to believe that Coyotito may suffer unseen consequences from the bite. Seemingly interested in stealing the pearl, the doctor is not of the same race as Kino and Juana, and longs for his days in Paris.
The brother of Kino and the husband of Apolonia, he warns Kino against the disastrous consequences that he faces from finding the pearl. Juan Tomas hides Kino and Juana in his house after Kino murders a man in self-defense.
The fat wife of Juan Tomas, Apolonia allows Kino and Juana to hide in her house after Kino murders a man in self-defense.
The protagonist of the novel is Kino, the pearl diver, and the entire plot revolves around him. At the beginning of the play, Kino is described as a simple family man, content with his surroundings and wanting nothing more than a full stomach and a placid life. When the scorpion bites his son, he takes him to the doctor. The doctor's curt response and refusal to help Coyotito causes Kino to search for the pearl. He discovers the greatest pearl in the world, which seems to incur the wrath of the gods. After finding the pearl, Kino must endure continuous hazards, which leave him afraid, yet unrelenting and defiant. Although he fights the evil forces behind the pearl, he cannot overcome them. He finally loses his most precious possession, his only son to the evil forces. The novel comes full circle with Kino flinging the pearl back to the sea from where it had come. Kino's character as a tough, resilient hardy man has been beautifully depicted.
Kino's antagonist is the beautiful pearl, which breeds greed, envy, and evil amongst the people around Kino, who are jealous of his newfound wealth.
In chapter six, Kino and his family flee from their country to go and sell their pearl. Evil trackers, hoping to steal the pearl, follow them on their journey. Coyotito's cry reveals the presence of Kino and his family, and the trackers shoot and kill their son. Finally, Kino hurls the pearl back into the sea.
The novel ends in tragedy. After the death of Coyotito, there is nothing left for Kino and Juana. The pearl has no value to them, for the main reason for selling it is to provide for their son. Now he is gone. The novel ends with Kino and Juana returning to their country, utterly forlorn and defeated. As the entire village follows them, the couple walks to the sea. There, Kino takes the pearl in his hand and flings it into the water, where it slowly disappears.
In The Pearl, John Steinbeck show that wealth can have dire consequences as it breeds greed, envy, and evil; sometimes in the possessor of the wealth and sometimes in those who surround the wealthy. Kino's discovery of the pearl should have brought him wealth and happiness; instead, it brings ill tidings and creates vast sorrow in his life.
John Steinbeck also shows man's inhumanity to his fellow man throughout the novel. The wealthy people, represented by the doctor, force the poor class of people to exist on simple food and in humble dwellings. They seize the wealth for themselves and refuse kindness or charity to those in the lower class, as evidenced by the doctor's refusal to treat Coyotito. At the same time, the wealthy trample one another as they struggle to climb the ladder to wealth and success.
1. Greed and selfishness
• The doctor refuses to treat Coyotito because he will not work for free.
• The doctor is only interested in treating Coyotito after he learns about the great pearl that Kino has discovered.
• The attackers and trackers attempt to steal the pearl from Kino
• The pearl buyers plan to cheat Kino into selling the pearl at a very low price.
• When Kino finds the pearl, everyone hopes for something from it. These include:
# Kino’s plans
• Get married in church
• Buy new clothing for his family.
• Get a rifle and harpoon
• Send Coyotito to school
# Other people’s plan
• The priest thinks of repair to be made to the church
• The shopkeepers think of the goods that have not sold well.
• The doctor sees himself in Paris sitting in a restaurant waiting for a waiter to serve him wine.
• The pearl buyers hope to buy the pearl cheaply
• The villagers hope that Kino’s wealth will indirectly change their lives for the better.
3. Family Love and loyalty
• The strong bond between Kino, Juana and Coyotito is very clear. They are happy as a family.
• Juana supports Kino and the decisions he makes.
• Juan Tomas and Kino have a strong bond. When Kino is in trouble, Juan Tomas and his whole family are there to offer their help and support.
• Juana stands by Kino throughout the story especially when they try to make their way to the north.
4. Appearance versus reality
The pearl usually represents everything that is good and pure but in this story, it represents the worst of human greed. Kino believes selling the pearl will make his dreams come true. However, he finds that it becomes an evil thing as people try to steal it from him. He is forced to commit the worst evil of all, that is, killing other man. His son, Coyotito is also killed as a result. In the end, the pearl which seems to represent wealth is a source of evil. Kino also realizes that it is not as important as the real jewels – his happy family and his simple life
• Violence comes as a result of the various attempts to steal the pearl from Kino. It begins with a simple attempt in the brush hut and Kino hurting the attacker. It ends with Kino killing the three trackers. As man’s greed grows, so does the violence. Kino also attacks Juana , his loving wife, when she tries to get rid of the pearl.
• Juana is willing to throw the pearl into the sea in order to bring peace back to her home and keep her family safe.
• Kino offers to lead the trackers away so that Juana and Coyotito will be safe.
• Kino throws away the pearl and his dreams in the end, in order to become once again the kind, simple man he was in the beginning.