The pearl
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The Pearl. Chapters 4-5. Vocabulary Chapters 4-5. Countenanced (4) – approved; supported; tolerated Stalwart (4) – sturdy; muscular Benign (4) – kind; good-hearted Collusion (4) – secret agreement for the purpose of tricking another or breaking the law; conspiracy

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The Pearl

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The Pearl

Chapters 4-5

Vocabulary Chapters 4-5

  • Countenanced (4) – approved; supported;


  • Stalwart (4) – sturdy; muscular

  • Benign (4) – kind; good-hearted

  • Collusion (4) – secret agreement for the purpose of tricking another or breaking the law; conspiracy

  • Legerdemain (4) – magical tricks;

    sleight of hand

Vocabulary Chps. 4-5 continued

  • Coagulating (4) – thickening and clotting

  • Lethargy (4) – listlessness; dullness or laziness

  • Searing (5) – burning and hardening

  • Edifice (5) – structure

  • Keening (5) – wailing (for the dead);


In the first paragraph how has the wholeness of the town been disrupted? What does the way the town usually operates refer to?

Kino has stepped out of the regular pattern. The town usually works as a “colonial animal.” (pg. 21)

Why is there no longer any real competition among the pearl buyers?

Since they all work for the same rich person, they all work together to underpay the fishermen for pearls. What makes the situation even worse for the fishermen is that Steinbeck writes that they “supposed that the pearl buyers were individuals acting alone,” another reference to the villagers’ ignorance of the ways of civilization. (pg. 42)

Why is this a big day for the entire village?

Kino is going to sell the pearl; “it was an historic moment,” and no pearl this great has ever been found before. (pg. 44) The neighbors talk of what charitable, non-selfish things they would do with the pearl; everyone wants Kino to stay uncorrupted by the pearl; they seem hopeful for Kino’s future. As in any “colonial animal,” what benefits the individual, helps the Whole.

Find an example of personification on page 45.

“The houses belched people.”

“The doorways spewed out children.”

In earlier times, how did the pearl divers try to get a better price for their pearls and what happened to their effort?

They pooled their pearls, and sent one man to the city to sell them. That man, however, disappeared. It is not revealed whether he stole the money or was killed for it. This occurred twice.

How does Steinbeck reinforce the evil of the pearl buyer?

The buyer is a study in cunning. He can joke, yet cry in the midst of the joke; he places a red flower in the case as a welcome, yet hides all his pearls so none of his will show off the pearl’s beauty; he practices sleight-of-hand; he calls Kino “my friend”; even his face is duplicitous: the eyes like a hawk, yet the rest of the face smiling. (pg. 47-48)

How does Steinbeck show us that the pearl buyer is impressed by the size and beauty of the pearl?

The pearl buyer drops the coin he has been twirling.

How do the buyers devalue the pearl?

They say it is of no real value because it is too large and clumsy; it is like Fool’s Gold and is just an oddity. Another notes the color and the surface irregularities of the pearl. While yet another speaks of it being chalky.

Find the irony on page 53.

One villager claims that if the buyers had prearranged their deals, then “all of us have been cheated all of our lives.” It is obvious that the natives have been duped many times in the past, but it is not obvious to them.

How is the village divided on Kino’s actions with the pearl buyer?

The fearful ones say that Kino should have taken the pearl buyer’s offer. Others say that Kino is brave and was right in what he does.

On page 53 Steinbeck says, “[Kino] had lost one world and had not gained another.” Explain what is meant.

Kino has lost his old, comfortable world as just one of the poor villagers, but he still has not gotten to his world of the future that the pearl represents to him.

Why does it take a great deal of courage for Kino to make the decision to go to the city?

Like the other Indians, Kino has always stayed close to his home. In fact, he has never been far away from it in his entire life. The unknown world frightens him simply because it is unknown. Even the nearby town is relatively foreign to him, so the capital must seem like a different planet.

Why is Kino’s brother afraid for him?

In defying the pearl buyers, Kino has defied the traditional way of life. It is “new ground” that Kino is walking on. (pg. 54)

What plan do they make for the next day?

They will go by canoe over the sea to the capital.

Chapter 5

What does Juana try and do with the pearl? Why? What does Kino do?

Because she thinks it is evil, she tries to throw it back in the ocean. Kino, enraged that she would try to do this, punches and kicks her.

What happens on the beach? What happens to the pearl?

Kino is attacked by two men, and he drops the pearl.

After finding the pearl on the sand, Juana has a second opportunity to throw away the pearl. Why does Juana not get rid of it?

With one dead man, Juana realizes that the old life is definitely over and that they can only more toward the new one now. They cannot stay in the village.

What has changed about the way Juana refers to the pearl?

She says to Kino, “Here is your pearl,” which indicates that she does not want to be associated with it anymore. (pg. 61)

What has changed about Juana’s and Kino’s relationship?

Juana cares for Kino as if he were “a sick child.” (pg. 61) Juana has for a moment assumed a superior role in the marriage. She advises Kino against defending himself in court for murder and in favor of leaving at once. This is quite a step for her, since Kino had beaten her two pages before.

Why will it not matter that Kino has killed the man in self-defense?

He is a lowly Indian and has something valuable. Given this opportunity, the power structure will take it from him.

As Kino and Juana head for home, what two discoveries do they make? What does this signify?

Their boat has been destroyed and their house burned down. Their last ties to the old life have been broken.

What is Juan Thomas’ opinion of the pearl at this point?

It is from the devil.

What is Kino’s comment on the pearl on page 67? In what sense might the statement be true?

He says, “The pearl has become my soul.” In one sense, his obsession with the pearl is materialistic and has replaced his spiritual values. In another sense, though, the pearl has become fused with his manhood and dignity. He obviously feels that if he relinquishes the pearl at this point, he will be giving these up.

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