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
sleight of hand
Kino has stepped out of the regular pattern. The town usually works as a “colonial animal.” (pg. 21)
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)
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.
“The houses belched people.”
“The doorways spewed out children.”
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.
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)
The pearl buyer drops the coin he has been twirling.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In defying the pearl buyers, Kino has defied the traditional way of life. It is “new ground” that Kino is walking on. (pg. 54)
They will go by canoe over the sea to the capital.
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.
Kino is attacked by two men, and he drops the pearl.
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.
She says to Kino, “Here is your pearl,” which indicates that she does not want to be associated with it anymore. (pg. 61)
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.
He is a lowly Indian and has something valuable. Given this opportunity, the power structure will take it from him.
Their boat has been destroyed and their house burned down. Their last ties to the old life have been broken.
It is from the devil.
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.