The Pearl: Vocab, Story, and Literary Analysis

Topics: Flashcards
Where does the story take place?
La Paz, Mexico

Who are the main characters?
A poor family that includes Kino, his wife Juana, and baby Coyotito.

What is the one thing that causes all of the problems in the story?
A scorpion stings Coyotito, leaving him in much pain and hurt. Therefore, they take him to the doctor, but he refused to help the baby because they had no money to pay him and they were not of the same race.

What can you infer about the doctor when he refused to help the baby?
That he is a very bitter, selfish man that only cares about money and does not have a kind heart.

What temporary remedy (vocab word) does Juana use to cover up the scorpion bite on Coyotito?
Seaweed Poultice

What causes Kino to go pearl diving?
Since he had no money to pay the doctor to heal the baby, he hoped to find pearls because they have great value and if he found one and sold it, he would have money to pay the doctor to treat Coyotito.

What does Kinos occupation as a pearl diver demonstrate?
The small chance that he and his family have for success. And it finally helped them when Kino found a pearl.

What does the pearl symbolize?
At first, the pearl is a beacon of hope for Kino & his family. But as the greed and desire start to change Kino, it is a threat to destroy Kino. When Kino really changes, it is described as evil.

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So, the pearl just mirrors the changes that Kino undergoes.

When news spreads around La Paz that Kino has found a pearl, how does the town react?
The doctor who refused to help Coyotito visited Kino with hopes that if he treated the baby, Kino would give him the pearl; Kinos neighbors/friends begin to feel bitter towards him for his good fortune; the priest visits them and reminds them to give thanks and to pray for guidance.

What new possibilities are Kino introduced to when his brother, Juan Tomas, asks him what he will do with the money when he sells the pearl?
Things he has never even dreamed of before. When Juan asked him this, his eyes opened up to all the possibilities. Not only would he have money to treat the baby, but there would be money for other things he desired such as marriage, nice clothes, education for Coyotito, and a rifle.

What promise does Kino keep to the doctor? What complication got in the way?
The doctor treated Coyotito after he gained knowledge that Kino had a pearl (this also shows how greedy and cold hearted he is). Kino promises to pay him with the money from selling the pearl that he would sell the next day. That night, someone breaks in and tries to steal the pearl, but Kino chases him/her away.

How does Kino having the pearl start to affect the town?
Everyone is bitter and jealous towards him. Plus, everyone wonders what they would do if they had found the pearl.

What problems occur when Kino goes to sell the pearl?
He thought that nobody was offering to buy his peal for a fair price. He believed that it was worth fifty thousand and he got mad when everyone told him that his pearl was not so grand and only worth a thousand pesos.

When Kino is attacked for a second time by more thieves, what does Juana suggest?
That the pearl is evil and will destroy them.

What does the scorpion symbolize?
The destruction of innocence, or evil.

a simple story that relays a moral lesson.

When can you tell that Kino has completely turned into a different person because of the desire of money?
When he saw that Juana was going to throw the pearl into the ocean, he felt so much rage and was so obsessed with the pearl that he punched Juana and kicked her in the side to stop her, his own wife. However he still got the pearl back.

Why did Juana tell Kino that they had to leave La Paz?
Because Kino had to kill a man that was trying to steal the pearl from him, and she knew that more people would attack him and break in to try to get the pearl, so she insists to go to the capital to sell it so all of the problems would go away.

What is an example of how the pearl also affected others in La Paz.
When someone had torn up and set Kino’s house on fire out of jealousy and rage.

Where do Kino, Juana, and the baby hide out before leaving town?
To Kinos brothers house, Juan Tomas and his wife Apolonia.

How does Kino react when Juan Tomas tells him that all of the trouble he is in is because of the pearl and says that he should give up on trying to sell it and just get rid of it?
He says that he cant give up the quote because, as he said: “If I give it up I shall lose my soul.”

As Kino and Juana travel north, Kino feels a sense of exhilaration along with fear. However, what gets in their way?
They realize that three trackers are looking for him to kill him and his family and get the pearl.

From a readers point of view, how does the pearls meaning change from the beginning of the story to the end?
At first, the pearl is a simple and beautiful object of nature to the reader. Once it becomes entangled with notions of material value however, it becomes destructive and dangerous. The pearl is an object of natural beauty and goodness that can draw out the evil in mankind.

When Kino goes Pearl diving with his Canoe that has been in his family for generations, what does the canoe symbolize?
His heritage, or cultural tradition. It is also significant that Kino’s possession of the pearl leads directly to the canoes destruction, and event that symbolizes Kino’s decision to break with his heritage because all he cared about was to pursue material gain.

How does Steinbeck use foreshadowing in this story?
When Juana mentioned many times before that the pearl is evil and will destroy them.

What is Kinos plan to get rid of the trackers hunting them?
To sneak up on them, then kill them.

What do the trackers hear in the distance?
Baby Coyotito cooing and crying, only they thought it was a coyote.

What happens when Kino attacks?
He kills two of the trackers. However, one of the trackers escaped up to a cave, where Juana and the baby were hiding, so Kino shoots him, only it didn’t hit the tracker, it shot Coyotito, causing him to die.

At the end of the story, when Steinbeck says that “The story of Kino and Juana was an event that happened to everyone”, what does he mean.
That it affected everyone in La Paz, for many different reasons, but it affected everyone.

In his writing, how does Steinbeck portray that Kino and Juana are like animals?
Because they are literally being hunted down by the trackers like animals, and Kino is able to kill the trackers like a savage. Steinbeck also shows the loss of human qualities when Kino crawls naked to sneak up on the trackers so that his white clothing didn’t expose him. Also when Coyotito dies of getting shot because he was mistaken for a coyote pup.

What is the name that Kino gives the pearl?
The pearl of the world

a particular goal or aim : something that a person hopes to do or achieve

a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed

a story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life or for a political or historical situation

Who wrote this story?
John Steinbeck (1902-1968)

What kind of stories does John Steinbeck write?

When was this book copyrighted?

a small group of people

Mexican drink that consists of the milky juice of the agave (a desert plant)

What is the irony shown when the beggars look down upon Kino and Juana?
The beggars, the people who have spent their lives trying to gain money, are actually the people who are the financial experts, the people who know how to use the money wisely.

How is the doctor characterized?
The doctor is mean, selfless, and greedy. All he cares about about is getting money, even though the people that need help are just like him.

poor enough to need help from others

What were the racial tensions between the doctor and Kino?
The racial tensions described in this part were that it shows how the Mexicans used to be slaves for the Europeans, which was the doctor. The Mexicans, like Kino, were treated like simple animals. It also shows how the doctor acts as if he was superior to the others.

humbly entreating

the wide part of a river where it nears the sea; fresh and salt water mix

lateen sail
a triangular fore-and-aft sail used especially in the Mediterranean

What does the “Song of the Pearl that Might Be” represent?
Represents hope. In this song, the songs represent something that the people value.

“This was the bed that hadraised the King of Spain to be a great power in Europe in pastyears, had helped to pay for his wars, and had decorated thechurches for his soul’s sake”
What does this mean?
Steinbeck is showing that there are no equal rights. The Spanish King showed that the poor had to work for the rich. The US is really powerful and others see it as abuse for power. (Military)

What does the “Song of the Undersea” represent?
This is the possibility that there is hope.

“It is notgood to want a thing too much. It sometimes drives the luck away.You must want it just enough, and you must be very tactful with God or the gods.” What does Juana mean by this? (this was right before Kino found the pearl)

How did Kino compare the pearl when he found it?
“as large as a seagull’s egg”

Steinbeck implies that every part of a complex structure relates to the whole. What happens in one part has an effect/impact on the other parts and the whole. The comparison of the town to an animal is significant. How is the town like an animal?
The town is like an animal because it lives like one. Every single town has its own feelings and behavior, which is similar an animal. The gossips and rumors flow around quickly like the blood inside of its system. No two towns are alike, just like any other animal.

Alms are money or food given to poor people.

How do the people in the pearl market act when Kino finds the pearl? How does their system work?
The people in the pearl market are anxious. There is only one person controlling the market, and he has people in different offices so that it looks like competition, when the money is going to one man.

People’s feelings and attitudes toward Kino are changing. How do you think his relationship with the townspeople and the other fishermen will be affected?
Because of Kino’s pearl, people are now showing jealousy or envy towards him. The men begin to think of the benefits the pearl could bring them, instead of feeling happy for Kino. Some people might begin to avoid him, or create fake friendships with him because of his pearl. This can also make people want to steal from Kino, making Kino unsafe around the people he sees every day.

“The news stirred up something infinitely black and evil in the town; theblack distillate was like the scorpion…” “The poison sacs of thetown began to manufacture venom, and the town swelled and puffed with the pressure of it.” What is the author comparing the scorpion to?
Envy, jealousy, and greed filled the town. The author is comparing the scorpion bite to the town.

What does Juana’s shawl represent?
The shawl represents Juana’s motherly love, care, shelter, and protection for her child, protecting him from evil.

Why is the pearl like a sin?
lt is like greed. She fears that greed will take over them and destroy them. I think that Juana is right, because greed can destroy your life and relationship with God.

a long narrow depression in a surface

“The loss of the pearl was a punishment visited on thosewho tried to leave their station. And the Father made it clear thateach man and woman is like a soldier sent by God to guard some part ofthe castle of the Universe.” What does this say about one’s station in life? How democratic is this?
This says that everyone is born into a status, meaning that if you are born rich, then you must stay that way, and if you are born poor, then it must stay that way too. This is not democratic, because there are no equal rights among the statuses. Kino was poor and about to become rich, which according to the Father, he was violating.

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The Pearl: Vocab, Story, and Literary Analysis. (2019, Jan 30). Retrieved from

The Pearl: Vocab, Story, and Literary Analysis
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