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In chapter 4 of The Pearl, while in the office how does Kino suddenly see the pearl?The...

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dianewagner | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 8, 2012 at 12:09 PM via web

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In chapter 4 of The Pearl, while in the office how does Kino suddenly see the pearl?

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 8, 2012 at 2:41 PM (Answer #1)

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After walking with great ceremony to the office of the pearl dealer, followed by a procession of other peasants, Kino steps into the dimly-lit office of the pearl dealer.  When Kino pulls out his pearl, the dealer "poked and insulted it" and then sadly tells Kino that the pearl has little value as it is so large that it can only be a curiosity.  However, Kino's instincts tell him that there is something sinister transpiring:

....He felt the creeping of fate, the circling of wolves, the hover of vultures.  He felt the evil coagulating about him, and he was helpless to protect himself.  He heard in his ears the evil music. And on the black velvet the great pearl glistened, so that the dealer could not keep his eyes from it.

Even when other dealers are summoned, they, too, disparage the pearl; in fact, one dealer says that the pearl is soft and chalky.  As he offers Kino the magnifying glass and demonstrates how to use it, Kino, who has no experience with looking at a pearl's surface so magnified, is "shocked at the strange-looking surface."  Nevertheless, he snatches back the pearl from the dealer's hand, thrusting it inside his shirt.  A dealer offers him fifty more pecos than the first price, but Kino cries, "I am cheated....My pearl is not for sale here. I will go; perhaps even to the capital."

Kino realizes that he is against the wealthy dealers, "the wolves" who refuse to acknowledge the pearl'sl beauty so that they may cheat him.   Still, when he looks at the "strange-looking surface of the pearl," Kino fears that the pearl may be flawed, not understanding at what he looks.  For, real pearls under magnification possess this scaly, maze-like surface.  Poor Kino's ignorance works against him, along with the "vultures" and "wolves" who would prey upon him, the pearl dealers.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 8, 2012 at 12:38 PM (Answer #2)

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The irony of the pearl is that while it is very valuable, it is only valuable if it is sold.  Kino realizes that the pearl is not worth as much as he thought.

Thus, in La Paz, it was known in the early morning through the whole town that Kino was going to sell his pearl that day. (ch 4)

Kino needs the money for the pearl to save his family.  He is not being greedy in trying to sell it for the best price.  However, he is being taken advantage of by the ruthless and unscrupulous pearl buyers.

Now there was only one pearl buyer with many hands, and the men who sat in their offices and waited for Kino knew what price they would offer, how high they would bid, and what method each one would use. (ch 4)

 Kino realizes that the pearl buyers are colluding to cheat him, telling him that his pearl is worthless.  The pearl is worthless, if no one will buy it.

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