What does Kino's final act reveal about his values?The Pearl by John Steinbeck

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In his essay "The Pearl: Realism and Allegory," Harry Morris discusses how Kino, an Everyman, represents the Indian who comes from an intellectual, political, theological, and sociological darkness as he begins to question the institutions that have kept him primitive: medicine, the church, the pearl industry, the government. 

When Kino says, "If I give it [the pearl] up I shall lose my soul," he is still in the darkness of the sins that motivate the pearl buyers and the doctor.  But, when he throws the pearl away, he demonstrates that he has learned about good and evil, thus attaining a new spiritual strength.  Kino becomes free when he casts away the pearl that no longer has significance because his son, for whom he would buy an education, has died.  With the end of the pearl, Kino demonstrates his willingness to accept the death of his child; furthermore, he proves that he cannot be cheated or destroyed.  Thus, the act of throwing away the pearl is an act of spiritual awakening, a salvation of the soul for Kino.

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