The greatest of ironies in The Pearl is that of situational irony, the discrepancy between what is expected to happen and what actually happens. Here are examples of this irony of situation:
- When Kino finds the Pearl of the World, he hears "the music of the pearl" and expects his life to improve tremendously. "We will be married--in the church."
- Kino and Juana anticipate a great future for their son, who will become educated, but instead he dies.
"My son will read and open the books, and my son will write... and will make numbers, and these things will make us free because he will know...."
- Kino expects to be paid a great sum of money for the pearl, but the agent tells him it is a "mere curiosity."
- With what the pearl can buy them, Kino and Juana expect to be safe from harm; instead they are hunted.
Dramatic irony, an occurrence in which the reader perceives something that a character does not, exists in the conversation that Kino has with the agent. Here is how it works,
- Kino does not understand what the dealer's intentions really are when he tells Kino that the pearl is like fool's gold and is too large. However, the reader has seen that he prepares for Kino's visit in his physical appearance, and he has rolled a coin back and forward adroitly. And,
the buyer's eyes had become as steady and cruel and unwinking as a hawk's eyes, while the rest of his face smiled in greeting.