Coyotito's scream is mistaken by the trackers as the cry of a coyote. One of them fires his rifle, and the bullet kills the innocent baby, whose name ironically resembles that of the animal that they thought he was.
Written as a parable, John Steinbeck's The Pearl alludes "The Parable of the Pearl," also known as "The Pearl of Great Price," found in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament of the Bible. In this parable, the instructive lesson is one in which the kingdom of heaven is depicted as a pearl of great value for which a merchant sells all that he owns in order to obtain it.
In Steinbeck's parable, the lesson carries a meaning closer to the hymn that was written about "The Pearl of Great Price":
Have you given up all for this Treasure?
Have you counted past gains as but loss?
Has your trust in yourself and your merits
Come to naught before Christ and His cross?
Indeed, Kino and Juana initially are content in their humble life together, and their sense of family is strong although they are poor. However, they sacrifice all for the "treasure" of the pearl to purchase a cure the baby.
Initially, when their baby is bitten by a scorpion, the doctor refuses to respond to Kino, who is but a peasant. So, Kino seeks a great pearl in order to pay for the services of this doctor, who decides to attend to the baby only when he learns of the great pearl. While he is with Kino's family, the doctor tricks Kino into revealing where the pearl is hidden, and at night, he has someone come to steal it. That night Kino draws "first blood."
This action is the beginning of Kino and Juana's troubles which end with their fleeing into the Sierra de la Giganta as they intend to go to Lorento to sell the pearl. Unfortunately, trackers soon discover their trail. Kino knows that he must kill these men before they kill him. So, he tries to sneak up on them. Just as he prepares to leap upon one of the men, his baby utters "a murmuring cry." The watcher listens, and then he stands, waking one of the men who is sleeping. This man asks, "What is it?"
"I don't know," said the watcher. "It sounded like a cry, almost like a human--like a baby."
The man who had been sleeping said, "You can't tell. Some coyote bitch with a litter. I've heard a coyote pup cry like a baby."
When the cry comes again, the one who has been watching says, "If it's a coyote, this will stop it," and he raises his gun. Kino leaps upon the man; however, the rifle goes off before he is able to strike his enemy. He kills the trackers, but not before his baby is shot.
With their little son now dead, the hopes for his future and their happiness are dashed. Kino and Juana's life together is now a tragedy. Truly they have "given up all for this Treasure," the pearl. And, all has come "to naught" as in the hymn.