How does the author give Kino and Juana animal characteristics?i.e. In The Pearl by John Steinbeck, what are some examples of their acting as animals?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Interestingly, in John Steinbeck's allegorical parable, The Pearl, when Kino discovers the Pearl of the World inside the oyster shells that he brings up from the sea, he

put back his head and howled.  His eyes rolled up and he screamed and his body was rigid.

With the discovery of the pearl, Kino becomes fearful because he hears the "melody of evil" among the people who look at this pearl.  His eyes "probed for danger" as he looks around furtively, like a prey animal.  In Chapter III, Kino buries the pearl in the dirt floor and covers it up with dirt, much as an animal buries its treasure.  When a thief enters his dwelling, Kino hears "the inaudible purr of controlled breathing."  Holding his breath, Kino hears the scratching of fingers in dirt. 

And now a wild fear surged in Kino's breast, and on the fear came rage, as it alwas did.  Kino's hand crept into his breast where his knife hung on a string, and then he sprang like an angry cat, leaped striking and spitting for the dark thing....

After Kino tries to sell the pearl and the dealer tells him it is a mere curiosity, Kino leaves and later decides to go to the capital.  Beforehand, he sits on his mat and smells the "sharp odor of exposed kelp from the receding tide." When he does not ask for his supper, Juana "wills to stops him," but Kino steps outside.

Juana heard the little rush, the grunting struggle, the blow.  She froze with terror for a moment, and then her lips drew back from her teeth like a cat's lips.

Back inside she asks Kino who has attacked him; Kino does not know.  She tells him that the pearl is evil, and they should destroy it. Ironically, Kino replies, "I am a man," and he tells his wife he will fight to keep the pearl.  The next day, Kino moves sluggishly, "arms and legs stirred like those of a crushed bug," rather than any man.  After he kills a man, Kino's boat, the boat of his grandfather, is destroyed.  He is enraged at this destruction,

He was an animal now, for hiding, for attacking, and he lived only to preserve himself and his family.

Kino's brother Juan Tomas comes and Kino and Juana are "crouched in a corner." his brother tells Kino to flee.  Despite their efforts Kino and Juana are followed by three trackers.  So, while two sleep Kino sneaks to where they are as Juana "peered like an owl" from the hole in the mountain where she hides with the baby.  Kino "edged like a slow lizard" down the rock to where the men are as the "Song of the Family" becomes "as fierce and sharp and feline as the snarl of femal puma."  Kinot springs onto the man with the rifle, but the gun fires while he attacks. It is a tragic shot, for it kills Coyotito.

In his essay "The Pearl: Realism and Allegory," Harry Morris writes that Kino is associated with the low animals who must root in the earth for sustenance.  Furthermore, in the allegorical aspect of the novella, the predatory animal comparisons suggest the "snares that beset the journeying soul" in this tale dominance of the rich and powerful and the driving force of greed. 

 

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