Kino's songs reveal his feelings: When Steinbeck writes that as he hears Juana's song it says, "this is the whole," what do you think the word whole signifies?John Steinbeck's The Pearl

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 1 of The Pearl by John Steinbeck, Kino contentedly watches his wife who makes the corncakes on the heating plate over the fire and tends to the hammocked baby; then he listens as Juana sings softly an ancient song that is part of the Song of the Family:

Sometimes it rose to an aching chord that caught the throat saying this is safety, this is warmth, this is the Whole.

The Song of the Family, the diametric opposite of the Song of Evil,  is the song of the love and unity of Kino, Juana, and Coyotito--the whole of their lives.  For, the Song of Evil appears when Coyotito's life is threatened.

Whenever Kino has a premonition or a strong feeling, he hears songs in his mind.  For example, when the scorpion threatens Coyotito, King hears the Song of Evil.  These songs are almost an instinctual reaction that has evolved in the Indian culture. The ancient songs that "remain" with "no new songs added" are what Kino hears in his head when there is danger--the Song of the Enemy or the Song of Evil--rather than any conscious reasoning.  Thus, the various songs represent emotions and intuitive feelings.