What impression does Kino make on the reader in the first chapter of The Pearl?
In the first chapter, readers are introduced to Kino as he faces a very serious situation—the poisoning of his son by a scorpion. Describe Kino’s behavior in this chapter and the initial impression he makes on readers based on this behavior.
The first chapter depicts Kino as somewhat useless in an emergency. He does not keep a cool head, and he feels and acts useless and pointless.
Kino is "a primitive character who will fail to benefit from the opportunity chance has afforded him to become enlightened" (enotes character analysis, Kino). At the beginning of the chapter, the mood is tranquil. It seems like Kino is happy, and that he and his wife are in love. Kino imagines songs which connect him with his ancestors.
They had spoken once, but there is not need for speech if it is only a habit anyway. Kino sighed with satisfaction - and that was conversation. (ch 1, p. 3)
This scene of domestic tranquility is interrupted when the stream of sunlight hits the rope on the baby’s box, and they see the scorpion. Juana mouths a charm, by Kino jumps into action.
Kino's hand leaped to catch it, but it fell past his fingers, fell on the baby's shoulder, landed and struck. Then, snarling, Kino had it, had it in his fingers, rubbing it to a paste in his hands. (ch , p. 3).
The once passive and peaceful Kino has turned malevolent. After the scorpion stings his baby, he does not just kill it but smashes it into dust, and as he hears the “Song of the Enemy” and “his teeth were bared and fury flared in his eyes” (p. 3). This shows that Kino can react to a threat, and can get extremely angry.
Kino feels helpless and “in the way” (p. 3) after the baby is stung. Juana sucks at the puncture. She tells him to get the doctor, but he says the doctor will not come.
Although Kino acts when the baby is stung, he does not really do anything useful. He acts out of anger instead of usefulness. It is Juana who actually sucks out the poison and asks for the doctor. Kino feels useless and acts useless. He returns without the doctor. He seems useless to the reader too.
Facing the doctor, Kino feels “weak and afraid and angry at the same time” (p. 5). He is respectful to the doctor but gets nowhere. "In his burning anger and frustration, Kino strikes the gate so forcefully that he cuts his hand" (enotes summary ch 1). After he is dismissed he crushes his hand on the gate, another futile gesture.
For more, read the summary here:
For a character analsysi:
Full text from which page numbers are taken:
Enotes. "The Pearl: Character Analysis: Kino." Enotes.com. Enotes.com. Web. 16 May 2012. <http://www.enotes.com/pearl/kino>.
Enotes. "The Pearl." Enotes.com. Enotes.com. Web. 16 May 2012. <http://www.enotes.com/pearl/chapter-1-summary>.
Steinbeck, John. "The Pearl - John Steinbeck." Scribd. Web. 16 May 2012. <http://www.scribd.com/doc/8703693/The-Pearl-John-Steinbeck>.