What is the importance of family values in The Pearl?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The opening of The Pearl describes Kino and his family waking up and starting their day. He describes the sounds of this peaceful time as the "song of the family." Juana's actual singing was also a part of the family song. Together, all these sounds melded together. "Sometimes it rose to an aching chord that caught the throat, saying this is safety, this is warmth, this is the Whole." This small, humble world of their family, in its intimacy and simplicity, is safe from the evils of the world. This opening setting and familial description establishes the idea that to go beyond these perfectly sufficient conditions is to invite trouble. The contrast is with the "song of evil" which Kino equates with any foe of the family. The song of evil is compared to the music of the pearl which brought nothing but greed, envy and enemies. 

Kino's and Juana's family values are nurturing and loving because they are based on mutual respect and love for each other. With the pearl, relationships between them and other townspeople become conflicted because the nature of those relationships is based upon envy and greed. Life's meaning, at least for those new enemies of Kino, has become the pearl (wealth). Life's meaning for Kino's family is human relationships, although at one time, even Kino supposes what new things the pearl might bring. 

However, those who live in Kino's area are initially and finally (when they suppose Kino's family has died) concerned for their well being. The fact that Kino refuses to steal someone's boat, even to escape, indicates a mutual respect between those of the village. The intimate relationships (prior to the greed brought on by the pearl) of their village are similar to the relationships between Kino and his family and both are certainly contrasted to the relationship between the village and the town where the doctor works. This is a class distinction since the town represents wealth, but it symbolizes the contrast between relationships (this one being between classes) based on wealth (doctor/Kino) and relationships based on love (Kino/Juana/Coyotito).