What is the "Song of Evil" and what is happening the first time Kino hears it?

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parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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The Song of Evil is of course metaphorical:  it represents everything which threatens the safety, unity and well-being of Kino's family. The first time it is "heard" is when the scorpion crawls down the rope of the baby's suspended cradle and stings him on the hand. It comes back intermittantly throughout the story, representing the greed of the villagers and pearl buyers, the rising conflict between Kino and Juana, and the dangers facing the family as they flee their home. It crescendoes to the moment when Coyotito is killed by a stray bullet from the trackers which richochets off the stone cliff where they are hiding. The Song of Evil is only silenced when Kino throws the pearl back into the sea, where it can no longer entice and subvert the hearts of men.

The Song of Evil represents also an internal struggle as Kino must wrestle with the choice to either keep the pearl and trust his luck at selling in in La Paz or to get rid of it for the safety of his family. Here it is described as a heartbeat or throb rising within his breast, spreading over him much as the scorpion's venom which poisoned his son Coyotito. Steinbeck interweaves perceptive imagery (sight, sound, touch) in a very compelling way to portray the hypnotic power the pearl holds over the village and Kino's own soul.

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