The Pearl Questions and Answers
by John Steinbeck

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What is The Song of Evil and when does it first appear?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the beginning of the novella, Kino and his wife are enjoying a typical tranquil morning when suddenly a poisonous scorpion moves slowly down the rope attached to the hanging box, which holds their infant son Coyotito. Immediately, Kino hears the ancient Song of Evil, which is the music of an enemy to Kino's family, warning him of the dangerous scorpion. Unfortunately, Kino is unable to save his son from the scorpion and it ends up stinging Coyotito. After Juana attempts to suck the scorpion's poison out of Coyotito, the family ends up traveling to the town, where they are rebuffed by the prejudiced white European doctor.

As the story progresses, Kino continues to hear the Song of Evil when his enemies approach his hut to steal the pearl. The Song of Evil also becomes associated with the pearl, which leads to the destruction of Kino's family and simple life.

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S.L. Watson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I believe you are referring to The Song of Evil in The Pearl by Steinbeck.

Kino hears songs in his head that are his moral compass and warn him about events to come. The Song of the Family is a good song; it reflects Kino's happy life with his family. However, the Song of Evil is a warning song about the possibility of the destruction of the family:"In his mind a new song had come, the Song of Evil, the music of the enemy, of any foe of the family, a savage, secret, dangerous melody, and underneath, the Song of the Family cried plaintively (Chapter 1, paragraph 14). Unfortunately, the Song of Evil portends the destruction of his family.

The townspeople turn against Kino as greed takes over, and everyone wants the valuable pearl. Kino hears the Song of Evil, and it becomes a metaphor, a comparison, to the scorpion that stings Coyotito. The Song of Evil is the symbol of the family's destruction and the pain that follows the bite of the scorpion.

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