Who is the narrator of The Pearl?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The book has a third person omniscient narrator, but often follows Kino’s perspective.

In many ways, Kino is the main character of the story.  It is Kino who finds the pearl, and Kino who is the head of the household.  Kino has a fiery temper and great ambition.  He loves his wife and son, but does not appreciate being manipulated or looked down on by townspeople like the doctor or the pearl sellers.

There are many times in the book when he see things from Kino’s perspective through the third person omniscient narrator.  This type of narrator is not a character in the story.  The narrator is all-seeing, that’s what omniscient means.  It can switch from one character to another. 

Here is a section of the book told from Kino’s perspective.

Juana's eyes were open too. Kino could never remember seeing them closed when he awakened. Her dark eyes made little reflected stars. She was looking at him as she was always looking at him when he awakened. (Ch. 1)

The beginning of the book opens with Kino’s point of view.  It is still third person, because Kino does not say “I” in the narration, but we are inside Kino’s head.  We experience his thoughts and feelings as he watches his young family in the morning and sees the scorpion attack.  Juana reacts quickly, getting rid of the poison, but Kino is so angry that all he can do is crush the bug to dust after it is already dead.

We can tell the book uses third person omniscient because narration switches often.  For example, when Kino goes to enlist the doctor’s help, we are inside the doctor's head.

The doctor had once for a short time been a part of the great world and his whole subsequent life was memory and longing for France. "That," he said, "was civilized living" - by which he meant that on a small income he had been able to enjoy some luxury and eat in restaurants. (Ch. 1)

The doctor thinks nothing of Kino and his problems.  He can’t pay, so he is worthless.  The doctor prefers to hide away in his fine house, living a luxurious life.  He is not interested in helping people who cannot afford to further his lifestyle.

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The Pearl

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