Discussion Topic

Kino's character development and transformation in The Pearl

Summary:

Kino's character in The Pearl transforms from a hopeful and loving family man to one consumed by greed and violence. Initially motivated by dreams of a better future for his family, Kino's discovery of the pearl leads to increasing paranoia and aggression. Ultimately, his obsession with the pearl causes him to lose his moral compass and brings tragedy to his family.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Kino's perspective change throughout The Pearl?

After Kino discovers the Pearl of the World, he fantasizes about creating a better life for his family. He pictures a beautiful wedding ceremony, new possessions, and an education for Coyotito. Kino essentially views the pearl as a vehicle to dramatically improve his family's situation and attaches all of his hopes, dreams, and aspirations to the pearl. As the story progresses, the pearl dealers in town are all unwilling to pay Kino for what the magnificent pearl is actually worth. He is then attacked several times by anonymous thieves and Juana recognizes that the pearl is evil. She even attempts to throw it back into the ocean but Kino assaults her before she is able to get rid of the pearl. Even after Kino kills a thief in self-defense and forces his family to flee their village, he refuses to abandon the pearl and has faith that it will make his wildest dreams come true. Tragically, Coyotito is shot and killed by a tracker in the wilderness before Kino finally recognizes that the pearl is evil. It is only after Coyotito's death that Kino realizes the destructive nature of the pearl and agrees with his wife that they must get rid of it. At the end of the story, Kino loses all hope, vitality, and peace as he throws the Pearl of the World back into the ocean. Kino transforms from being a hopeful, ambitious man to a dejected, traumatized individual.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Kino's perspective change throughout The Pearl?

In the beginning, Kino places great hope on the pearl, believing that it will change his future and that of his family. He believes that this will give him some freedom that he never knew he did not have. He was perfectly content before finding the pearl, but after his discovery he realizes that there are some things that will make his life (and those of his wife and child) much better. He begins to experience discontent. When he goes to the pearl merchants, he becomes cynical and skeptical, sure that they will try to cheat him (as indeed they do). He is not content with the price they offer. His discontent increases; the merchants in the city will give him a better price. He distrusts his wife, believing that she is trying to take the pearl away from him. More and more he doubts the honesty of those around him. All his trust is in the pearl, not in those around him, even those he loves. In the end, Kino loses his child and willingly gives up the pearl. It will not return his child to him, but he recognizes that it is the pearl that has brought such discontent into his life. His perspective has gone from contentedness and happiness to sorrow, doubt, and loss. He will not be able to regain all that he has lost; he hopes for merely a return to his simple life.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Pearl, how is Kino's life depicted before finding the pearl?

Before his discovery of the Pearl of the World, Kino's life is fairly simple. He is a peasant and a fisherman who lives with his wife Juana and his baby, Coyotito. He is content with his life; when his eyes open each morning, he sees his wife whose dark eyes "made little reflected stars." He hears the "splash of morning waves on the beach." Kino closes his eyes and hears the music of life, "the Song of the Family," as he watches his wife make tortillas and then take down the baby.

Juana sang softly an ancient song that had only three notes and yet endless variety of interval....Sometimes it rose to an aching chord that caught the throat saying this is safety, this warmth, this is the the Whole.

In short, although he is poor, Kino is fairly content with his life and his family. That is, until his baby is bitten by a scorpion. Then the world changes because Kino and his wife must go to the "fat lazy doctor" who would not want to bother with an indigent baby with a scorpion bite. When the servant, who is of the same race as Kino, tells the doctor who is calling and why, the doctor impatiently replies,

"Have I nothing better to do than cure insect bites for little Indians? I am a doctor, not a veterinary....Has he any money?"

When Kino shows his few grey pearls, the servant tells him "the doctor has gone out" and closes the door on him; Kino stays in the doorway for a long time, then he strikes the gate fiercely with his hand in his loathing of being poor.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the character of Kino change in The Pearl?

Like a lot of essentially decent people, Kino becomes corrupted by the prospect of riches. At first, he's presented as very simple, a loving family man who works hard for his loved ones. He's also someone who cares deeply about maintaining the old traditions that have been threatened and undermined by centuries of Spanish colonial rule.

Yet once Kino finds the valuable pearl, his whole life turns upside-down, and with it, his personality. As he realizes that the pearl will bring him nothing but trouble, Kino loses his innocence, becoming more cynical and less trusting of people. He also turns from a peace-loving man into a killer, albeit to protect his family from the men who want to cheat him out of the pearl. The discovery of his highly-prized, valuable object has seriously compromised Kino's integrity. And it's only by throwing the pearl back into the sea that Kino can once more reconnect with his former self.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does the character of Kino change in The Pearl?

In the novel, The Pearl, Kino is initially described as one who treasures his family more than anything, even money. He is patient, loving and appreciative of his young wife and son and he values them more than all else. In fact, he seems content to simply live in his very modest home with his wife and child. However, when he finds the enormous and beautiful pearl, he begins to change.

Kino’s plans for his family immediately change. He determines to marry Juana in a fancy church wedding, to buy new clothes for the entire family, to buy a rifle for hunting and protection, and to pay for Coyotito’s education. Moreover, he becomes obsessed with protecting the pearl until he can sell it and become wealthy. He becomes moved by his passions, even to the point of abusing Juana. He kills a man and ultimately loses his child and his opportunity for future happiness.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on