Discussion Topic

Kino's profession and his decisions in The Pearl by John Steinbeck

Summary:

In The Pearl by John Steinbeck, Kino is a pearl diver. His decisions, driven by the discovery of an enormous pearl, revolve around his hopes for a better future for his family. However, these decisions lead to a series of tragic events, illustrating the themes of greed and the corrupting influence of wealth.

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If you were Kino in The Pearl, what would you do?

I cannot write this assignment for you, but I am happy to provide you with some ideas to help you get started.

Kino is faced with many difficult decisions and stressful situations in this text. Reflect on the choices he had to make and consider whether or not you think he made the right ones. If you feel he did, explain why you think it was right and why you would have done the same thing. If you think it was wrong, explain why you feel this way and what you would have done instead.

In this text, Kino finds a great pearl that is worth a lot of money. He intends to sell the pearl to pay for medical expenses for his son, and he also hopes to have a wedding ceremony and send his son to a good school. However, once people find out that he has the pearl, they will not leave him alone. One of the most critical decisions Kino has to make is whether or not he will sell the pearl to the local brokers or if he will go to Mexico City to sell it. This is a decision you should reflect on in your response. If he had sold the pearl at this moment, it may have spared the life of his son later on. However, at the time he felt that he would have received a better offer in Mexico City, and he didn't know what would happen to his son, so his reasons for not selling make sense. Put yourself in Kino’s shoes, as someone who does not know what will happen later on, and consider what you would have felt tempted to do.

Another critical decision you should reflect on is when Kino gets rid of the pearl at the end of the story. After his son is killed, Kino realizes how much bad luck the pearl has brought into his life. It makes sense why he wanted to get rid of it, but at the same time, he could have built a better life for himself if he had still found someone to sell it to. Consider what you would have done in this situation. For example, you may think that the pearl would always bring bad luck because of the greed it inspired in people. If so, you may write that you would have also thrown out the pearl. However, you might feel like after such a profound loss you would have wanted a life of comfort, and still sold the pearl to earn money.

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What was Kino's profession in The Pearl?

Kino was a "pearler," as were other men in his village.  Kino's canoe was the "one thing of value he owned in the world"; it his ownership of the small boat allowed him provide food for his family and to possess at least one item of property.  Because Kino is aware of the difficulty he would have providing for his family if he did not own a boat, he treats the water craft with great tenderness and respect.

After Coyotito is stung by the scorpion and the doctor refuses to treat him without payment, Kino and his wife, Juana, are desperate to find a pearl both so that they can sell in order to hire the doctor to heal Coyotito and so that they may receive the luck they feel such a discovery generates.  They paddle the canoe to the oyster bed, which is already filled with other pearlers.  Kino, whose "pride and youth and strength" enabled him to remain underwater for two minutes, retrieved an extraordinary oyster, which contained

...the great pearl, perfect as the moon.  It captured the light and refined it and gave it back as silver incandescense.  It was as large as a sea-gull's egg.  It was the greatest pearl in the world.

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What is Kino's occupation in The Pearl by John Steinbeck?

Like all of the other village men in The Pearl by John Steinbeck, Kino makes his meager living by diving for pearls. 

Kino has one prized possession: his canoe. It is the

one thing of value he owned in the world. It was very old. Kino's grandfather had brought it from Narayit, and he had given it to Kino's father, and so it had come to Kino. It was at once property and source of food, for a man with a boat can guarantee a woman that she will eat something, It is the bulwark against starvation.

With Juana and Coyotito in the canoe, Kino rows to a spot above the oyster beds, near all the other canoes from his village. Kino thinks about these oyster beds, the source of great riches for his country's kings over the years. Now it is a place for him to eke out a hard living for his little family.

He slips carefully into the water so he does not stir up the mud and cloud the water. knows that pearls are happy accidents, and it takes luck or a miracle to find one. He cuts the oysters from their homes and places them in his basket, staying below the surface until his lungs are on fire. This is

the Song of the Pearl That Might Be, for every shell thrown in the basket might contain a pearl. Chance was against it, but lick and the gods might be for it. And in the canoe above him Kino knew that Juana was making the magic of prayer.

Kino is young and can stay under for two minutes, and on this day (found in chapter two of the novella) he finds something extraordinary.

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