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Kino's village is compared to a "colonial animal," with a physical body, emotions, and a nervous system that communicates news in a rapid, invisible way. By the time Kino and Juana return to their house, everyone knows that he has found the Pearl of the World. Suddenly, people become interested in Kino. When the priest hears the news, he thinks of certain repairs needed by the church. The doctor, fantasizing about his younger, happier days in Paris, announces that Kino is his client and that he is treating Coyotito for the scorpion sting.
NOTE: THEME OF WHOLENESS
With the comparison of the village to a colonial animal, Steinbeck presents his idea that each person is part of a larger whole. No event happens to an individual in isolation. The procession of villagers to the doctor's house prepared you for this idea. And it is reinforced by the closeness felt by Mexican Indians to their village. There is a feeling of belonging, perhaps because of village unity and the hierarchy of power. Rarely do people leave their village.
The unscrupulous pearl buyers are delighted by the news. Though they pretend to be independent buyers with private little offices, they all work for the same man. They are the "arms" of his organization, and nothing gives them more pleasure than buying pearls at ridiculously low prices.
A "curiously dark residue" is created when the people think about Kino's pearl. It taps into their dreams, plans, hopes, fantasies, and desires. And the only person preventing them from fulfilling their dreams is Kino. Because of this, he becomes every man's enemy, though he doesn't know it. His discovery has provoked something thoroughly evil in the town, a "black distillate" as poisonous as the scorpion. This comparison of the pearl's effect with the scorpion's poison is one of the major biological comparisons in The Pearl. (Another is the description of the village as a colonial animal.) The pearl, once a source of promise and beauty, has now become an evil omen.
NOTE: GREED AND ENVY
The pearl causes a sinister change in town. Kino has become a "have" in a world of "have-nots." As a result, he is an outsider, an enemy. The pearl has planted the seeds of many dreams in the minds of many people who have been deprived of too much for too long. Their greed and envy create a threat to Kino. In his excitement, Kino is blinded to events around him. But his brother, Juan Tomas, sees the threat and will warn Kino about it.
Later, Kino sits with his family and friends, admiring the pearl. Juan Tomas asks what he will do now that he has become rich. Kino peers into the pearl for an answer, as if looking into a crystal ball. He has a vision of a proper church wedding, where he and Juana will be dressed in fine clothes. And he will purchase a harpoon and a rifle.
Kino wants status and recognition, and it is the rifle that seems to symbolically break down the social order that keeps the Indians under the domination of the Spaniards. While it is acceptable for Kino to imagine having a wedding, fine clothes, and other niceties, a rifle would ordinarily be an impossible purchase for poor Indians. The mere thought of Kino's owning a rifle tells you that he has crossed the line that separates his original simple life from the passion for wealth that will devour him. The rifle symbolizes Kino's intention to cease being exploited by people of Spanish descent. In the hands of an Indian, a gun could change the power structure. So could the next part of Kino's dream-an education for his son-since knowledge will eventually free the Indians from the bonds of ignorance. On an even higher symbolic level, the rifle might be thought of as the final blow of truth that allows innocence and goodness to triumph over evil. This passage about Kino's visions reminds you that The Pearl is an allegory in which concrete objects often stand for ideas.
At dusk, the villagers whisper that the priest is coming. Like the doctor, the priest lives in town and rarely visits these "children." Without knowing why, Kino hears the Song of Evil, but faintly, when the priest enters. The Father says Kino is named for a great man of the Church (Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit missionary in present-day Mexico and Arizona from the 1680s to his death in 1711) and that it is in the books. Kino isn't sure of this and hopes that someday his son will know what is in the books. The priest wants to make certain that the Church gets its share from the sale of the pearl. Do you think Steinbeck is implying that the Church contributes to the exploitation of the Indians?
NOTE: KINO, THE PRIEST, AND RELIGION
The priest's visit is preceded by the suggestion that Kino might be punished for trying to change things. How are God, the priest, the future, and Kino's plans related? Kino believes that his future is vulnerable to attack because he has spoken openly of his plans. In fact, Kino feels threatened by this representative of religion. Although the priest appears to be concerned that Kino do the "right" thing, his major interest is the pearl. His stilted biblical language ("thou" and "thee") rings false. And he has not married Kino in the church or baptized Coyotito because Kino has never had the money to pay for these services. Do you think the priest's actions are motivated by self-interest? Remember that in the original story Kino wants to use the pearl's wealth primarily to guarantee his salvation by purchasing in advance the masses necessary to release his soul from Purgatory. Doesn't such a practice as buying one's salvation also suggest the corruption of the Church?