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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Pearl by John Steinbeck-Free Online Plot Summary
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1. A
2. C
3. C
4. B
5. A
6. B
7. C
8. C
9. A
10. B

11. The ruling class, descended from the Spanish, controlled the Indians by keeping them poor and ignorant. If Coyotito were sent to school to learn "what is in the books," he could challenge the authority of the system. He could also educate the other Indians and make them aware of ways they might fight their oppressors.

One scene that might be useful to review is the doctor's visit to Kino's hut in Chapter VI. There, you see firsthand how the doctor manipulates Kino through the Indian's ignorance. Kino wants to throw the doctor out, but he can't because he doesn't know if the doctor is lying about the effects of the scorpion sting. The doctor would not have been able to carry off the capsule scene with an educated person. It is this kind of control over the Indians that educating Coyotito would change, and it is too threatening for the Spanish upper class to allow.

Another scene you might want to review is the scene at the pearl buyers. Kino's people have been dealing with pearls for centuries and certainly know the look of a valuable pearl. Yet they allow the pearl buyers' tricks to make them doubt their own judgment. If Coyotito were educated, he would be in a position to fight such financial exploitation.

12. Juan Tomas is the voice of the Indians who have survived oppression, the voice of experience. He doesn't try to stop Kino from making the dream of the pearl come true, but he does try to warn Kino that he has overestimated the powers of friendship and underestimated the dangers against him.

One place to look for details is the trip to the pearl buyers in Chapter IV. On the way, Juan Tomas reviews the situation and warns Kino that he might be cheated. He also tries to put the event in the context of tradition. It is here that Juan Tomas reminds Kino of the priest's sermon about other men who have sought to bypass the pearl buyers. Later on, when Kino says he will go to the capital, Juan Tomas warns him that he will be leaving family and friends. Here you see the concept of mi tierra, the ancient attachment to the place of birth, spoken by Juan Tomas. He is the spokesman for traditional Indian ways.

13. The pearl functions as a symbol on many levels. In your answer, you may want to consider the pearl as a symbol of human greed, dreams of the future, and the human soul. The idea of human greed is first developed at the beginning of Chapter III with the description of the pearl's effect on the people of the town. In discussing dreams of the future, include the list of Kino's dreams or visions, as related in Chapter III. For Kino the pearl is the key to attaining these dreams. In terms of the human soul, before Kino leaves for the mountains, he tells Juan Tomas, "This pearl has become my soul." This may mean that the pearl and its visions have taken over Kino's true soul, driving him to go against hopeless forces and to sacrifice his own family. It may also mean that Kino's only hope for dignity (his own and his people's) lies in the pearl, and without it he is less than a man.

Whatever aspect of the pearl's meaning you discuss, you should account for the significance of Kino's throwing it back in the water at the end. Also, be sure to include in your answer the contrast between the pearl's great value, beauty, and promise and its ultimate role as a catalyst of envy, greed, and destruction.

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Free Barron's Booknotes-The Pearl by John Steinbeck-Free Online Plot Summary

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