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Free Study Guide-The Pearl by John Steinbeck-Free Online BookNotes
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Chapter 3


The news that Kino has found the greatest pearl in the world spreads quickly around the town. Everyone thinks greedily about the pearl and selfishly wonders how it can be of personal benefit. The news reaches the priest, who immediately starts thinking about how the money could be spent on the repairs needed for his church. The news reaches the shopkeepers, who look at the men's clothes that have not been selling well and hope that Kino will come to buy some. The news then reaches the doctor, who realizes that the pearl's owner is the same person who has earlier come to him. He quickly amends his way and says, "He is a client of mine.

I am treating his child for a scorpion sting". Finally, the news reaches the pearl buyers, who start calculating how they can land the great pearl at a low price. The whole town is filled with an evil envy over Kino and his pearl.

Kino and Juana, of course, are oblivious to all of these reactions in the civilized world. They are simply happy to be alone and bask in the thought of their newfound treasure. But friends and family surround the couple. When Kino is asked what they plan to do with the money (assuming he will sell the pearl for a large sum), his first priority is legally marrying Juana in the church. This privilege has been denied him because of his poverty. He then dreams of new clothes, a fine harpoon, and even a rifle. Most importantly, he will provide for his son. Coyotito will have plenty to eat and nice clothes; he will also have an education and learn to read. Kino knows the written word will help his son break out of the primitive world into a "magical" civilized existence.

The priest arrives and Kino hears the "Song of Evil" in his head, suggesting that Kino understand the hypocrisy that is entering the hut. The priest reminds Kino to thank God for his treasure. He also mentions that Kino is named after a great man, and hints that Kino will also become great. He finally reminds Kino of his duty to the church, ironic words spoken by a man who has refused to marry Juana and Kino. The priest departs after offering a blessing and praising Kino for his intention of marrying Juana in the presence of God.

After the neighbors go back to their own houses, Juana starts preparing their dinner. Kino feels the warmth and security of his family and hears the "Song of the Family". He stands looking out of the doorway and realizes that there may be forces out there ready to destroy his happiness and that he must be ready to fight. Kino's world is now different. Having a thing of value to others has led him to be fearful for the first time.

As he is thinking, he sees two men approaching him, the doctor and his servant. The doctor now offers his help. Kino, filled with hatred, rebuffs his help, but the doctor uses his medical knowledge and Kino's lack of it to make him realize his ignorance, and so, Kino lets him in. The doctor examines the child and places a capsule in the baby's mouth. He leaves and promises to return in an hour. Juana and Kino wait for any reaction in Coyotito. Realizing that the pearl is still in his palm, Kino buries it in a hole in the corner of the hut. After a while the baby starts having stomach muscle spasms and becomes flushed. The doctor returns, treats Coyotito again, and behaves as if he has cured the baby. On hearing about the pearl, the doctor acts as if he is very concerned about its safety but covertly watches Kino's eyes which revert back to the place where it is concealed. When the doctor leaves, Kino is again assailed with doubts about the pearl's safety and changes its hiding place. He admits to his wife that he is now afraid of everyone.

That night, while he is sleeping, Kino hears the "Song of Evil" in his dreams. Then he hears rustling sounds in his hut. He leaps up with his knife to attack the intruder, stabs him, and is hit in the head himself. Juana wakes up and swabs the blood from his forehead. Juana now wants Kino to destroy the pearl, for it is causing problems, but Kino is adamant about keeping it. He is certain that he can buy an education for Coyotito with the Pearl; that knowledge, in turn, will buy them freedom.

The chapter ends with the roosters crowing and the waves breaking. Kino takes his pearl from its hiding place to admire it. Juana and he smile at its beauty and again feel hopeful.


In this chapter, Steinbeck describes the effect of the discovery of the pearl on the life of those around Kino. Each of the townsfolk react differently to the news of the pearl, and their innermost thoughts are revealed. Human nature, with all its selfish depths, is exposed. The reaction of the pearl buyers is the most selfish of all. The individual pearl buyers are shown as one unit, which has agents in separate offices to give a semblance of competition. When the news of the pearl reaches their office, each of them suddenly becomes the other's enemy, vying to outsmart the other to buy the pearl. Their earlier unanimity is broken due to the evils that seem inherent in the pearl.

Kino, at first, is unaware of the dark forces working against him and is busy planning his future. The music of the pearl and the music of the family seem to merge into one. But when the priest and the doctor are in his hut, Kino hears the music of evil; he is beginning to realize the negative effect that the pearl is having on others, who are jealous of Kino's treasure.

When the doctor arrives, Kino guesses the reason for his presence, and his rage intensifies. Although he doesn't trust the doctor, he has to give in to him for the sake of his son's health. Ironically, the doctor gives Coyotito a "medicine" that temporarily makes him sicker. Then the doctor returns an hour later, pretending to cure the illness and hoping to ingratiate himself to Kino. While the doctor is in his hut, Kino begins to realize the effect the pearl is having on other people. He understands the doctor's evil intentions on the pearl. As a result, Kino hides his treasure, fearing it will be stolen.

The malevolence of the pearl begins to be felt. Someone breaks into Kino's house during the night, obviously with the intent of stealing the pearl. Fortunately, Kino has changed the hiding place, and the pearl is safe. In her primitive, intuitive wisdom, Juana realizes that the pearl is bringing evil into their lives. She implores Kino to get rid of the pearl, saying, " It will destroy us all. Even our son." Juana's depth in character is more clearly seen now. It is she who can see into the future and the pearl's part in its destruction, but Kino is too absorbed in the beauty and strength of the pearl to forsake it so easily or so soon.

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