The Pearl

Is Kino aware of how the pearl buyers work? How do you know?

Is Kino aware of how the pearl buyers work? How do you know?

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Before leaving to sell the pearl, Juan Tomas warns Kino and Juana to get the best price for the pearl, and tells him how their ancestors got an agent to sell their pearls, but this agent ran off with the pearls. Kino had heard the story told as a warning of punishment against those who try to leave their station.

When the pearl dealer inspects the pearl, he tells him that his pearl is like fool's gold, for it is too large and valuable only as a curiosity. Kino cries out that it is the Pearl of the World, and no one has ever seen such a pearl. The dealer offers a thousand pesos, to which Kino says that it is worth fifty thousand and the dealer wants to cheat him. The dealer tells Kino to ask the others around him. Kino can feel the evil around him as other dealers inspect the pearl. One dealer refuses the pearl altogether, while a second dealer offers five hundred pesos. Kino tells them that he will go to the capital. The dealer offers fifteen hundred pesos, but Kino leaves with the pearl.


The pearl dealer, who symbolizes the ruling elite classes, proves to be another example of a manipulative professional man akin to the priest and the doctor. He shamelessly attempts to cheat Kino out of his money, offering a price that seems far too low for such a pearl; although there remains the possibility that the pearl may be an oddity with little practical value, the numerous attempts to steal the pearl, perhaps instigated by the pearl dealers, suggest otherwise. Kino's refusal is no small feat; as Juan Tomas declares, he has defied the structure of life around him. This places the parable in a larger political context, suggesting that a hierarchy around Kino works to exploit him and others of his station and resists any attempts to shift this social order. This idea is bolstered by the story concerning the pearl agent in which punishment is inflicted upon those who attempt to secure a better station for themselves.