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After finding a magnificent pearl, Kino seeks to sell it to acquire wealth. He wishes for his son’s wound to heal, and for his son to obtain an education and become an equal to the European colonists who keep his people in a state of ignorance and poverty. When he tries to sell the pearl, however, Kino quickly meets resistance in the form of other people’s greed. Ultimately, his struggle to acquire wealth places him at odds with his family, his culture, and nature, as Kino himself succumbs to greed and violence.
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Kino's relationship with his wife becomes strained due to his refusal to get rid of the pearl........ she wants it gone; he becomes greedy. Their happiness as a family is as stake, and yet he can't get past the things he 'wants' as opposed to the family he loves. Juana is so against their possession of the pearl that she takes it during the night and attempts to throw it back into the sea; Kino beats the wife he loves for her willingness to sacrifice the value of the pearl in order to preserve the family she values.
Men in the community wish the pearl for themselves, and after Juana's beating attempt to waylay Kino.......... a man dies, and Juana fears that Kino will be accused of murder. His house is burned down, his canoe is destroyed, and the family is forced to find refuge with 'true' friends Juan Tomás and his wife, Apolonia.
Coyotito becomes ill early in the story, the priest comes, the doctor comes. The doctor isn't interested in doctoring without payment, but he becomes very interested with news of the pearl. Once the family is forced to flee their community, Coyotito doesn't stand a chance......... they hide in a cave and when detected, the son Kino wished to see have an education with the proceeds from the pearl is killed by the shot of a rifle.
In the end, they walk back to the ocean bearing their dead son......... they throw the pearl into the sea........ all while the community they called their home stood and watched.