The Pearl

How do Juana and Kino react to Coyotito becoming sick?

How do Juana and Kino react to C oyotito becoming sick?

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Juana and Kino's reactions are cool and collected. They do not panic. Kino grabs the scorpion and kills it as Coyotito screams in pain. Juana begins to suck the puncture to remove the poison.

Juana orders family and friends to find a doctor. The doctor never comes to their cluster of brush houses, so Juana decides to go to the doctor herself. The event becomes a neighborhood affair, for Juan Tomas and Apolonia accompany them and even the beggars in front of the church follow Juana as she marches toward the doctor. Kino feels weak as he approaches the doctor's home, for the doctor is not of his race and thus believes that Kino's people are simple animals.

Kino tells the doctor's servant that his child was poisoned by a scorpion. The doctor is a fat man who longs for civilized living. Although the doctor is at home, he refuses to treat Coyotito unless he knows that he has money. The servant asks if Kino has money, and when he can only offer small seed pearls, the servant tells Kino that the doctor has gone out. Kino strikes the gate with his fist, splitting his knuckles.


Despite the serene description with which Steinbeck begins The Pearl, he also establishes that this existence is a precarious one; Coyotito's encounter with the scorpion illustrates this possibility of danger that the family faces at all times and brings into focus the magnitude of their poverty, showing that their poverty places a tangible price on their existence that Kino may not be able to pay. The scorpion is a symbol of the furtive dangers that threaten Kino and his family, able to strike furtively at any moment. It is therefore analogous to the other enemies that will threaten Kino and Juana: the scorpion secretly enters the house and strikes at them indirectly, instead of presenting a direct and open challenge to them.