Themes

Greed

Greed is the main evil force that the parable is meant to warn against. The doctor is greedy and only treats Coyotito after hearing of Kino’s pearl.

The pearl dealers are greedy and want to trick Kino into selling his pearl for less than it’s worth. The town’s people are Kino’s neighbors in daylight, but turn into Kino’s attackers and enemies at night as they try to take the pearl away from him.

Kino himself is greedy when he refuses to dispose of the pearl that brings him danger. It seems that the pearl and material wealth in general brings out the greed in the people who seek it.

Dreams and Ambition

Ambition is a characteristic that is innate in human nature. However, in the novel ambition is a sin punishable by a higher power and is a reason behind Kino’s downfall.  Kino desires to rise into superiority by giving his child a good education and having new clothes for him and his wife, all of those are innocent dreams of a poor man in a rich man’s world.

Kino’s dreams are simply dreams and could not come true because they would upset the social hierarchy. Moreover, one should not aim above or below their inherent position in society.

Family

Kino lives in harmony with his family up until Coyotito is poisoned. It is clear that Kino would go to great lengths to cure Coyotito and when the opportunity arises he desires a better life for him and his family. However the pearl drives Kino crazy with greed and as a result he loses his blissful relationship with his wife and ultimately loses his son.

That being said, the novel ends as Juana and Kino walk side by side as equal partners. It seems that family is somewhat restored when the pearl is no longer in Kino’s possession.

Money versus Happiness

From the start of the novel it appears that Kino lives in a natural and peaceful environment in harmony with his wife and child. They have a roof over their heads and they have Kino’s ancestral canoe and most of all they have each other. Kino has the false belief that the newfound material wealth could grant them more happiness.

In the end the pearl costs Kino his harmonious life, his house, his canoe and his family. The moral of the story is that money cannot buy happiness.

Symbols

The pearl

The pearl is a symbol of wealth which is quite ambivalent in its nature throughout the novel. When Kino first finds the pearl, it is a symbol of hope and salvation. The pearl and what it holds of wealth represents a great potential for the family and so their ambitions grow big. But like wealth, the pearl represents all the evil in the world. It seems all the greed and evil surfaces in the presence of wealth.

The Scorpion

The scorpion is a form of foreshadowing as well as a symbol of the evil that is yet to come into Kino’s life. The scorpion sneaks into the family’s home in attempts to take away their most valuable possession, their son. This is a foreshadowing of the many town’s people who are filled with poisonous envy and evil as they sneak into Kino’s home to steal the pearl and poison his life.

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