The Pearl - John Steinbeck

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The Pearl - John Steinbeck

Message par Admin le Lun 18 Jan 2010 - 10:59

Good fortune could awake evil and greed, and does not always bring happiness

Kino, a poor Indian fisherman, lives peacefully with his wife, Juana, and their baby, Coyotito, in a small village by the sea. Everything Kino saw was interpreted in a kind of music for him, as his people were once great song makers.

When Kino woke up in the mornings, he heard a clear & soft song, which he called “Song of the Family”. Juana also sang an ancient song that had only 3 notes and yet endless variety of intervals. It was also part of family song.

On such a morning, Kino saw a scorpion moving slowly towards Coyotito’s baby box. Kino heard the Song of Evil. Juana said an ancient magic prayer to guard against such evil. Suddenly Coyotito shook the rope of his box, the scorpion fell and stung him on the shoulder, before Kino was able to snatch it away. Coyotito screamed with pain, and Kino heard the Song of the Enemy roaring in his ears.

Juana found the puncture and tried to suck it out. Kino’s brother, Juan Tomàs, his fat wife Apolonia and their four children hurried in due to the screams. Other neighbours also crowded in. Juana wanted to see the doctor. The neighbours said the doctor would not come, since he would care for rich people only. Juana decided to go to the doctor. The procession made way to the town center. On the way people were informed about the accident, and how the parents were now looking for the doctor. Kino was afraid that the doctor would not see them, since he was of white race, who had beaten and despised the indigene for nearly 400 years.

At the gate, they were stopped by a servant, an indigene like Kino. He agreed to inform the doctor, but then he came back with a refusal when Kino said he only had small seed pearls to pay the doctor.

Juana tried to heal Coyotito with seaweed on the beach, and he calmed down. They went looking for pearls with Kino’s canoe, their most precious property Kino inherited from his grandfather and his father. Juana prayed that they might find a pearl with which to hire the doctor to cure Coyotito. Kino was filled with the Song of the Pearl That Might Be. Kino found a very big oyster shell, and in it, a pearl as large as a sea-gull’s egg. Meanwhile Juana found that Coyotito was cured by the seaweed poultice.

The news that Kino found the Pearl of the World has spread quickly all over the town. The Pearl buyer’s agents are waiting impatiently to get hold of it. Everybody wants to benefit from Kino’s luck, and curiously, Kino became their enemy, though Kino did not realize it, thinking that everybody shared his joy. What Kino wanted was to be married with Juana in the church, now that they were able to pay. He also wants new clothes, a new harpoon, a rifle, and send Coyotito to school. When the priest came to ask Kino to do something for the church, Kino started to hear evil song against the music of the pearl. Next the doctor came, trying to convince Kino that he could cure Coyotito for the scorpion sting, as even if Coyotito appeared healed, there could be a side effect later. Instead of giving him medicine, the doctor gave a capsule of poison. After the doctor left, Kino buried the pearl in the floor at the corner of the brush house. An hour later, the poison took effect and Coyotito was very sick. The doctor came again and pretended to treat him by giving the antidote. Then he asked Kino to pay the bill by giving him a pearl. Kino refused, and the doctor threatened him by saying that the pearl could be stolen if he kept in his house. At night a thief came, but Kino hurt him with a knife and he ran away. Frightened, Juana asked Kino to throw away the pearl, as it would destroy their peaceful life, but Kino refused, he wanted to send Coyotito to school.

The next morning Kino set out to La Paz to sell the pearl, followed by their neighbours. The pearl buyers, who were all agents working for the same person, tried to cheat Kino by offering him a very low price, 1’000 pesos. Realizing that he was being cheated, Kino decided to go to capital. Juan Tomàs supported Kino. They knew they were being cheated all their life, but now Kino did not only defy the pearl buyers, he defied the whole structure by going directly to the capital. During the night Kino was attacked and was hurt. Again Juana warned Kino to throw away the pearl, but he remained stubborn, saying that he was a man, who could handle it his way.

Kino found out at dawn that Juana tried to take the pearl away from him to throw it into the sea. He was so enraged he struck her in the face and kicked her in the side when he caught up with her on the shore. When he turned to go home, he was attacked again and hurt one assailant with his knife. The pearl, knocked from his hand, lay behind a stone in the pathway
Juana, who could understand Kino’s fury and did not blame him, came after Kino from the beach. She saw the pearl, and for one moment hesitated whether to throw it to the sea or not. Then she saw the dead figure of Kino’s assailant, she knew that their peaceful past had gone forever. Now she had to save themselves. She hid the corpse and urge Kino to leave immediately before daylight.

Kino found that his canoe had been destroyed. He was enraged, as the boat was a heritage from his grandfather. As he hurried back to his house, he saw that it was on fire. Juana had managed to get out with Coyotito. The men searched the house for the pearl, and not finding anything, set fire on it. They went to Kino’s brother’s house to seek help. Juan Tomas agreed to let them hide in his house for 1 night, while the neighbours looked for their corpses through the ashes. Juan Tomàs diverted the neighbour’s suspicions by saying that Kino had gone to sea to escape from the evil and drowned. He also borrowed food and things needed by Kino for his escape. Kino told Juan Tomas he wanted to go north, where there are cities. And he intended to keep the pearl with him, as it now became his misfortune and his soul.
They kept away from people and tried to leave no trace. At noon they found a hiding and Kino slept uneasily. Suddenly he woke up, nervous. He felt the danger coming close. He found 3 trackers, looking for them. Two on foot and one on horseback, with a rifle. Kino went back to discuss with Juana and they ran for the mountains. They knew that if they were found, their lives would not be spared.

Kino asked Juana to hide while he led the trackers into the mountains. Juana should go north to Loreto or Santa Rosalia, and Kino would join them later. Juana refused resolutely. At last they found a cave for their hiding place. The trackers arrived close to them. Coyotito whimpered, and Juana covered his head with her shawl to muffle his sounds. At night, Kino decided to attack when the men were asleep, as this was his only chance. In the morning they would be discovered. He climbed silently near his enemies. One watcher heard a little cry, and thought it was a coyote pup. The watcher raised his gun and shot. Kino leapt at him at the same time and struck with his knife. Finally Kino killed the two men, and shot the third. Suddenly he realized something went very wrong. He heard the keening, moaning, rising hysterical cry from the cave, the cry of death. The gunshot hit Coyotito’s head and he was dead.

They returned back to their village La Paz, side by side. Kino had a rifle across his arm and Juana had her shawl like a sack over her shoulder. The shawl was crusted with dried blood. They walked straight to the beach. Kino took out the pearl and gave it to Juana. She looked at Kino in the eye and said, “No, you.” Kino flung the pearl with all his might to the sea. The pearl lay on the sand bottom among the fern-like plants. A crap scampered over and raised a cloud of sand, when it settled the pearl was gone. And the music of the pearl drifted to a whisper and disappeared.

_________________
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