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The Pearl

John Steinbeck

Chapter 4

Chapter 3

Chapter 4, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary

Word spreads throughout the town of La Paz that Kino will be selling his great pearl. The pearl buyers are especially excited, and the pearl fishers abandon their work for the day to witness the transaction. Over breakfast that morning, the brush-house neighborhood teems with speculation and opinion. Kino, Juana, and Coyotito wear their best clothes for the occasion, and Kino dons his hat with care, anxious to appear a serious, vigorous man of the world.

As Kino and Juana set out from their brush house, the neighbors fall in line behind them. Juan Tomás walks at the front with Kino and expresses his concern that Kino may be cheated, as Kino has no standard of true comparison to know what his pearl is worth. Kino acknowledges this problem but adds that they have no way of solving it. Juan Tomás tells Kino that another system of pearl-selling used to exist before Kino was born. Pearlers would give their pearls to agents for sale in the capital, but as a result of the rampant corruption of pearl agents who stole the pearls meant for sale, the old system is no longer in place. Kino points out that according to the church, such a system must fail, as it represents a vain effort on the part of the pearlers to exceed their station in life.

Kino and Juan Tomás walk on in silence into the city, drawing stares from assembled onlookers. As Kino, Juan Tomás, and the attending crowd approach, the pearl dealers scramble to put their offices in order, hiding their little pearls and preparing to make offers. The first dealer is a short, slick man who nervously rolls a coin back and forth in his hand. He explains after a careful examination that the pearl is worthless because of its abnormally large size. Declaring it more of a museum curiosity than a market commodity, the dealer makes an offhand bid of one thousand pesos.

Kino reacts angrily to this lowball offer and insists that the pearl is worth fifty times that much. The dealer firmly asserts that his is an accurate appraisal and invites Kino to seek out a second opinion. Kino’s neighbors stir uneasily, wondering how Kino can reject such a large sum of money and wondering whether he is being foolish and headstrong by demanding more. Presently, three new dealers arrive to examine the pearl, and the initial dealer invites them to make independent appraisals.

The first two dealers reject the pearl as a mere oddity, and the third dealer makes a feeble offer of five hundred pesos. Upon hearing this news, Kino quickly removes the pearl from consideration. As he does so, the initial dealer, unfazed by the lower bid, insists that his offer of one thousand pesos still stands. Protesting that he has been cheated, Kino announces a plan to sell his pearl in the capital city. His outburst raises the bid to fifteen hundred pesos, but Kino will have none of it. He fiercely pushes his way out of the crowd and starts the long walk home as Juana trails after him.

At supper, Kino’s neighbors debate the day’s events. Some suggest that the dealers’ appraisals were fair, while others think that Kino is the victim of a scam. Some think he should have settled for the final offer of fifteen hundred pesos; others praise Kino’s bravery for insisting on his own terms.

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I would like to know reference of author

by cubillos97, May 06, 2014

I need to cite sources I used to gather information, and I can't seem to find any identification of author.

2 Comments

4 out of 16 people found this helpful

I would like to know reference of author

by cubillos97, May 06, 2014

I need to cite sources I used to gather information, and I can't seem to find any identification of author.

0 Comments

1 out of 2 people found this helpful

Kino greedy?

by MaxwellLint, October 01, 2014

I fail to see how Kino is greedy. Kino's dreams of rifles and new clothes were for his family. He wanted a rifle and a harpoon so that he could obtain food for his family. He wanted new clothes so that his family would be accepted by society. Most of all, he wanted Coyotito to get an education so that Kino and his people would learn the truth- how they've been lied to by the colonists. If Coyotito got an education, he would be able to see how wrong everything was, and through him, Kino.

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8 out of 12 people found this helpful

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