The protagonist of the novella. Kino is a dignified, hardworking, impoverished native who works as a pearl diver. He is a simple man who lives in a brush house with his wife, Juana, and their infant son, Coyotito, both of whom he loves very much. After Kino finds a great pearl, he becomes increasingly ambitious and desperate in his mission to break free of the oppression of his colonial society. Ultimately, Kino’s material ambition drives him to a state of animalistic violence, and his life is reduced to a basic fight for survival.
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Kino’s young wife. After her prayers for good fortune in the form of a giant pearl are answered, Juana slowly becomes convinced that the pearl is in fact an agent of evil. Juana possesses a simple faith in divine powers, but she also thinks for herself. Unfortunately for her and her child, Coyotito, she subjects her desires to those of her dominant husband and allows Kino to hold on to the pearl.
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Kino and Juana’s only son, who is stung by a scorpion while resting in a hammock one morning. Because Coyotito is an infant, he is helpless to improve his situation and thus at the mercy of those who provide for him. Kino and Juana’s efforts to save him by finding a big pearl with which they can pay a doctor prove to do more harm than good.
Kino’s older brother. Deeply loyal to his family, Juan Tomás supports Kino in all of his endeavors but warns him of the dangers involved in possessing such a valuable pearl. He is sympathetic to Kino and Juana, however, putting them up when they need to hide and telling no one of their whereabouts.
Juan Tomás’s wife and the mother of four children. Like her husband, Apolonia is sympathetic to Kino and Juana’s plight, and she agrees to give them shelter in their time of need.
A small-time colonial who dreams of returning to a bourgeois European lifestyle. The doctor initially refuses to treat Coyotito but changes his mind after learning that Kino has found a great pearl. He represents the arrogance, condescension, and greed at the heart of colonial society.
The local village priest ostensibly represents moral virtue and goodness, but he is just as interested in exploiting Kino’s wealth as everyone else, hoping that he can find a way to persuade Kino to give him some of the money he will make from the pearl.
The extremely well-organized and corrupt pearl dealers in La Paz systematically cheat and exploit the Indian pearl divers who sell them their goods. They desperately long to cheat Kino out of his pearl.
The group of violent and corrupt men that follows Kino and Juana when they leave the village, hoping to waylay Kino and steal his pearl.