What is Kino's job?

Kino is a pearl diver, and he searches the ocean for pearls that he can trade for money at the town market. Kino uses a small boat to traverse the reef. When he reaches an area he’d like to search, he jumps into the water holding a large rock, which pulls him easily down to the ocean floor, where he breaks open oysters to see if they contain pearls. Kino can hold his breath for up to two minutes, an impressive feat that allows him to break open more oysters than his competitors.

The life of a pearl diver is laborious and inconsistent. Not only must the divers work in dangerous conditions – free diving alone in the ocean – but their income is solely based on how many pearls they discover per day and how much their buyers are willing to pay. If Kino fails to find pearls, he will go without money that day. If the buyers at the market lowball him, he has no one else to turn to, and must take whatever he’s offered. Kino and his fellow pearl divers are exploited by the pearl buyers at the market not just because the buyers often undervalue the pearls but also because the buyers all secretly work for the same boss. There is no true competition among the buyers, as they are all covertly working together to cheat the divers and return the profits to the same master.

How does Kino view the pearl?

Because the pearl is larger than any the town of La Paz has ever seen, Kino will be able to sell it for a life-changing amount of money. He and his family will join a higher class and have access to resources that no one in his community can even imagine. His wife will have new and high-quality clothing and shoes. Kino will be able to buy tools and weapons that will benefit his business and increase his independence. Most importantly, Coyotito will be able to attend a high-tier educational institution, and through him, Kino, Juana, and the rest of the indigenous community might gain knowledge and insights that have previously been inaccessible to them.

In this sense, the pearl represents far more than just money and security. It represents the possibility of liberation from oppressive colonial rule. Unlike everyone else in his community, Coyotito will be literate. He’ll study the same literature, economics, politics, and mathematics that their white Western oppressors do, meaning that he’ll understand the world from that perspective and be able to see through the exploitative systems that have been set up to keep the indigenous population servile. In the crystal ball that is the pearl, Kino sees a future in which his entire community is free, all due to the education of a single child.

Why did Kino throw the pearl away?

Kino throws the pearl away because it is ultimately deceitful – the prophecy of wealth, education, and liberation that it sang to Kino has been replaced by a reality of violence, a fight for survival, and the death of those whom the pearl should have protected. Kino believes that the money he makes from the pearl will allow Coyotito to have a top tier education that will bring knowledge and even liberation to their indigenous community. Unfortunately, the systems of oppression in Mexico don’t even allow Kino to sell his pearl for a decent price, and he’s forced to make the difficult journey to the capital to find a fair buyer.

Despite the pearl bringing violence to his life in La Paz – Kino must physically fight those trying to steal the pearl and can no longer trust members of his own community – he holds tight to the hope of Coyotito’s education. To manifest the dream of freedom, Coyotito must go to school. Kino kills a man in self-defense, beats his wife when she tries to dispose of the pearl, and brings his family on a dangerous journey across the country, all in pursuit of the dream. Ultimately, Kino must kill another three men – trackers looking for the pearl – to protect himself and his family, but before he can finish the job, one of the men shoots and kills Coyotito. In his pursuit of the pearl’s seductive prophecy, Kino loses his humanity and succumbs to violence, and the child whose future Kino is fighting for is murdered. Now, Coyotito will not only never go to school, but he will never live at all. Kino and Juana throw the pearl far into the depths of the ocean so that the temptation it holds – money, education, freedom – can never curse another family the way that it has cursed theirs.

What do the pearl buyers have planned for Kino?

When Kino finds the pearl of the world, news travels fast throughout the town. The doctor and the priest hear of it almost immediately, despite not being part of the native population, and the pearl buyers also hear of it far before Kino has the chance to bring the pearl to the market. Normally, a market would hold many merchants who are all competing to buy goods, which they would sell later at a higher price for a profit. Because of the competition, sellers like the pearl divers have a bit of power – they can haggle with the buyers and force them to make higher bids in order to outdo their competition. This is not the case with the pearl buyers in La Paz. The pearl buyers all secretly work for the same boss, meaning that they are not in competition with each other. Unfortunately, the divers don’t know this, and this allows the buyers to cheat the divers.

When the buyers hear of Kino’s pearl, they all meet with their boss and decide on the highest price they’ll pay for the pearl. This price they agree upon is outrageously low, and undervalues the pearl extensively, but Kino will be forced to accept their offer because there are no other buyers. When Kino comes to the market, the buyers work together to try to convince Kino that the pearl is not very valuable because it’s too large, with a strange surface. Because the divers don’t realize that the buyers are working together, it shakes Kino’s confidence when each buyer separately confirms that the pearl is not valuable, because if they are all in agreement then there must be truth to their statements. However, Kino’s sharp instincts help him sense that he is being tricked, and he refuses to sell the pearl to any of the buyers.

Who is responsible for Coyotito's death?

One of the three trackers who follows Kino and his family is responsible for killing Coyotito. As the trackers catch up to Kino, Juana, and Coyotito, Kino realizes that the only way to escape them is for him to kill the trackers. When the family reaches a spring in the mountain they are crossing, they know that the fresh, clean water will attract the trackers as well. Kino tells Juana and Coyotito to hide in a cave where they won’t be spotted. He himself waits for the trackers to set up camp in the area. When night falls, two of the trackers sleep while the other, who carries a rifle, keeps watch. Kino sneaks toward the campsite, hoping to ambush the watchman, steal his rifle, and kill him and the other two trackers before they have time to react. But just as Kino is about to attack, Coyotito begins crying in the hidden caves, alerting the watchman and waking one of the other trackers. The tracker believes that the cries might be coming from a coyote. He pulls out a gun and says that he’ll shoot the coyotes to shut them up. Just as Kino rushes the three men, the tracker shoots in the direction of the “coyotes” before Kino can stop him. Although Kino does kill all three trackers, he is too late to save his son. The tracker’s original bullet has hit its mark. Coyotito was shot in the head and killed.