The Pearl

by: John Steinbeck

Coyotito

But Coyotito—he was the one—he wore a blue sailor suit from the United States and a little yachting cap such as Kino had seen once when a pleasure boat put into the estuary. All of these things Kino saw in the lucent pearl[.]

In imagining all the ways that the pearl will improve his family’s situation, none resonates for Kino as strongly as what the pearl can bring to Coyotito. With the money realized from the sale of the pearl, Coyotito would be able to get an education and transcend his parents’ lifestyle. His son’s future becomes Kino’s strongest motivation in obtaining a good price for his pearl.

And the baby was weary and petulant, and he cried softly until Juana gave him her breast, and then he gurgled and clucked against her.

This scene as described by the narrator, in which the family takes a brief respite during the trackers’ pursuit, shows the toll that the entire ordeal takes on Coyotito. The irony, of course, is that Kino desires to sell the pearl for the highest possible price so he can use the money earned to provide a better life for his son. Instead, Coyotito has been forced from his home and his community. Only his mother can offer him any comfort in this situation.

And in the surface of the pearl he saw Coyotito lying in the little cave with the top of his head shot away. And the pearl was ugly; it was gray, like a malignant growth.

Here, the narrator describes how Kino’s feelings about the pearl have changed, and why. Coyotito’s death by a tracker’s gun is the devastating result of the escalating violence that follows Kino’s discovery of the pearl. While Kino becomes involved in a series of attacks that increasingly become more vicious, Kino never let go of his dream that the pearl would be beneficial to Coyotito. Instead, the pearl and the evil such a valuable object provokes lead to the end of little Coyotito’s life.