The Pearl

by: John Steinbeck

The Doctor Quotes

Quotes The Doctor Quotes
They knew his ignorance, his cruelty, his avarice, his appetites, his sins. They knew his clumsy abortions and the little brown pennies he gave sparingly for alms. They had seen his corpses go into the church.

The town beggars are the only members of the community who know the truth about the doctor: He is a lazy, greedy, unlawful charlatan. Instead of caring about the health of people around him, the doctor values money and personal pleasure. Instead of describing the people the doctor has cured, the beggars bear witness for the people the doctor has harmed or even killed.

The doctor was not of his race. The doctor was of a race which for nearly four hundred years had beaten and starved and robbed and despised Kino’s race, and frightened it too, so that the indigene came humbly to the door.

The narrator provides insight into how Kino views the doctor. Initially Kino feels unsure whether to trust the doctor, who traces his Spanish descent from the race of the original colonizers of Mexico. The Europeans have only acted in ways to make indigenous people like Kino feel wary of them and their motives. Now, his son faced with a potentially lethal scorpion sting, Kino has little choice but to put his faith in a man who neither understands nor respects him.

Have I nothing better to do than cure insect bites for ‘little Indians’? I am a doctor, not a veterinary.

When learning that Juana and Kino have brought their son for treatment, the doctor’s response shows his disregard for the indigenous people. He compares them to animals and mocks them. However, despite his personal feelings, he acknowledges that he would treat the baby if the parents had money. Thus the doctor reveals himself to be a greedy, evil racist.

The doctor looked surprised. “I had not heard of it. Do you keep this pearl in a safe place? Perhaps you would like me to put it in my safe?”

To uphold his fiction that he treated Coyotito as soon as he was able, the doctor pretends that he did not know about the pearl until Kino tells him about it. This speech provides yet another example of the doctor’s disingenuousness. The doctor dissembles because he wants Kino to feel secure with him and give him information about the pearl, or even the pearl itself.

The doctor shrugged, and his wet eyes never left Kino’s eyes. He knew the pearl would be buried in the house, and he thought Kino might look toward the place where it was buried. “It would be a shame to have it stolen before you could sell it,” the doctor said, and he saw Kino’s eyes flick involuntarily to the floor near the side post of the brush house.

In this scene, the doctor keeps a close eye on Kino in hopes that he will involuntarily reveal the location of the pearl. This interest, combined with his words which have a menacing undertone, strongly suggests that the doctor is the person attempting to steal the pearl later that evening. He would not be satisfied with a fee for his treatment of Coyotito but wants the entire wealth of the pearl.