And the evils of the night were about them. The coyotes cried and laughed in the brush, and the owls screeched and hissed over their heads. And once some large animal lumbered away, crackling the undergrowth as it went. And Kino gripped the handle of the big working knife and took a sense of protection from it.
This quotation from Chapter 6 demonstrates how Kino’s relationship with nature has changed, symbolizing his personal and moral downfall. In general, Steinbeck portrays the natural world positively in The Pearl, using beautiful language and images of sun-drenched scenery. This scene reverses that trend, as Steinbeck illustrates the dark and frightening aspect of nature. We sense that the universe itself opposes Kino’s course of action. Kino himself reveals an adversarial relationship with nature by his defensive gripping of his knife handle to reassure himself. Where Kino earlier lived in harmony with nature, his ambition has made him nature’s enemy.