The Pearl

by: John Steinbeck

Chapter 3

1

Every man suddenly became related to Kino’s pearl, and Kino’s pearl went into the dreams, the speculations, the schemes, the plans, the futures, the wishes, the needs, the lusts, the hungers, of everyone, and only one person stood in the way and that was Kino, so that he became curiously every man’s enemy.

2

But Kino’s face shone with prophecy. “My son will read and open the books, and my son will write and will know writing. And my son will make numbers, and those things will make us free because he will know—he will know and through him we will know.” And in the pearl Kino saw himself and Juana squatting by the little fire in the brush hut while Coyotito read from a great book. “This is what the pearl will do,” said Kino.

3

But now, by saying what his future was going to be like, he had created it. A plan is a real thing, and things projected are experienced. A place once made and visualized becomes a reality along with other realities—never to be destroyed but easily to be attacked. Thus Kino’s future was real, but having set it up, other forces were set up to destroy it, and this he knew, so that he had to prepare to meet the attack.

4

And Juana, sitting by the fire hole, watched him with questioning eyes, and when he had buried his pearl she asked, “Who do you fear?” Kino searched for a true answer, and at last he said, “Everyone.” And he could feel a shell of hardness drawing over him.

5

And the beauty of the pearl, winking and glimmering in the light of the little candle, cozened his brain with its beauty. So lovely it was, so soft, and its own music came from it—its music of promise and delight, its guarantee of the future, of comfort, of security. Its warm lucence promised a poultice against illness and a wall against insult. It closed a door on hunger.