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The Pearl

The Pearl

by John Steinbeck

The Pearl Chapter 5 Summary

  • Kino opens his eyes in the darkness to see Juana gliding about like a shadow. He watches her silently leave their hut and follows her out to the beach in a rage.
  • Kino manages to stop her just as she is about to throw the pearl into the water. He wrestles it back, strikes her in the face, and kicks her once she’s fallen to the ground.
  • Juana is terrified and, looking at Kino, knows that he is capable of murder.
  • As Kino makes his way back to the hut, a figure attacks him. He stabs the figure with his knife while the pearl is knocked onto the ground.
  • Juana, meanwhile, isn’t angry at her husband. She knows he is a man, which means he is "half insane and half god," which means he will struggle against mountains and oceans even though he’s out of his weight division, so to speak.
  • Her job, she knows, is to be a woman, which means "reason," "caution," and "preservation."
  • Juana picks herself up off the ground and retrieves the pearl. Holding it in her hands, she wonders whether she should go back and finish the job (i.e., throw it back into the ocean).
  • But then she sees two figures in the darkness, Kino, moving sluggishly, and a second man who is bleeding from the throat.
  • Then she decides it would be useless to throw the pearl away; now that Kino has killed a man, she can never retrieve the peace they all had before the pearl came into their lives.
  • When the couple makes it back home, Kino rants about how he lost the pearl until Juana tells him she retrieved it and he should stop whining because they need to skip town before he’s convicted of murder.
  • When they get to the canoe, he sees that someone has knocked a hole in the bottom. Kino is in a rage; this is worse than killing a man, he thinks, because a boat cannot heal or protect itself.
  • Kino becomes an animal; his only thoughts are for survival and protection.
  • He runs back to his house only to see that someone has lit it on fire.
  • He takes Juana and Coyotito and runs to his brother’s nearby house, where Apolonia is busy grieving, thinking they’re dead.
  • She stops grieving.
  • Because Juan is the older brother, he takes authority; he tells Kino that the pearl is evil and that he will hide him for the day (dawn is breaking) before his (Kino’s) journey the next evening to the North.
  • The next night, after darkness has fallen, Juan asks if Kino is willing to destroy the pearl.
  • Kino declares that the pearl has become his soul.
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