Study Guide

The Pearl Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By John Steinbeck

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation Stage

Kino looks for a pearl.

Unable to pay for the doctor to examine his scorpion-stung baby, Kino takes to the water in the hopes of finding a great pearl. "But the pearls were accidents, and the finding of one was luck, a little pat on the back by God or the gods or both" (1.9). Every time he goes into the water, then, is like another Anticipation Stage for Kino.

Dream Stage

Kino finds a pearl.

Not just any pearl, mind you, but the world’s greatest pearl. And for someone who’s just won the lottery of La Paz, Kino’s dreams are relatively modest: getting married in a church, educating his son, and buying a rifle.

Frustration Stage

Kino is unable to sell the pearl (for a reasonable price).

Yes, we imagine that would be frustrating. We’d like to add, however, that the causes of Kino’s frustration are rooted in his grossly unfair society: the pearl buyers are in collusion and out to swindle the poor pearl divers. So while Kino can be frustrated with his personal predicament, we can all be frustrated with the racism, oppression, and abuse of power that exists in the universe.

Nightmare Stage

Kino is attacked and hunted.

This stage really does have a nightmarish quality to it; Kino becomes more and more like an animal, he and his family wander outdoors amidst wild creatures, and they’re forced to travel at night.

Destruction or Death Wish Stage

Kino’s son is killed.

Although Kino has a brief moment of triumph when he beats down three professional trackers, the glory short-lived. Coyotito is murdered, which sounds extremely destructive to us. You could also think of it as the death of Kino’s last human qualities, since he takes on animalistic traits in murdering the three trackers.

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