Study Guide

The Pearl Chapter 6

By John Steinbeck

Chapter 6

  • Kino and Juana travel with Coyotito north toward Lareto (another town on the Baja Peninsula).
  • We learn some more insight into Kino: he gets in touch with his ancestors while watching the stars and the wilderness.
  • They find the road, and Kino travels with the music of the pearl and the music of family intermingling in his mind.
  • When they stop to hide and rest on the side of the road during daylight, he brushes away their footprints.
  • Kino gives Juana a bunch of advice on what kind of trees to avoid and what is bad luck, etc. She already knows all of this, but she humors him anyway.
  • Juana suggests that maybe the dealers were right, maybe the pearl is valueless and this has all "been an illusion."
  • Kino counters that, if this were true, everyone wouldn’t be trying to steal it.
  • He then decides to comfort himself by looking into the pearl and imagining all the things he can buy with his wealth. He speaks of a rifle, but all he can see is the nameless, murdered man on the ground. He speaks of getting married in a church, but all he can see in the reflection of the pearl is Juana lying beaten on the ground.
  • The music of the pearl grows sinister, so Kino puts it back in his pocket.
  • They go to sleep (it’s still daylight) and Kino wakes from a horrible nightmare, sensing that something is wrong. He tells his wife to keep Coyotito quiet.
  • Through the bushes he watches a group of trackers go by. These are dangerous men with sharp senses—so it’s bad news for any folk that might be hiding in the underbrush with the world’s most valuable pearl.
  • Kino sneaks to the edge of the road, draws his knife and gets ready to attack if he needs to.
  • Coyotito starts making noises, so Juana suckles him to keep him quiet.
  • Nervous and preparing for flight, Kino hurries back to Juana. He tells her they are trackers and wonders whether he should give up himself to save his family.
  • But then he declares they will go try to hide themselves in the mountains. Panicked, he doesn’t even bother to hide their tracks as they move.
  • The terrain as they travel to higher ground is desert, with cacti and little water and broken rock underfoot.
  • Kino hears the music of evil again.
  • When they get higher, they stop to rest. Kino looks behind him but can’t see any sign of the trackers.
  • Kino decides that Juana and Coyotito should hide while he goes North to sell the pearl.
  • But Juana resolutely refuses. So that’s that. They keep moving up the mountains, but this time they’re not as panicked.
  • Kino leaves decoy footprints as they go so as to lead the trackers off in the wrong direction.
  • At last, Kino and Juana find water in pool fed by a little stream.
  • Everything is fantastic until Kino looks down the slope and sees the trackers approaching; he judges that they will get to the pool by evening.
  • Spotting some shallow caves, Kino decides they should hide out. He warns Juana that she must not let Coyotito cry out.
  • That night, the trackers camp out by the pool and build a fire. Leaving Juana in the cave with the baby, Kino decides to be confrontational. He takes off his white clothes, since his dark skin is better camouflage.
  • As she watches her husband go, Juana whispers prayers and incantations of protection.
  • Kino slides toward the trackers in the darkness, listening to the Song of the Family and the music of the enemy.
  • Just when he is about to attack, the moon rises. There’s too much light, so Kino holds himself back.
  • Then… Coyotito cries out. The trackers think it is just a coyote with her pups, and one of them declares that, if it is, this ought to silence him.
  • He then raises his gun in the direction of Juana and Coyotito; Kino leaps up and stabs his knife into the man’s neck just as the gun goes off.
  • Kino goes nuts on the three men, managing to stab two, steal the rifle, and shoot the other man between the eyes.
  • Just as he’s reveling in his victory, though, he hears "the cry of death" coming from the cave.
  • There’s a break in the page and, while we don’t start a new chapter, we definitely pull out of this story. The narration begins to speak of the town of La Paz, and how everyone in it remembers the return of the family.
  • Then we get to see the return. Kino and Juana return side-by-side, which is unusual since she usually follows behind him. (Because she’s a woman.)
  • Kino carries a rifle, and Juana carries a limp, unmoving, bloody bundle in her shawl.
  • According to what the villagers say, the couple seems "removed from human experience." They had experienced pain and are now protected by some sort of magic.
  • Kino, meanwhile, hears the "Song of the Family," which has become for him a battle cry.
  • Kino walks to the water’s edge, past his destroyed canoe. He takes out the pearl and looks into it, and sees in it evil faces. He sees one of the dead trackers and Coyotito’s body "with the top of his head shot away."
  • The pearl now looks horrible and ugly to him, like a cancerous growth. The pearl’s music is now distorted, different than before.
  • He tries to hand it over to Juana, but she says, "No, you."
  • So Kino flings the pearl with all his might into the ocean. It falls to the bottom and is covered by a cloud of sand.
  • The music of the pearl disappears.

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