The Pearl – A Summary of John Steinbeck’s Novel


Summary by George Mulama

The story begins at dawn in the house of the main character Kino. A scorpion stings the baby and the screams of the baby alert the neighbours. Kino’s family and the neighbours leave towards the doctor’s residence. On realising that Kino is from a different race, and he is poor, the doctor is reluctant to treat the baby. Kino, and his wife Juana go for pearl fishing after the doctor’s refusal to treat Coyotito. Kino finds the great Pearl of the World.

News that Kino had found the Pearl of the World spreads. All manner of people such as the priest, the doctor, the beggars, the pearl buyers all crave for a share from the sale of the valuable pearl. Kino plans to use the proceeds from the pearl to be married in church, to buy new clothes, buy a rifle and take his son to school. Later in the night Kino fights off a thief who had come to steal the pearl. Juana pleads with Kino to throw the pearl away but Kino is adamant. Kino decides to sell the pearl the next day.

A big crowd follows Kino, Juana and Coyotito to witness the selling of the pearl. The pearl buyers quote very low prices for Kino’s pearl and this infuriates Kino who walks away. Later in the night Kino is attacked and injured by robbers who want to steal the pearl. At night, Juana attempts to throw the pearl into the sea while Kino is asleep. Kino however sees her and catches her just before she throws it. He encounters robbers who attack and leave him unconscious. Kino sees his house on fire and they run for refuge to his brother’s house.

Kino’s family quietly set off in the dark towards the cities of the north. Kino realises that three trackers are after him. They flee towards the mountains and finally rest in a cave. Kino edges towards the trackers just in time for daybreak. The cry of Coyotito is heard. Though the trackers think it is a coyote, they shoot to silence it unknowingly killing Coyotito. Kino attacks the trackers and kills all but he can hear the moaning from Juana. Kino, and Juana who is carrying the dead baby arrive back in La Paz. The people fear their appearance. Kino finally hurls the pearl into the sea.

Contact Mulama ( to get a copy of the full analysis of The Pearl. The e-book costs $2.00.

Click here to read more about John Steinbeck  – the author of The Pearl


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