Discussion Questions over The Pearl
Please copy/paste these questions into an email and then send me your answers. Most of them don't have a "correct" answer; just tell me what you think.
These will need a longer answer:
- Who takes charge after Coyotito gets stung? Why?
- Why do the neighbors say the doctor won't come?
- Why is the doctor so mean?
- Why does the doctor's servant speak Spanish at first and the "old language" later?
- How do you feel about the neighbors getting so involved in what's going on (coming into their hut, going with them to the doctor's house, etc.)?
- Why do the neighbors do that?
These will need a longer answer:
- Give three examples of it describing nature in this chapter. Why do you think the author spends so much time describing nature?
- List three ways the city is different than the village. Why do you think the author tells us all those differences?
- List three ways the villagers are different than the people in the city. Why are they so different?
- What does this line mean: "There was no certainty in seeing, no proof that what you saw was there or was not there"? Why was it like that for Kino's people?
- Why would Kino's canoe be a "thing of value"?
- Explain this line: "But the remedy lacked his authority because it was simple and didn't cost anything." Can you think of cases where that kind of thinking happens today? What about the opposite, where we do trust people/ideas that maybe we shouldn't trust, but we do just because of their 'official' position?
- Do you agree that "it is not good to want a thing too much"? Why or why not? What's something you REALLY want in life?
- What other wonderful "accidents" do you know of? Do some quick research to find at least two "accidental discoveries."
- What happens to the oysters after the divers throw them back into the water? How do you feel about that? Why don't they keep them to eat?
- The book says, "“The news came to the doctor where he sat with a woman whose illness was age, though neither she nor the doctor would admit it.” What does that mean (How can age be an illness)? Why would neither one of them admit it?
- Why is the doctor unhappy with his job? Why do you think he's working here if he doesn't like it?
- In the real world, do you think everyone is evil and greedy like the townspeople in the book?
- Why is it so important to Kino that his son learn to read?
- Kino thinks "“the gods take their revenge on a man if he be successful through his own efforts.” Why do you think his culture believes that?
- Do you think Juana is right about getting rid of the pearl? Why or why not?
- When describing the pearl buyers, the book says, “for every man in the world functions to the best of his ability, and no one does less than his best, no matter what he may think about it.” Do you think it's important to always do your best? Why?
- The neighbors hope the pearl won't "destroy" Kino. How can money "destroy" people? Does it always?
- Every year, the priest tells them the story of how the villagers were cheated by their agents. [You might need to read that section again.] He uses it to tell them that each person should "remain faithful to his post" and not "leave their station." What are some situations where it's better to 'know your place,' and what are some other situations where it's better to push the boundaries and/or rock the boat? Why?
- Is there any evidence in the book that the first pearl buyer is lying when he says the pearl is worthless?
- Why do the villagers not want to face the idea that the dealers had arranged the whole deceptive plan?
- Can you think of cases in real life where people don't want to admit that the whole group or society has been wrong all along?
- Juan Tomás says "Go with God" (Vaya con Dios). Do you know what "adios" means? Open your computers and do some quick research to find out the origin of the phrases "adios" and "goodbye."
- Why does Juana try to throw away the pearl herself? Why doesn't she "resist or even protest" when she thought he might kill her? Why doesn't she get mad at him?
- How do you feel about him hitting and kicking her? Was he justified because he was protecting the family or was he wrong because she is his family? In other words, can you hurt someone in order to protect them from getting hurt? Do the ends justify the means?
- Why does she follow/obey Kino even when she knows he's going up against a mountain sometimes? Would you follow someone you trust even when it seems like they're wrong?
- Why do they think the people of the town won't care that it was self-defense? In today's world, how can people get a fair trial?
- If your sibling or best friend was in trouble like this, would you hide them even though it might mean trouble for you and your family? Why or why not?
- On p.70, it says, “But Kino sat on the ground and stared at the earth in front of him. He watched the ants moving, a little column of them near to his foot, and he put his foot in their path. Then the column climbed over his instep and continued on its way, and Kino left his foot there and watched them move over it.” Why did the author include that? What do you think it might symbolize?
- On p.71, re-read the paragraph that starts with “He looked into his pearl to find his vision.” Why does the author give us these three contrasts? What doesn't he see the rifle, the wedding, and Coyotito at school anymore?
- Can you find any evidence that the trackers are Mexican Indians but the man on the horse is Spanish? Why would they work for him, knowing that they're tracking down another Indian, probably leading to his death?
- (a) If Juana is supposed to obey her husband, why does she refuse to go north without him? She tells him "no" three times. (b) Why does Kino give in?
- Explain the line “The little pools were places of life because of the water, and places of killing because of the water, too.” What can we learn from that in real life?
- Why is the Song of the Family strong in Kino as he climbs down the cliff?
- What does it mean that "there was almost a magical protection about them” when they came back into town, and a little later that Kino was "immune”? Why? Immune from what?