The Pearl: Character Profiles
Kino The main character in the story. Kino is an indian pearl diver of the village near La Paz. He is poor and lives in a brush hut near the shore. He has a wife, Juana, and an infant son, Coyotito. Although he is not aware of it, Kino's name comes from the 17th century Jesuit, Eusebius Kino, who was a missionary in the region of La Paz. Kino is a quiet man, at harmony with nature and well liked in the village. He hears the songs of his people in his head but doesn't know if anyone else hears them. He has the capacity to be kind to a dog but also to crush a scorpion in his bare hands. His most valuable possession is his canoe, which has been passed down to him from his grandfather and father. He has a brother Juan Thomas who also lives in the village. Kino finds a great pearl that inspires him to dream of things beyond his position.
Juana Wife of Kino. Her name means "woman" and her character is the idealized woman of the parable. She is strong enough to row the canoe but gentle enough to nurse her infant son. Throughout the story she is a source of strength and support for her husband even when she believes his actions are misguided. She believes that women and men are different and does not seek to step outside that difference. Once Juana comes to understand that the pearl is evil she attempts to save her family by throwing it into the ocean. After Kino beats her for her defiance she relents to the conviction driving him and agrees to accompany him to the city.
Coyotito The only son of Juana and Kino, the infant Coyotito is the catalyst for much of what happens in the novel. In his innocence and ignorance, he causes the scorpion to fall on him and sting him. The need created by his illness leads to the discovery the pearl. Kino's desire that Coyotito receive an education is one of the most important things driving him to receive a fair sum for the pearl. Coyotito embodies the family's survival and his death symbolizes the destruction of the family. Coyotito's name derives from the Nahuatl word "coyotl" and in Spanish is the diminuitive for "coyote". Appropriately, his cries in the cleft of the mountains leads the trackers to believe they are hearing a coyote pup.
Juan Thomas Elder brother of Kino and his one true friend in the village. Juan Thomas offers Kino shelter after Kino has killed a man. Juan Thomas also offers him advice on the pearl. He is a humble man who is seemingly content with his station in life yet understands Kino's desire to better the station of his own family.
Apolonia Wife of Juan Thomas. She is described as "fat". She and Juan Thomas have four children. Although her character is but briefly defined we can infer that she is loyal to Juan Thomas because she assists in hiding Kino and Juana. Also, she suffers real grief when she believes that Kino and his family have perished in the destruction of their hut she is vain enough to want to change into her best clothes for the occasion.
The Priest The local religious leader of the Catholic church. He is accustomed to treating the indians like children and he approves of Kino's plan to remarry Juana in the church. Kino distrusts his motives and hears the song of evil when the priest enters their hut. Juana, however, seeks to impress the Priest with the promise that they will marry in the church.
The Doctor The most fully developed of the secondary characters, the doctor is full of avarice, deception and greed. He is of the race that has oppressed Kino's people for generations. The Doctor has become fat and lazy and often dreams of his younger days in Paris. He resents the poverty of the village and refuses to treat Indians unless they prove they can pay for his services first. Kino believes that the doctor intentionally poisons Coyotito in order to capitalize on the wealth that the pearl will bring. The doctor offers to store the pearl in his safe and when Kino refuses, the doctor uses the opportunity to discover where it is hidden.