The Pearl: Novel Summary: Chapter 6
In the night Kino and Juana with Coyotito skirt the edge of the town and take the road through the brush country towards Loreto. The night is windy and Kino is thankful because the wind will erase their tracks on the dusty path. The family walks all night and the wind dies down soon after moonrise. Tapping into the ancient ways of his people, Kino is exceptionally "cautious and wary and dangerous" like a hunted animal and is careful that they should walk in the wheel ruts so that in the morning the first wagon will erase their prints. At dawn they take shelter off the road behind a clump of trees and Kino uses a branch to wipe away the footprints where they left the road.
Kino and Juana eat some of Apolonia's corncakes and then Juana falls asleep but Kino stays awake. The air is hot and dry. When Juana awakes at midday she asks him if they will be followed and Kino answers that most likely they will but he doesn't know who attacked him or who will follow. Kino reiterates his desire for a rifle once the pearl is sold. Kino looks deep into the pearl's surface and is shocked by a series of images: the man he has stabbed, Juana crawling painfully through the surf and Coyotito's face flushed with fever. The music of the pearl has become the music of evil. Kino puts the pearl away and eventually falls asleep.
Juana stays awake and plays with Coyotito after he awakes. Kino begins to thrash in the grip of a nightmare and comes awake fully alert. He creeps to a clump of bushes by the road and sees two trackers on foot and a rifleman on a horse coming down the road. Kino knows that these men are experts and if they find the place he has swept he will have to lunge forward and try to kill the gunman first. After pausing at the spot, however, the trio continues down the road. Kino knows they will return and panic takes hold of him. He suggests to Juana that he should surrender but she reminds him that the trackers will not allow him to live once they have the pearl. Kino decides that the family should flee overland into the stony mountains were it will be more difficult to follow their trail.
As Kino and Juana frantically make their way across the scorched arid landscape toward the granite mountains Kino hears the song of evil resounding clearly in his head. They pause at the first rise in the land and Juana and Coyotito drink the last of the water. Kino tells his wife to hide and wait for the trackers to pass and he will continue alone. Juana refuses to leave him and Kino takes strength from her resolution. Moving with more purpose now, Kino and his family zigzag toward the mountains in an effort to throw off the trackers. The ground begins to rise steeply and Kino readjusts their course toward a cleft in the mountains that looks like it might contain water. He knows that the trackers may have the same thought but without water his family will not survive so he has no choice. The narrator describes the rivulet of water in the cleft that draws all the animals in the area either to drink or to hunt the game that comes to drink - in this way the rivulet is a giver of both life and death.
By the time Kino, Juana and Coyotito reach the water the sun has set behind the mountains. There is still enough light, however, for Kino to see that far behind them the trackers have begun to follow the family's path to the cleft. He knows they will arrive before dark. Juana and Coyotito hide in one of the shallow cave-like depressions in the cliff wall and Kino joins them after creating a diversionary path further up the cliff. Juana promises that the baby will not cry because she claims he knows of the danger.
The trackers and the gunman eventually arrive at the spring and although they see Kino's diversionary trail they decide to settle for the night. Kino can see the tracker's cigarettes glowing in the night. Juana struggles to keep the baby silent. One of the men strikes a match and Kino can see that he is sitting up with the rifle and the other two are asleep. Kino tells Juana that he will sneak up on the man and seize the rifle but he must do so before the moon rises and sheds too much light. Although she initially resists the idea, Juana accepts it once she realizes they will be discovered in the morning.
Kino removes his white clothes because "his own brown skin was better protection for him" and cautiously makes his way to just a few yards from the watchman. The song of the family is in Kino's ears as he slowly edges closer. Just as Kino is about to pounce on the man and seize the gun, the moon rises and fills the area with light. Kino hesitates a moment and in that instant he hears the sound of Coyotito crying from above. The watcher stands up, awakening one of the sleepers and they decide that the sound, which repeats, might be a coyote pup. The rifleman cocks his gun to fire at the sound and Kino jumps, but too late to prevent the man from getting off a shot. Kino stabs the rifleman in the neck and chest, fatally strikes the seated man and shoots the third with the rifle as he tries to flee up the side of the cliff. In the ensuing silence Kino hears Juana's hysterical cries and he knows that his son is dead.
Late in the afternoon Kino and Juana return to the La Paz carrying the dead Coyotito in a blood soaked bundle. They walk into town side by side, Juana is distant and fatigued, Kino full of danger and fear. The narrator interjects that perhaps because the setting sun cast long shadows this is what "left the deep impression on those who saw them." The neighbors stand away as they pass and Juan Tomas raises his hand in greeting but does not speak. Kino now hears the song of the family as a battle cry as they steadily make their way to the seashore where he removes the pearl and sees in its surface an image of his dead son. He first offers the pearl to Juana to throw in the ocean. She shakes her head, indicating that Kino must do it himself. Using all his strength, Kino throws the pearl far into the ocean where it settles to the bottom and is soon covered by the sand raised by a scuttling crab.
This chapter begins with the details of the family's departure from the town and the subsequent pursuit. The narrator interjects at several points to describe the manner in which Kino has become more like an animal fleeing danger. In some instances, as when he thinks to walk in the wagon ruts, this serves is to his advantage but as in the case where he and the family haphazardly run to the high place "as nearly all animals do when they are pursued" his animal instincts override his ability to reason. The narrator's vivid description of the spring to which they flee underscore the fact that Kino and Juana have become only the most recent example of animals driven to its water to either take sustenance or bring death. Once he is cornered Kino resolves to attack the pursuers before they can discover the family and to do this he removes his clothing and completes his transformation. The family has become little more than hunted game sheltering in a makeshift den. Significantly, Coyotito's cries are mistaken for that of a Coyote pup and Juana's primal screams are described as "the cry of death".
Kino's confidence in the pearl begins to waver during the course of the pursuit. Not only does he consider surrendering after he first sees the trackers but he panics and leads the family pell-mell across the plain without regard for the easy trail they are leaving for the trackers. In both instances, Juana reassures him and reaffirms his need for preservation. Most importantly, the visions of prosperity and happiness Kino once saw in the pearl change and become dark and macabre. Finally, after Coyotito's death, Kino understands that the pearl has brought evil to his family and he is able to throw it back into the sea. Significantly he offers Juana, who was first to understand the evil of the pearl, the chance to dispose of it. True to her station, however, Juana remains steadfast as Kino's wife and returns his manhood to him by insisting that he do the deed himself.
At story's end, his association with the pearl has irrevocably changed Kino. Whereas the song of the family was once filled with comfort and security it now sounds like a call to battle. Kino is at once full of anger for the misery that has been wrought upon his family and full of fear for the future. Of the things Kino wished for from the pearl only the rifle has come to fruition. He returns to the village holding the rifle and Juana returns holding their dead son. The juxtaposition of these images makes clear the price Kino has paid for his daring wish for a rifle.