La chanson de Hannah

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Jean-Paul Nozière

Juana—Juana is Kino’s young wife. She is far more intuitive than Kino, who only gradually comes to understand the evil power of the pearl—and only gives it up after he has paid a great price for trying to profit from it. Juana often acts in the best interest of the family; for example, she is quick to suck the poison from Coyotito’s shoulder, whereas Kino simply vents his anger and frustration by destroying the evil. Juana is a practical woman. She also sees that the pearl is a magnet for evil and attempts to return it to the sea—but her reward is to be beaten for it. She also never even thinks of abandoning Kino even when he beats her and even though he is possessed by the evil of pearl. She knows that their lives are united in one and that she will follow him, even if he will lead them to their destruction.

However, it is Juana who also first inspires the break from tradition. Rather than appeal first to the ancient medicinal customs of the village, she insists that they must see the “official” doctor. This is a mistake because the doctor has no better medicine than what the sea itself can give in the form of a seaweed poultice. Juana turns to the sea after the doctor denies them, but by that point, she has already inspired her husband to dive for a pearl that will convince the doctor to help them. Juana is not led by reason in her break from tradition, but rather by an emotional appeal to authority. She mistrusts the authority of generations that have surely dealt with scorpion stings before.

Still, it is Juana who best symbolizes devotion, even if it is a devotion that is partly mixed of the old and the new, the true and the false. She falls for the deception of the doctor, but also understands the practicality of the traditional. She prays to the Holy Virgin, but also mutters magical spells that she thinks may work. She is a mixture of paganism and Christianity, of old traditions and a longing for novelty—but in the end, she too returns to the village with Kino, sadder and poorer but wiser and stronger.

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