The Black Pearl (Scott O'Dell)
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The Black Pearl is a young adult novel by Scott O'Dell first published in 1967 about the coming of age of the son of a pearl dealer living in the Baja peninsula. It was a Newbery Honor book in 1967.
The Black Pearl is the story of sixteen-year-old Ramón Salazar, who lived with his family in Baja California, Mexico. When Ramon’s father, Blas Salazar, the most famous pearl dealer in the region, makes his son a partner in the business, it is the happiest day of his life. Gaspar Ruiz, known as the "Sevillano," is the Salazar's best diver.
The Sevillano, however, is a braggart who continually boasts of his great achievements. Ramon believes the Sevillano directs his tales to him more than to anyone else. Ramon’s dream is to find a pearl so large that the Sevillano will have to treat him with respect. To achieve this goal Ramon convinces Soto Luzon, who sells pearls to his father, to teach him to dive for pearls in his lagoon. Soto Luzon, a superstitious Indian, informs Ramon that the Manta Diablo, a giant manta, lives in a cave in the lagoon. Ramon continues to practice his diving in the lagoon, however, and on the fourth day his dream comes true – he finds the great Pearl of Heaven. Although Ramon offers to share his good fortune with the Indian, Soto Luzon refuses insisting that the pearl belongs to the Manta Diablo. He warns Ramon that Manta will want it back.The discovery of the pearl brings much excitement to the Salazar family and town of La Paz. Ramon’s father decides to give the pearl to the church after an unpleasant and unsuccessful attempt to sell it. It is his hope that the gesture will insure protection for his fleet. On his next trip to sea, the fleet is destroyed during a storm. Blas Salazar and all of his men but one are drowned; the only survivor is Sevillano. When Ramon learns of the tragedy, he realizes that the Indian was right and he decides to return the pearl to the Manta Diablo. Taking the pearl from the church, he sets out by boat for the lagoon. The Sevillano who is determined to have the pearl soon overtakes him. The Manta Diablo appears in the water and circles the boat. The Sevillano harpoons the creature, but in the act is caught in the rope and drowned. Ramon makes his way back to La Paz and returns the pearl to the church.