The Black Pearl (Scott O'Dell)

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First edition (publ. Houghton Mifflin)

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.

Plot summary[edit]

The Black Pearl is the story of sixteen-year-old Ramón Salazar, who lives with his family in Baja California. Ramón's father, Blas Salazar, is the most famous pearl dealer in the region. Gaspar Ruiz, known as the "Sevillano," is the Salazar's best diver, and continually boasts of his great achievements.

Ramon's dream is to find a pearl so large that the Sevillano will have to treat him with respect. To achieve this goal Ramón 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 Ramón that the Manta Diablo, a giant manta ray, lives in a cave in the lagoon. Ramón 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 Ramón offers to share his good fortune with the Indian, Soto Luzon refuses, insisting that the pearl belongs to the Manta Diablo. He warns Ramón that the Manta will want it back. The discovery of the pearl brings much excitement to the Salazar family and the town of La Paz. Ramón's father decides to give the pearl to one of the church workers after an unpleasant and unsuccessful attempt to sell it. It is his hope that the gesture will ensure 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 was drowned; the only survivor is the Sevillano. When Ramón learns of the tragedy, he realizes that the Indian was right and he decides to return the pearl to the Manta Diablo.

Ramón sneaks out on night and starts his journey back to the lagoon where he found the pearl. He also finds out the Sevillano was following him; he wanted to take the pearl and sell it. The Sevillano threatens Ramón and coerces him to go to Guaymas with his knife. However, they soon see the Manta Diablo following them, and take refuge on Los Muertos. Later, after they leave the island, the Manta Diablo finds them and circles the boat, prompting the Sevillano to harpoon it. However, when the Sevillano attempts to kill it, he disappears with the manta and is presumably drowned. Ramón decides to take the pearl back to the church and gives the pearl to the Madonna as a gift of love.

See also[edit]