The story opens in a small seaside village where a poor, but happy family of 3 live. Kino, Juana, and Coyotito. The song of family is in their ears.
Then, the song of evil arrives. A scorpion stings Coyotito. Juana does her best to suck out the poison, but its not enough. They need a doctor, but don't have money for one.
Kino goes into the ocean in search for a pearl. Kino finds such a great pearl that it attracts attention from the villagers, and the rich of the town. Dealers try cheating him. Kino and Juana end up fighting thieves, robbers, and themselves when the greed and lust for the pearl becomes unbearable.
The two inevitably decide they must leave. Juana decides to go home to gather their belongings while kino goes to ready the canoe. However, they are each met with a disaster: Kino finds the canoe destroyed and Juana finds the house on fire. Narrowly escaping, the family hides at Juan Tomas's house until it is safe to leave for the capital to sell the pearl.
The family leaves to travel up the mountain to get to the capital city. Kino realizes he's being followed and try's to cover up his tracks. The trackers, not realizing they were hot on the trail, stood right beneath the cave in which Kino's family was and stood guard for the night. In the night Coyotito crys and one of the trackers, believing he was a coyote, shot him.
Carrying their dead child, they come back from the mountains to their village, where the villagers silently look on. Kino that takes the pearl and throws it into the ocean, where a crab takes it to its shell.