The thing had become a neighborhood affair. They made a quick soft-footed procession into the center of the town, first Juana and Kino, and behind them Juan Tomás and Apolonia[.]
The narrator explains how the residents of the brush huts follow Kino and Juana to town to see the doctor. In this scene, readers easily note the allegiance between Kino and his brother, Juan Tomás. Juan Tomás and his wife, Apolonia, are right behind Kino and Juana, supporting them in their ordeal. This scene suggests that Juan Tomás will serve as a mentor to his brother in the episodes to come and emphasizes the bonds of family.
And Juan Tomás, who squatted on Kino’s right hand because he was his brother, asked, “What will you do now that you have become a rich man?”
Here the role of Juan Tomás in the book becomes even more apparent, as he literally appears as Kino’s right-hand man at the same time that he raises the crucial issue of the wealth Kino expects to earn from the pearl. While Kino has specific ideas about what he will do with his money, everyone but Juan Tomás also has their own ideas. Only Juan Tomás seems content to see Kino earn wealth from his pearl.
We do know that we are cheated from birth to the overcharge on our coffins. But we survive. You have defied not the pearl buyers, but the whole structure, the whole way of life, and I am afraid for you.
Wanting to help his brother, Juan Tomás speaks these words after the dealers refuse to give Kino a fair price for his pearl. While Juan Tomás knows that Kino is being cheated, he also recognizes the way things are done in their community. As poor, indigenous villagers, men like themselves hold no power and must accept what is offered to them. By refusing to sell his pearl for a too-low offer, Kino upends the normal order and invites disaster.
And after each trip among the neighbors Juan Tomás came back with something borrowed. He brought a little woven straw bag of red beans and a gourd full of rice. He borrowed a cup of dried peppers and a block of salt, and he brought in a long working knife, eighteen inches long and heavy, as a small ax, a tool and a weapon.
The narrator explains how, after Kino and Juana’s hut burns down and they prepare to journey to the city, Juan Tomás gets them items they will need for the trip. As he does throughout the book, Juan Tomás shows himself to be wise, practical, and compassionate. He gives his brother shelter when everyone else is looking for him, goods that will ensure Kino’s family’s survival, and advice, such as getting rid of the pearl, that Kino would have been better off to take.