For example, when the scorpion is about to sting Coyotes, Kink hears the song of evil. “Kink’s breath whistled in his nostrils and he opened his mouth to stop it. And then the startled look was gone from him and the rigidity from his body. In his mind a new song had come, the Song of Evil, the music of the enemy, of any foe of the family, a savage,secret, dangerous melody, and underneath, the Song Of the Family cried plaintively’ (Steinbeck 3). When Kink hears the song, he automatically senses that something is wrong, and that is what alerted him that Coyotes was in trouble.
Another example of when Kink hears another bad song is the part in which he senses that something is wrong when he is talking with the priest of the church. “The priest said, ‘It is pleasant to see that your first thoughts are good thoughts. God bless you, my children. ‘ He (Kink) was glancing about suspiciously, for the evil song was in his ears, shrilling against the music of the pearl” (Steinbeck 14). As the story goes on, and things get worse and worse for Kink and his family, he starts to hear more and more songs; however, he only hears the bad ones, of threat and wickedness.
Eventually, near the end of the book, Kink goes insane from all the tragic events in his life. The songs help to express this. This is how he changes throughout the book. Kink also hears songs whenever he is perceiving deep emotion or feeling. Whether it is happy or not, he hears a song. When he is happy and with his loved ones, the song of the family rings in his ears. “Kink heard the creak of the rope when Juan took Coyotes out of his hanging box and cleaned him and hammock him in her shawl in a loop that placed him close to her areas.
Kink could see these things without looking at them. Juan sang softly an ancient song that had only three notes and yet endless variety of interval. And this was part of the family song too. It was all part. Sometimes it rose to an aching chord that caught the throat, saying this is safety, this is warmth, this is the Whole” (Steinbeck 2). Through the story, Kink’s feelings toward his blood changed, and he began to act irrationally with a whole new goal in mind; a goal of greed and selfishness. From family, he started hearing the
Song of Evil drum in his head through his ears, and he forgot to care about his loved ones. “Kink’s brain burned, even during his sleep, and he dreamed that Coyotes could read,that one of his own people could tell him the truth Of things. And in his dream, Coyotes was reading from a book And then darkness spread over the page, and with the darkness came the music of evil again, and Kink stirred in his sleep; and when he stirred, Sauna’s eyes opened in the darkness. And then Kink awakened, with the evil music pulsing in him, and he lay in the darkness with his ears alert (Steinbeck 28).
The evil changed his personality, and whilst evolving into a new being, he lost sight of his true priorities as leader of the family. Lastly, the entire motif of Kink’s songs originated from his oral culture and tradition. Kink grew up with his family, friends, neighbors, and his entire community making these melodies. Anything and everything seen, felt, or heard could become one. “He (Kink) alone did this and perhaps all of his people did it. His people had once been great makers of songs so that everything they saw or thought or did or heard came a song.
That was very long ago” (Steinbeck 1 As seen in the quote above, Kink has grown up with his mostly comforting songs all his life. “The songs remained; Kink knew them, but no new songs were added. That does not mean that there were no personal songs. In Kink’s head there was a song now, clear and soft, and if he had been able to speak of it, he would have called it the Song of the Family’ (Steinbeck 3). Ironically, this is what eventually turns into exactly the opposite of comforting. As Kinds personality changes, the songs change with him.