Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Pearl: Chapter Summary 2

Kino and Juana walk slowly down the beach to Kino’s canoe, the one thing of value that he owns. The canoe is old, bought by Kino’s grandfather, and is the source of food for Kino. It is their most important possession, for “a man with a boat can guarantee a woman that she will eat something.” Coyotito still suffers from the scorpion bite: the swelling on his shoulder continues up his neck and his face is puffed and feverish. Juana makes a poultice from brown seaweed. This poultice is “as good a remedy as any and probably better than the doctor could have done.”

Kino and Juana get into the canoe so that Kino can find pearl oysters that may pay for the treatment for Coyotito. Kino dives for pearl oysters, where he thinks of the Song of the Pearl That Might Be and the Song of the Undersea. Kino works steadily under the water until he sees a large oyster lying by itself with its shell partly open, revealing what seems to be a massive pearl. Kino forces the oyster loose and holds it tightly against him.

When Kino comes up for air, Juana can sense his excitement. Kino opens the various oysters he had caught, leaving the largest one for last. He worries that the large pearl he saw was merely a reflection, for “in this Gulf of uncertain light there were more illusions than realities.” Finally, Kino opens the oyster to see a rich, perfectly curved pearl. Juana lifts the poultice of seaweed from Coyotito to see that the swelling has begun to recede. Kino puts back his head and howls, causing the men in other canoes to look up and race toward Kino’s canoe.

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