The Pearl: Novel Summary: Chapter 3
As is the nature of small towns the news of Kino's discovery spreads quickly so that by the time Kino and Juana reach shore everyone has heard about the pearl. In town, the Priest hears the news and tries to remember if he married Kino and Juana in the church. The doctor hears of the pearl while sitting with a wealthy patient and claims that he is treating Kino's son for a scorpion bite. The beggars hear of the pearl and look forward to alms from Kino. The pearl buyers, all of whom work for the same man, know that Kino will bring the pearl to one of them and though they will only make their normal salary on the transaction each dreams of taking their boss' place. Indeed, the whole town comes to transfer their dreams and desires onto to Kino's pearl and to think of it as potentially their own with only Kino standing in the way. The narrator says that the news of the pearl "stirred up something infinitely black and evil in the town" and that the "poison sacs of the town began to manufacture venom, and the town swelled with the pressure of it."
Kino and Juana, meanwhile, are ignorant of the town's malignant desires. When the indians of the village come to see the pearl and admire its perfection Juan Tomas asks Kino what he will do when now that he is a rich man. Kino, looking into the pearl, replies that he and Juana will be married in the church, they will wear fine clothes and he will own a rifle. After Kino announces that he will have his own rifle, otherwise an impossible luxury for any indian of the village, he begins to dream of even greater things and realizes that his ultimate dream is that Coyotito go to school so that his son may learn to read and write and free his people from the cycle of poverty and exploitation in which they have been trapped for generations.
It is a noteworthy occasion and the villagers who are watching understand that whether Kino succeeds or fails to obtain riches and good fortune they will always remember the day that he found the pearl. Juana begins to make the fire for the family's evening meal but before the visitors leave their hut the Priest enters accompanied by the song of evil. The Priest has always treated the indians like children and Kino is suspicious of his motives when the Priest tries to gain Kino's favor by telling him that Kino is named after a great father of the Church. The Priest asks to see the pearl and, awed by its beauty, he asks that Kino and Juana remember to give thanks to God. Juana proudly tells the Priest that she and Kino will be married in the Church and the Priest blesses them before leaving.
While Juana prepares the beans for their evening meal, Kino steps outside the hut but he is immediately overcome by feelings of loneliness and vulnerability. He grasps the pearl tightly in his hand. He hears the song of the family coming from the kitchen but mixed with the song is the knowledge that since he has made a plan to send Coyotito to school he will have to struggle to make that plan reach fruition. At this point, the doctor arrives and pretends that he had always intended to treat the baby. Suspicious of the doctor's motives, Kino explains that Coyotito is feeling better but the doctor insists that the poison could return in the night and that only he, the doctor, can prevent the young one's death. Juana believes the doctor and Kino, crushed by his own ignorance, reluctantly lets the doctor treat Coyotito with a pill of white powder that Kino suspects is simply more poison. Before leaving, the doctor warns Kino that the poison from the scorpion will return within the hour.
The doctor returns to his comfortable home where he nibbles at dinner and waits for an hour to pass. Kino folds the pearl into a rag and buries it in the corner of the hut. In the estuary a school of big fish feed on small fish and the noise of the battle carries to the village. After Kino has eaten his beans Juana calls him over to look at Coyotito who is now very sick. The doctor returns and many of the village people crowd into the hut to see him do battle with the scorpion's poison. The doctor gives Coyotito some diluted ammonia solution and the baby's stomach spasms relent. Juana is thankful but Kino remains suspicious. The doctor, pretending not to know of Kino's pearl, asks how he will pay for Coyotito's treatment and after the villagers tell the doctor of the pearl the doctor offers to keep it in his safe. The doctor watches Kino's eyes which betray the pearl's hiding place when Kino refuses the doctors offer and claims that the pearl is secure. Kino tells the doctor he will pay him after he has sold the pearl in the morning. The doctor leaves.
Kino is restless and Juana watches him dig up the pearl and rebury it under his sleeping mat. Juana asks Kino whom he fears and Kino answers that he fears everyone. Kino, Juana and Coyotito lay down together to sleep and Kino dreams of his son in school but the dream turns to a nightmare and Kino awakes to the sound of someone digging inside the house. Kino lunges at the intruder with his knife but he is struck in the head and the intruder gets away. Juana cleans Kino's bleeding wound and sensing the hatred growing in her husband she insists that the pearl is evil and should be destroyed before it destroys the family. But Kino insists that after they sell the pearl everything will be better. It is near dawn and Kino removes the pearl from its hiding place. The contentment it brings Kino spreads to Juana and they are both happy and hopeful as the sun rises.
Now that Kino has brought the pearl to shore and claimed it his own the close ties that once made the small town safe and familiar to him now work to turn the people's greed against Kino. This is illustrated when he steps out into the evening and is filled with a sense of foreboding on the same spot that had that very morning filled him with contentment. He does not know specifically who his enemies are but, as he tells Juana, he fears everyone. This is a new feeling for Kino and is indicative of the manner in which the pearl brings not only the possibility of wealth but uncertainty and danger as well. The danger brought by the scorpion has been transferred to the people of the town and Steinbeck's direct comparison between the two furthers the sharp divisions between good and evil that marks the story as a parable.
The pearl causes Kino to dream of things, like the rifle or an education, that were outside his previous station. As a result, the dreams have brought danger into his life and begun change him. After Kino finishes listing the things he will do with the wealth derived from the pearl the narrator remarks that Kino "had never said so many words together in his life." Juana senses the change in her husband after the attack and though she can see the potential for evil in the pearl she too is beguiled by the previously unattainable luxuries, like medical care for her son, made possible by the pearl. Juana also betrays her own dreams and biases when she proudly tells the priest that she and Kino will be married in the church. Furthermore, because she was unable to trust in the healing power of the seaweed poultice she and Kino have been duped by the doctor and become indebted to him.
The doctor is revealed by his actions to be not only arrogant but duplicitous. The implication for the reader is that he is the force behind the night intruder. At the end of the chapter both Juana and Kino hope to exchange the pearl, which removed from nature has become an object of the town's greed and thus dangerous to them, for wealth that they believe will transform their family for the better