Let us remember that when Pauline Barlowe enters the novel, she is merely an unidentified woman who has been subject to a vicious attack and has landed in hospital. She was burned so badly because her common law husband, in a fit of rage, threw kerosene on her and this in turn set her on fire, causing her to experience third degree burns all over her body and face. The kerosene covered large parts of her body, meaning that if she survives this initial stage of treatment, she will have to face horrendous long-term medical procedures such as skin grafts and long-term therapy.
You might like to think about the way that Pauline Barlowe represents another character that is lost and found in the novel. This seems to apply to a number of characters, as not only has Pauline literally been lost to Dooley for a long period, and then suddenly springs back into her life, but also she has been "found" in the spiritual sense as she has embraced religion and rejected her alcoholism.