What happened when the Indians attempted to market their pearls collectively?This question is from the novel The Pearl.

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schulzie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The problem the Indians have when they sell their pearls is that they do not know what rate the pearl buyers give in another city. They are at the mercy of the pearl buyers in their town. The pearl buyers in their city unite together. They offer basically the same amount for the pearls. The Indians have no way of knowing if they are being cheated. This has been going on for many years.  Before Kino was born, the Indians tried to avoid this issue by pooling their pearls and sending an agent into the capital to try to sell them. The idea was that he would sell them there, and then he was given a percentage of the profit for his time and effort.  The first man they sent was never heard from again, and the pearls were lost.  The same thing happened to the second man they sent.  So, they gave up and went back to the old way of selling their pearls. The priest makes a sermon every year about this.  He tells the Indians that

"each man and woman is like a soldier sent by God to guard some part of the castle of the Universe......each one must remain faithful to his post and must not go running about, else the castle is in danger from the assaults of Hell."  (pg 46)

 In other words, it is God's will that the Indians must yield to the authority of the pearl buyers.  The Indians have only learned one defense in the last four hundred years.  It is....

.."a slight slitting of the eyes and as light tightening of the lips and a retirement.  Nothing could break down this wall, and they could remain whole within the wall." (pg 46)