Islands in the Stream Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary

Ernest Hemingway

Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary

As Thomas Hudson showers, he reflects that he should have taken a swim first. He dresses and heads out, walking down the King’s Highway to the town. He encounters an old black man who is being taunted by a child from one of the roadside shacks.

A young boy hurries up the road and tells Thomas Hudson that a gentleman from a yacht is causing a disturbance at Mr. Bobby’s bar. The boy, Louis, had been working for the man and his wife, singing for them while they were supposedly fishing. The man’s wife is upset by her husband’s violent outbursts and has sent Louis to buy some conch pearls. Thomas Hudson thinks no one has ever liked conch pearls except Queen Mary of England, whose birthday is being celebrated that night.

Thomas Hudson enters the bar. The proprietor, Mr. Bobby, is looking terrible. All is quiet except for the sounds of a pool game. Louis delivers the pearls and returns. He says the lady looked at the pearls and started to cry. Mr. Bobby criticizes Thomas Hudson’s request for a drink. Thomas Hudson asks where his friend, Roger Davis, is. Mr. Bobby says he is eating with another friend, Johnny Goodner, and will be over later.

Mr. Bobby asks why Thomas Hudson stays on the island. He cannot understand why people pay good money for Thomas Hudson’s paintings of the simple people of the island. Mr. Bobby wants a picture of a waterspout, with him in a boat, to hang over the bar. Thomas Hudson, as a favor, will charge him for the canvas only. Mr. Bobby then says he wants an even larger picture of a hurricane. Thomas Hudson says that he’d better just start with the waterspout. Mr. Bobby then suggests a painting of the sinking of the Titanic. He says Thomas Hudson should concentrate on larger paintings and leave all the “chicken stuff” behind. He then tells Thomas Hudson that he should paint a painting to end them all—The End of the World. Mr. Bobby describes what all should be included, in intimate and graphic detail, with himself and Thomas Hudson standing calmly in the middle, oblivious to it all. Thomas Hudson tells him about Bosch and Brueghel, two artists who painted on the topic Mr. Bobby describes. Thomas Hudson and Mr. Bobby then drink to the health of Queen Mary on her birthday. Mr. Bobby tells Thomas Hudson that the island of Bimini is very patriotic despite its isolation.