Chapter 2 Summary

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Chapter 2 opens with a view of the lovely ocean shore that borders the small brush home of Kino and Juana. The shore is teeming with a variety of animal life and vegetation. The couple approaches the beach and Kino studies his canoe, hand-crafted and maintained using a technique that his father taught him years ago. Kino’s ownership of this canoe is of vital importance because it provides him with the means of providing food for his family. As he prepares the canoe for its entrance into the water, Juana gathers seaweed and places it on Coyotito’s shoulder. The seaweed application is intended to ease the pain of the scorpion bite. Since the initial sting, the baby’s neck, ears, and face have become red and swollen, indicating the presence of venom in the baby’s body. Although the doctor has refused to treat the baby’s injury, Juana still has hope. The seaweed is a traditional remedy and she believes that it will have some positive effect. In addition, she prays that Kino will find a pearl that will be valuable enough to pay for the child’s medical treatment.

Kino and Juana place little Coyotito with them in the canoe and begin their day’s work. Kino dives into the water, gathering oysters in his basket. Of course, he hopes to find many valuable pearls, but he realizes that doing so is primarily a matter of chance. As he dives in search of the oysters, he hopefully reminds himself of the “Song of the Pearl That Might Be.” He has focused his hopes on the discovery of a priceless stone. Kino works steadily, concentrating simultaneously on gathering the oysters and reminding himself of the hopefulness of the song.

Kino’s concentration is broken by a large oyster that catches his eye. This oyster is separate from the clumps of smaller oysters and the shell is partially opened. Kino glimpses a radiant glow inside the partially opened shell and quickly grabs it. He returns to the surface, and Juana helps him into the boat. Kino is clearly excited by the possibility of a pearl in the large oyster, but he takes the time to retrieve his basket and his rock from the water before he opens any of the oysters. Once he has pulled his basket and rock into the boat, he decides to open a smaller oyster first, realizing that he may have seen only the gleam of the inner shell on the larger oyster. He wants to maintain his composure. When he discovers nothing inside the small oyster, he tosses it back into the ocean and prepares to open the larger one. With Juana’s encouragement, he overcomes his hesitation and opens it.

The pearl that lies inside the oyster shell is very large and very beautiful. Kino examines the stone carefully, finding no obvious deformities in either the shape or the color of the pearl. He begins to dream for his family’s future. Juana finds the pearl breathtaking. In her excitement, she remembers their little baby and the scorpion sting. When she removes the seaweed and examines the wound, she sees that the swelling in his shoulder is nearly gone. She tells her husband, and he screams a joyous scream that catches the attention of other seamen. The men in the other canoes scramble to move toward Kino’s boat.

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Chapter 3 Summary