Chapter 3 Summary

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Even before Kino and Juana reach the shore, the tidings of their discovery have spread throughout the village and surrounding town. The news is broadcast to everyone, including the priest, the beggars, and the doctor who refused to treat Coyotito’s injury. They all imagine the benefits that the pearl will bring to them. The priest imagines that he might be able to make repairs to the church. The beggars speculate that they could receive special contributions from a man who, until very recently, lived in poverty. Even the doctor boasts that the infant is his patient.

Perhaps the most eager sharers in Kino’s news are town’s pearl buyers. They anticipated Kino’s desire to sell the pearl and await the opportunity to defraud him of its value. These buyers have traditionally conspired to cheat poor pearl divers by offering the lowest possible estimates for the pearls they bring in for appraisal. The mere thought of Kino’s pearl was enough to engender serious deliberation among the pearl buyers, who were in fact only agents. Although they professed to be competitors, they were all employees of a single man who was the only actual pearl buyer in the region.

Kino’s great pearl engenders a dream of material prosperity in nearly all of the townspeople. In fact, they begin to imagine that all of their worldly prospects depend entirely on Kino’s generosity. Consequently, they bless or curse him, depending on whether they believe Kino will respond to their requests charitably or negligently.

Unaware of these speculations, Kino and Juana return to their small brush home, surrounded by friends and neighbors. Juana sits patiently as Kino expresses their family’s aspirations, including a church wedding, fine clothes, a rifle, and a formal education for little Coyotito. As the neighbors marvel at Kino’s plans, the priest pays an unexpected visit to the family. After offering flattering remarks to Kino regarding the origin of his name, he encourages them to give generously to the church as a means of showing gratitude for the pearl. Kino does not offer a ready reply to this request, but Juana does. She reassures him that they will be formally married and that they will not forget to give generously to the church.

The priest departs along with the horde of neighbors. Then the doctor arrives. Kino is immediately filled with fear and loathing for the man. However, the doctor suggests that scorpion stings can deceptively appear to heal while the poison still courses through the body. Kino is skeptical, but he does not want to risk his son’s health so he permits the doctor to treat Coyotito’s wound. Juana reluctantly allows him to hold the child; he gives Coyotito a capsule of white powder, which further arouses Kino’s suspicion. An hour after the doctor leaves, Coyotito becomes ill. Kino sends for the doctor, who returns and gives him more medicine. Coyotito falls asleep quickly.

Once the baby falls asleep, the doctor requests payment, pretending to be unaware of Kino’s extraordinary find. Kino informs him that he will pay as soon as he sells his pearl. The doctor attempts to entice Kino into allowing him to place the pearl in his personal safe so it will be secure from thieves. When Kino refuses his offer, the doctor watches Kino’s eyes until they land on the spot inside the little hut where Kino has buried the pearl. After the doctor leaves, Kino unearths the pearl and buries it in another location.

Shortly after the family retires for the night, Kino battles an intruder who has entered the house to steal the pearl. Kino wounds the intruder with his knife. Juana is desperate and frightened and begs him to throw the pearl back into the ocean. She believes that it has become a malevolent force in their lives and will ultimately destroy them. Kino insists that the pearl will enable them to realize their dreams. He reminds her that he will sell the pearl the next day and they will be free of it.

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