Student Question

In John Steinbeck's "The Pearl", what did Juana apply to the baby's swollen shoulder?

Expert Answers

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She makes a "poultice" out of seaweed.  Here is the modern definition of poultice from : a soft usually heated and sometimes medicated mass spread on cloth and applied to sores or other lesions.  Today's usage of the word is used to indicate a cloth compress with medicine on it that is used to relieve pain from an injury, and this is exactly how Juana uses it--she uses seaweed though instead of a cloth.  Seaweed is STILL thought to have medicinal properties and it is STILL used to heal wounds, improve skin quality and relieve aches and pains! In fact, there are websites where you can order poultices made of seaweed! So, Juana used seaweed because she could not afford the expensive treatment from the doctor, but little did she know she was using a remedy that now wealthy people seek out to fix what ails them!

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