Chapter 10 Summary
Jesus Maria Corcoran is known as a man with a soft heart. Pilon speculates that if Jesus Maria had gone into the church, there would then be a saint of Monterey.
Jesus Maria goes to the post office every day to look at the legs of all the girls who come in. He does not do this out of a sense of vulgarity but as an artist who appreciates beauty.
One day, he meets a sixteen-year-old boy who is carrying a baby. The boy explains that he is a corporal of the Mexican army and that the baby is his. He walked up from Mexico upon hearing that there were jobs in Monterey.
Tired, he sits down on the curb and is arrested by a policeman for vagrancy. He does not speak English, so Jesus Maria explains to the policeman that the boy is a friend of his and that he will take care of him.
Jesus Maria takes the boy to Danny’s house. The friends see that the baby is very sick and needs a doctor, but the corporal will not hear of it. The baby is very weak and does not eat, despite the friends’ best efforts. Pablo thinks that the baby is a result of the boy’s sleeping with some girl.
The corporal explains that he tells the baby, Manuel, several times a day that when he grows up, he will be a general. The boy says that during his journey north, he met a wise man who told him that if he told his baby often what he wanted him to do, the baby would grow up to do it.
The corporal tells the story of his journey. He had served in the Mexican army and worked to rise to the rank of corporal. He married a beautiful girl, and they had a baby soon after. The captain saw the boy’s wife and took her away. The boy tried to get her back but without success, so he took his baby and headed north.
The friends are impressed with this story of one so young. They all watch helplessly as the baby dies. Pilon tells the corporal that he himself must now take revenge on the captain. The boy says he has no plans to do so, and that is not why he wanted his son to grow up to be a general. He reasoned that if a captain could take a man’s wife, what could a general take? He wanted his son to have more than he himself had.
He decides he will now return to Mexico and rejoin the army. The friends are amazed at what a courageous young man he is.