Thursday, February 15, 2007

Lunchtime read: The Pearl

Everyone dreams of winning the lottery because of what they think the money will be able to do for them and their immediate family. But there is little thought for how other people will react.

A few years ago I was working up in Blackburn not long after a chemist won £17m on the lottery and the town was gripped by lottery fever. A colleague drove me round to his house, which he had abandoned as the ‘friends’ came calling to remind him how much they liked him, and pointed out that although he had won big his life had been altered forever. My colleague did not seem to think that was a bad thing but if he had read The Pearl he might have gained an insight into the anguish that comes with having a stoke of luck that sparks envy and greed.

Chapter Three
News of the pearl discovery spreads around town with everyone from the priest to the doctor dreaming of how they can exploit Kino’s good fortune – there is a particularly galling scene where the doctor dreams of Paris just a day after leaving Kino’s child to potentially die

Surrounded by family and friends Kino starts to talk about what he might do with the money that will come from the sale of the pearl and plans to marry his wife, something he had not been able to afford, and give his son an education

The priest, who ironically had refused to marry Kino because of money, turns up and reminds him of his responsibilities to the church and mentions that he will marry the couple Then the doctor arrives and insists that only he can heal the son and puts a tablet in his mouth then comes back an hour later claiming the cure is complete

Meanwhile Kino starts to realise that there are people who will do him harm and hides the pearl in the corner of the hut but feels unsure about it so moves it again but that night he is woken with a feeling of a closeness to evil and discovers someone is trying to steal the pearl

“And Juana, sitting by the fire hole, watched him with questioning eyes, and when he had buried the pearl she asked: ‘Who do you fear?’
Kino searched for a true answer, and at last he said: ‘Everyone.’ And he could feel a shell of hardness drawing over him.” Pg 42


His wife tells him to get rid of it but he refuses and announces he will sell it the next day because he knows that it will provide his son with an education that will take him out of poverty and into the magical world inhabited by those who can read and write

Chapter Four
Kino sets off to sell the pearl and is joined by a procession of neighbours but alongside him is his brother who warns him to be careful when agreeing a price with the dealers

Sure enough the dealers try to con him and in his anger Kino replies that he will go to the capital and get a better price but this threatens to undermine the whole structure of the pearl buying and selling business

That night after being warned by his brother that he is entering dangerous territory Kino is again attacked and slashed with a knife leading to another call from his wife to destroy the pearl but instead Kino resolves on his trip to the capital

More tomorrow...

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