Previously on Save the Pearls: Eden rode on Bramford’s shoulders while he ran back to his Huaorani friends. Nothing happened except more awkward eroticism and hostility between our leads.
So Chapter 19 begins a few hours after where chapter 18 left off. Eden is super tired. But not too tired to recall the obscure scientific names of jungle-dwelling fauna, as she hears the call of the great tinamou, or Tinamus Major:
It was a nocturnal bird, which meant twenty-four hours had passed since she had left home.
Good god. First, I’d like to point out that Eden could have been able to tell that it was nearing sundown by the fact that the sun would be going down, thus altering the light and everything. Second, it’s been only 24 hours? Eden says that it feels more like a lifetime, and I have to agree. Maybe it’s because I took a couple month-long hiatuses (hiati?) but it does feel like it should have been more than that.
But fortunately for Eden, she and Bramford appear to be approaching a settlement, because he finds a small path. This leads to a small clearing, and Eden is able to witness her first sunset. She waxes poetic about how it’s beautiful, and it makes her feel “humbled by its perfection, though not in a submissive way”?
Because if something so beautiful existed in the world, the maybe some part of her also held such beauty
I’d talk about how that makes no sense, but Eden’s delirious so whatever. I’ll let her have this one.
But then, a “young Indian woman” appears! Eden is delighted, thinks that it’s a “lucky coincidence,” and hopes that she’ll get some water and food soon.
The woman greets them by saying “hola.” If you’ll remember, this Amazonian tribe speaks Spanish fluently.
“Hola, Maria,” Bramford replied.”
So not only do they speak Spanish; they also have Spanish names! The most stereotypical Spanish names possible!
Maria wore the distinctive bowl-shaped haircut of the Huaorani. A strip of bark-like cloth hung around her wide hips. Her headdress of bright feathers and yellow Oncidium orchids seemed to contrast with her plain voice and mild demeanor.
I don’t know what the fuck the Huaorani wear, but I feel like if they’re speaking Spanish and giving their kids Spanish names, they’re probably not wearing traditional headresses and “bark-like” cloth.
“El Tigre es bienvenido a esta casa”
Which means “The Tiger is welcome in our house” if you don’t know literally any Spanish and don’t feel like googling. Again, if you recall, the Huaorani think that Bramford is the long-awaited Jaguar Man of Aztec legend (none of which makes any sense at all). Bramford thanks her, but then Maria looks uncomfortable when she sees Eden.
If you’ve been missing a plot, well, now we kind of get one! Eden thinks it’s because she’s not wearing her Blackface makeup. But as Maria leads her and Bramford through a gate and onto a “orderly compound”, Bramford begins to head towards the largest hut.
So Bramford has been here before. Eden thinks he seems familiar with the compound, and is amazed that he hasn’t slapped his name on everything. Eden surveys the rest of the huts: one has no door that she can see, and another looks run-down and overgrown with weeds. She wonders if it’s a prison, and gets all anxious.
But then two little girls (“naked, but for the flowers in their hair”) run out to greet them. A parrot flies after them, and Eden is shocked that it might be a pet. They say hi to Bramford, who says hi back, and then Maria tells them that he’s El Tigre. This excites them.
But then the girls see Eden, and the plot thickens:
“Rebecca,” the older one said, the color draining from her face.
Oh, and Eden is still on Bramford’s shoulders at this point. She feels him get tense.
The little girls say “Rebecca” again, and Eden wonders what it could mean.
Did they mean her? Was it the native name for some white-skinned animal? Whatever the reason, Eden understood that she terrified them. Not beastly Bramford. Just the ugly Pearl.
Because *everything* is about race with Eden. I get that she’s been an oppressed underclass all her life, but jesus fuck, she can’t go a pages without saying something self-loathing.
The girls say “Rebecca!” over and over, which agitates Bramford. He starts shaking, and then roars. He drops Eden into a vegetable garden. Maria tells off the kids is “a dialect Eden didn’t recognize” which I guess means the Huaorani language *is* a thing that exists in this book? Whatever. The girls keep saying Rebecca, and the parrot squacks, and Bramford keeps roaring.
Eden asks Bramford who Rebecca is. Bramford crouches menacingly, and glares.
The name had struck a neve in him. If she said it again, he might make her pay. He might grab her with those big, rough hands and pin her down.
Wow. It sure sounds like that’s something she’d like to avoid.
But Eden “can’t help herself.”
“For Earth’s sake, Bramford. What did you do to this Rebecca to make the children so afraid?”
Could she possibly ask who Rebecca is in a more inflammatory way? Does Victoria Foyt seriously think that Eden is remotely sympathetic? Who writes this?
“Just as she feared”, Bramford jumps on her, and while you might think this would make her happy, she is not! Instead, she screams in terror. Bramford throws her over his shoulder, and then runs towards the “prison hut”. Eden screams that he can’t do this to her, and Bramford says oh yes he can. Eden starts hitting Bramford, and says more provocative things:
“Is this where you lock up your victims? You’re an animal, Bramford.”
And, I mean, Bramford hasn’t exactly been the most gentle tour guide, but christ, Eden does not understand de-escalation at all.
Bramford tells her that she’s done enough, and pushes her into the hut. First, though, he throws “a handful of nuts and berries on the floor.” So I guess he was stealthily harvesting them as they ran, or something. I don’t know.
Oh and as an aside, the “prison hut” is supposed to be worn down and overgrown. Wouldn’t you want your holding cell to be well-maintained? God dammit.
But its condition must be good enough, because Bramford locks her into the hut, leaving her to cry for help. Meanwhile, the little girls are still calling out “Rebecca!” over and over.
Just like at the lab, Bramford had confined her to her quarters.
In case you’ve forgotten what Eden’s talking about here, she’s referencing that time she got put on probation at work and was officially not allowed out. If you recall, it was later revealed that Bramford had suspended her for her own good, as she was supposed to be safe at her apartment while FFP drama was going down at the lab. In-book, this took place literally a little bit more than a day ago, so Eden’s memory is actually the worst.
Anyway, Eden keeps thinking about how Bramford’s the beast and how he should be the one locked up, and then she starts to cry for the first time ever. We’re told that even when her mom died she didn’t cry, because she had her Oxy. But then she thinks about how her mom knew about how evil Big Pharma is, and recalls how on her deathbed, her mother refused the Oxy-drip.
We learn that her dying mother’s tears had “embarassed” Eden (isn’t she a peach!). Eden remembers how her father “hadn’t hid his displeasure,” and spent all his time in the lab. I’d like to point out that it’s a completely valid reading to assume that her father was displeased because his wife was dying, and spent his time at the lab trying to discover a cure, but this never occurs to Eden. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to believe her interpretation or not.
We’re still in flashback mode, as Eden remembers her mother smiling despite the pain, and explain how she had hope for the afterlife. Eden’s response was this:
Years earlier, Eden had undergone the mandatory death experience and knew to expect only a calm black void..
Mandatory death experience. If you don’t believe in any sort of afterlife, I’d like to point out that “death experience” is a contradiction, because being dead would be the end of experience, rather than “a calm black void.”
But Eden’s mom is feeling hopeful and expresses it via, you guessed it, an Emily Dickinson poem!
‘Hope is the ting with feathers/ That perches in the soul, /And sings the tune without the words, / And never stops at all.’
Eden doesn’t get it:
Nonsense, Eden now thought, brushing away her tears. For example, to which species of bird did Aunt Emily refer?
*makes CinemaSins ding noise*
OK, so I honestly can’t tell if Eden’s just being stupid on purpose, or if she legitimately doesn’t understand poetry. I’m inclined to assume the former, since she seems to really like most of Emily Dickinson’s poetry to the point where she’s memorized it and uses it to understand her world. So is this supposed to just be a situational rejection of “Aunt Emily?” I’m really confused.
But then Eden starts thinking about Bramford and how sexy he is. She wants him to touch her again, and wants to hear his “sensual purring”.
Could a little bird called hope possibly sing for her?
It’s such a shitty, saccharine line, but if it means that Eden will be less intolerable, I’ll fucking take it. So let’s take bets: will Eden become less antagonistic about towards the people around her? Will she try to be more positive, and make an effort to get along with Bramford better? It sure seems like she wants to make a change somehow.
Also, she realizes that Bramford has magnanimously left her some food, which I assume is the “handful of nuts and berries” he threw on the floor at her a few pages ago.
It suggested that his mind was still more powerful than his raw emotions.
Umm, OK? I would say that it suggests that he’s, you know, still aware that she’s gonna need to eat, but come on. He didn’t exactly pack her a nice little balanced lunch. It seems like he gets pretty emotional, what with the pinning Eden to the ground and throwing her in the Time-Out-Shack.
But for some reason, this makes Eden think that she can use Logic and Reason ™ to “tame the primative creature”.
No matter how wild he became, she would remain cool and objective. She wouldn’t give in to the base emotions that threatened to swamp her logic.
As much as I would love for Eden to experience some character growth, I can say with certainty that the odds that she follows through on this are precisely zero.
And that’s the end of the chapter!