Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

Pearl Cunningham Character Analysis

Pearl is one of Olive's coworkers at the pub, though she's much less content with her position than Olive is. Pearl is a widow about Olive's age with an eighteen-year-old daughter named Vera, and she hopes to marry Barney. She believes marriage will allow her to quit her job and lead a more "proper" life, as well as set a good example for Vera. Though Pearl accepts Olive's invitation to join her for the layoff season, she's skeptical of the entire arrangement: she sees the lifestyle as indecent and infinitely less desirable than marriage, and she fears that she's setting a terrible example for her daughter. Pearl also fails to see the charm and the fun in the layoff season activities, and becomes extremely offended when Olive silences her for voicing her opinions on the matter. Though Pearl is wary of becoming involved with Barney, she does eventually agree to stay for the season and have a relationship with him. She believes Barney is desperately in need of marriage and seeks to reform him and his relationships with his children. Pearl never fully grasps the significance of the layoff season to Barney, Roo, and Olive, and when she points out how shabby something is or how much fun they didn't have, she seems not to notice when it makes the others sad. The last straw for Pearl comes when Barney asks her if Vera can accompany Johnnie Dowd to the races. This causes her to reassume what Barney terms her "protective mother" guise, call things off with Barney, and leave Emma's house before the end of the season.

Pearl Cunningham Quotes in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll quotes below are all either spoken by Pearl Cunningham or refer to Pearl Cunningham. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Youth, Maturity, and Growing Up Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Samuel French, Inc. edition of Summer of the Seventeenth Doll published in 2011.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

That's what the lay-off is. Not just playing around and spending a lot of money, but a time for livin'. You think I haven't sized that up against what other women have? I laugh at them every time they try to tell me. Even waiting for Roo to get back is more exciting than anything they've got.

Related Characters: Olive Leech (speaker), Roo Webber, Pearl Cunningham, Barney Ibbot
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
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All round would be the regulars—soft city blokes...and then in would come Roo and Barney. They wouldn't say anything...there'd just be the two of them walkin' in, then a kind of wait for a second or two, and quiet. After that, without a word, the regulars'd stand side to let 'em through, just as if they was a—a coupla kings. She always reckoned they made the rest of the mob look like a bunch of skinned rabbits.

Related Characters: Olive Leech (speaker), Roo Webber, Pearl Cunningham, Barney Ibbot, Nancy
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

But the ordinary bloke's got a way out, he can get married. There's always been a sorta reason why I never could—

Related Characters: Barney Ibbot (speaker), Pearl Cunningham
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

Y'know, it's a funny thing. All the wimmen I've ever knocked around with, there's never been one of them ever knitted anything for me. Now, why d'yer reckon that is?

Related Characters: Barney Ibbot (speaker), Pearl Cunningham
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:
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The way you went on about everythin'—sounded just as if when they arrived, the whole town was gunna go up like a balloon.

Related Characters: Pearl Cunningham (speaker), Roo Webber, Olive Leech, Barney Ibbot
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

I started off trying to fix up what they broke. After that, I couldn't seem to stop. Emma always sez tryin' to shift heavy furniture on your own's a sign you're crooked on the world. Wonder what spring cleanin' at two o'clock in the morning means?

Related Characters: Olive Leech (speaker), Pearl Cunningham, Emma Leech
Related Symbols: Kewpie Dolls
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
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All right. But the least you can do is to see what you've got as it really is. Take a look at this place now you've pulled down the decorations—what's so wonderful about it? Nothing! It's just an ordinary little room that's a hell of a lot the worse for the wear. And if you'd only come out of your day dream long enough to take a grown up look at the lay off, that's what you'd find with the rest of it.

Related Characters: Pearl Cunningham (speaker), Olive Leech
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
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And it's more than looking—it's havin' another woman walking around knowin' your inside and sorry for you 'coz she thinks you've never been within cooee of the real thing. That's what hurts. It was all true, everythin' I told her was true, an'—and she didn't see any of it.

Related Characters: Olive Leech (speaker), Roo Webber, Pearl Cunningham
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:
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Pearl Cunningham Character Timeline in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll

The timeline below shows where the character Pearl Cunningham appears in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
Youth, Maturity, and Growing Up Theme Icon
...busy tying ribbon onto walking stick candies (candy canes) in a decorated living room while Pearl, an older woman dressed in her "good black" dress, sits on the sofa, smokes, and... (full context)
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Bubba smiles nervously at Pearl and explains that Olive always gets nervous, and that she and Nancy always had to... (full context)
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...down. She swishes into the room in a pretty green and white dress and asks Pearl and Bubba what they think. Eager for a new topic of conversation, Bubba hastily compliments... (full context)
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Olive says fondly that Bubba is a good kid, and Pearl says that Bubba isn't as innocent as she seems. Olive is somewhat surprised, but insists... (full context)
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Olive begins laughing and calls Pearl a "cautious Kate" when she notices that Pearl's suitcases are still sitting by the stairs.... (full context)
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Pearl is unimpressed. She remarks on the close way that Barney is holding Nancy in the... (full context)
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...get married was a mistake, even if there was no hope of ever marrying Barney. Pearl says that it's likely Barney didn't marry Nancy because Nancy probably made herself “cheap.” Pearl... (full context)
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...arms full of cold beer bottles. Olive helps her set them on the table, despite Pearl's insistence that they'll leave water rings. Olive asks Bubba if she's done her walking sticks.... (full context)
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...is, since she was supposed to have been home from her community choir long ago. Pearl checks her watch and is alarmed to find it's after 6:00pm. Olive wonders if her... (full context)
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...photograph of Roo. She declares that he has the handsomest mouth in the world. As Pearl inspects her makeup, she says that Roo looks like a better prospect than "the other... (full context)
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Pearl asks why people call Barney Barney. Olive isn't sure, but says his real name is... (full context)
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Pearl insists that she won't hate Barney, but she's not getting involved in a "nasty mess"... (full context)
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Olive loudly continues that Pearl keeps making the layoff season sound dirty and low. Pearl insists that it's not decent—marriage... (full context)
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Pearl says she isn't sure how the summer is going to go if she can't voice... (full context)
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Olive sighs about Nancy, and Pearl asks if Nancy got what she wanted. Olive says she'd like to ask Nancy if... (full context)
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...and lets them in. When Roo enters, Olive steps into his arms and they kiss. Pearl watches Barney and Emma apprehensively as Barney lets Emma down. Barney tells Emma to stop... (full context)
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Olive turns towards Pearl and Barney and asks if they've met, and Barney shares that he's introduced himself to... (full context)
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Barney hugs Olive and calls her his favorite barmaid, and Olive jokingly explains that Pearl works at the same bar as she does. Barney sits happily next to Pearl and... (full context)
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...own and not Barney's. Roo heads upstairs and Olive gives Barney a telegram. Olive asks Pearl to go check on Emma and the salad, and Barney sighs and says the telegram... (full context)
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...it tomorrow. He suggests they open beer, and Olive giggles and explains that she and Pearl already started drinking. Roo and Olive start laughing, and Roo turns on the radio. They... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...room and finds Roo collecting Barney's empty beer bottles from the verandah. Olive says that Pearl didn't like Barney's drinking, and Roo says he doesn't think that Pearl and Barney will... (full context)
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Roo says that everyone knows as much—they all heard Barney banging on Pearl's door in the night, and Pearl wasn't impressed. Roo throws the envelope at Barney and... (full context)
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...punch Barney. Olive bursts in as Roo huffily heads upstairs. Olive says that she and Pearl have to leave, but she's convinced Pearl to speak to Barney before they do. Olive... (full context)
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...Olive is even more shocked, and then angry. She bustles upstairs, yelling for Roo, as Pearl heads downstairs. Pearl hesitantly calls Barney's attention and asks to talk to him. Barney seems... (full context)
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Pearl again tries to begin the real conversation, but Barney insists that she sit. Pearl seems... (full context)
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...a beautiful woman, he feels as though he's just received a birthday present. This makes Pearl even angrier, and she says that doesn't give him the right to have kids everywhere.... (full context)
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Pearl insists that Barney could've done something, but can't come up with what. Barney continues his... (full context)
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Pearl isn't amused by Barney calling himself "lucky," but Barney explains that only a special kind... (full context)
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...that he is. Barney curses as Roo walks in, half dressed, and offers to walk Pearl and Olive to the tram. Roo says his goodbyes to Barney, who acts offended. When... (full context)
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Pearl comes breathlessly back down the stairs with her hat and purse. Pearl tells Barney she's... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...is assembled in the living room on New Year's Eve. Barney is writing a letter, Pearl is knitting, and Olive is playing cards with Roo. They can hear children playing outside... (full context)
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...the verandah are full of mosquitos, and Barney suggests they all go to the beach. Pearl deems it too late, but Barney notes that even children are playing outside at 11:30pm.... (full context)
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Pearl calls Barney to her to test the length of the sweater sleeve she's working on.... (full context)
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...still try to go visit the Morrises. Barney looks hopeful, but Olive shuts her down. Pearl asks who the Morrises are, but everyone else ignores her as they say goodbye to... (full context)
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Pearl asks again who the Morrises are, trying to sound casual. Olive shuffles cards and explains... (full context)
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Pearl happily says that some women don't want to knit a sweater for an "eagle," which... (full context)
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...and says that the eagle analogy fit in with what the man was saying, but Pearl keeps giggling and tells Roo and Barney that she had no idea what to expect... (full context)
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Olive throws her cards down and tells Pearl to stop making her out to be a liar. Pearl is surprised and says she... (full context)
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...take it seriously. She sits, massages her fingers, and calls the others to their feet. Pearl asks if she has to join, and Emma insists she does before announcing the first... (full context)
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...few times and tells the others to try again. The second time is better, though Pearl doesn't sing and just stares incredulously at the others. After a few lines, Emma stops... (full context)
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...tense situation, Barney suggests they open some beer. Olive jumps on the idea and calls Pearl to the kitchen to help her make snacks. (full context)
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...pick grapes. Roo is incredulous that Barney is suggesting they walk out on Olive and Pearl, but Barney says that this year hasn't been much fun without Nancy anyway. Disgusted, Roo... (full context)
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...him to get a job. They begin to argue again when they hear Olive and Pearl coming with trays. (full context)
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Olive and Pearl enter with plates of sandwiches and snacks, and Olive cheerfully notes that they have time... (full context)
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...didn't go out. Barney raises a toast to happy days and glamorous nights, which makes Pearl choke on her beer. She starts laughing as the others look at her curiously, and... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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...verandah. He has ahold of Emma's apron and asks her loudly for a kiss while Pearl and Johnnie try to control him. When Barney lunges at Emma, she breaks free and... (full context)
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...shake hands. Roo grudgingly accepts, which excites Barney. In his excitement Barney turns to kiss Pearl and Pearl, disgusted, runs upstairs. When Barney starts talking again, Johnnie roughly tells him to... (full context)
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...group. When Johnnie says that Roo won't talk in that situation, Barney suggests they take Pearl and Olive. When Johnnie notes the women's age, Barney assures him that they'll find someone... (full context)
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When Pearl enters the living room, Barney reintroduces her to Johnnie. She steps past them to sit... (full context)
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Pearl asks if Johnnie will be going without a date. Barney begins to say that Johnnie... (full context)
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Amazed, Barney reminds Pearl that she'd be there to supervise Vera. Johnnie tries to diffuse the situation, as Barney... (full context)
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...the living room dragging a surprised Bubba with him. Johnnie tries to tell Barney that Pearl is upset, but Barney tells him to forget about Pearl. He introduces Johnnie and Bubba,... (full context)
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...from him and tells him to not make things worse, since Emma is upset and Pearl is crying. (full context)
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Roo asks why Pearl is crying, and Olive says she's not sure, but it's something about Barney asking her... (full context)
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...fight. Olive and Emma run in and try to separate the men as Bubba and Pearl look on. Olive finally screams and the men break apart. She helps Roo to a... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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The next morning, Pearl stands in the living room dressed in black again, waiting sadly for a taxi. Olive... (full context)
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Pearl asks when Barney will be back. Olive answers that if she knows Barney, he's guaranteed... (full context)
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Olive approaches Pearl and says stonily that everything she ever said about Roo and Barney was the truth,... (full context)
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Olive tells Barney that he's just in time to say goodbye to Pearl, and Barney replies that he thought Pearl might be on her way. Pearl and Barney... (full context)
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Pearl asks Barney where he's been, but Barney insists that only a wife can ask that... (full context)
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Barney looks confused and says that when it comes down to it, Pearl is leaving for the same reason Nancy did. He says that Nancy left to get... (full context)
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Pearl begins to ask Barney a question, and a horn honks outside. Barney leans out the... (full context)
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Olive and Pearl say goodbye, and Pearl reminds Olive to tell their boss that she won't be in... (full context)
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Roo sits on the piano stool and Emma picks up Pearl's cup and saucer. Seeing how moody Roo looks, she tells him to not let Olive... (full context)
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...just Olive who's suffering after the fight. Olive asks Barney if he's upset after losing Pearl. The three speak over each other, Olive catches that someone is leaving on Monday, and... (full context)
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...Olive insists she feels low and cheap after what's happened this summer. She says that Pearl made her feel that way. Roo is disgusted at this, but Olive says that she... (full context)