Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
The title suggests a story that treats life in the Caribbean island of Barbados, perhaps on the microcosmic scale that suits the scope of the short story. However, the main character, Mr. Watford, deliberately lives far outside the mainstream of Barbadian society. He lives alone in an ostentatious plantation house with stone walls, large windows, and a columned portico, which is set far back from the gate that separates it from the crude wooden houses of the village. He tries to live like a white man. His house is an emblem of such a life, with size and pretense, with its furniture from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and its enormous parlor, where in the evenings he reads the newspapers from Boston. He is pleased when the boy who comes to order coconuts for Mr. Goodman shows him deferential gestures usually reserved for whites. Although he worked in a Boston hospital until he retired at sixty-five and although he has kept his American accent, furniture, and newspapers, he had been as detached from American life as he is from life in Barbados, the homeland to which he returned to buy his plantation and live five years before the story begins.
Alone, he works his five hundred trees all day, from dawn to dusk. At seventy, his vigor is fading, though he works ever harder to deny it, driving his body to perform as it did when he was much younger. His lean body is filled with tension, as if he could clench into himself all of his strength and prevent himself from...
(The entire section is 1146 words.)
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