Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Most of Ana Lydia Vega’s work centers on her home island of Puerto Rico. “Cloud Cover Caribbean” continues the Caribbean theme but extends it to other islands. Haiti and the Dominican Republic are the two countries on a single island just northwest of Puerto Rico; Cuba is a much larger island northwest of Haiti, just eighty miles from the southernmost point of Key West, Florida.

For each of these would-be immigrants to Florida, the United States is the promised land. Like many refugees before them, they risk their lives on a fragile boat with inadequate supplies in hopes of making a new life. Antenor, the Haitian, puts his skiff to sea. Diogenes, the Dominican, has suffered a shipwreck and is rescued by Antenor. As he is pulled aboard, Diogenes tells Antenor, “Thanks, brother.” The narrator reports that each of the men spoke his own language, French or Spanish, but nonetheless communicated the same message, that he was leaving little behind, only suffering, death, and oppression by the church, the military, and even other civilians. Thus “they established an international brotherhood of hunger, a solidarity of dreams.” However, no sooner have they established this “brotherhood” than they rescue the Cuban, Carmelo. Allegiances soon shift to a new bond between the two Spanish speakers. Carmelo explains that he is leaving Cuba to escape the constant, day-and-night work at home, and Diogenes complains that in Santo Domingo, there is no work...

(The entire section is 527 words.)