(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Prophet from Jupiter” is a first-person narration in which the dam keeper of a lake created when a small town was flooded intermingles incidents from his own life with a selective historical recounting of the lake’s effect on the region. It begins with a topographical description of the lake, establishing the location of the dam keeper’s house just above the lake shore, a perimeter encircled by homes on small lots that are occupied primarily by tourists and visitors.

As the dam keeper explains that his primary concern is to maintain the lake at a constant level, he introduces some of the people whose presence defines the character of the community, including Archie Simpson, a real estate developer from Jupiter, Florida, whose “message” from God has transformed him into a “prophet,” and Junie Wilson, an African American who wanders through the neighborhood with no apparent purpose or direction, but according to Archie Simpson, has “the gift of true sight.”

The dam keeper’s account is directed toward an explanation of why he plans to leave the area, centered on the deterioration of his marriage and his sense that the entire region is permeated with a kind of curse stemming from the decision in 1927 to destroy Uree, the town that was flooded to form the lake. His separation from his wife, Elisabeth, now pregnant with the child of the new police chief, parallels the disconnection of many people in the area from their surroundings. He enjoys fishing with his only friend, Randy, the assistant dam keeper, but recognizes their fundamental differences. Randy is sensible and practical in a way...

(The entire section is 667 words.)