In the "Miami, Florida" chapter, the main conflict is person versus person. The character's main conflict is that he can't find lasting peace in society, no matter where he goes. Inevitably, arguments, anger, noise, and power struggles would mar any semblance of tranquility in his surroundings.
The character remembers that there were many conflicts during his childhood. He remembers how his neighbors disagreed with each other about Puerto Rico's future. Some wanted Puerto Rico to stay independent, while others wanted it to gain statehood. He remembers that "all were fighting against each other."
When his family moved to the United States, matters didn't improve. There, the main character had a terrible time adjusting in school. He had daily conflicts with his teachers and was eventually sent to a school for developmentally delayed children.
The main character remembers thinking that things would improve after he married Constancia. However, things didn't change. Their first baby died, and soon, Constancia's grandparents and his cousin moved in with them. Eventually, there were five babies in the house. There were always loud music and equally loud arguments every day.
Overwhelmed, the main character decides to take a drive out of Miami one day.
He eventually ends up at a beach. There, he walks to the end of a pier, and this is where he comes across Brent's whirligig. The whirligig, of course, is made out of wood and consists of a marching band. The marching band includes a trumpet, a trombone, a clarinet, and drums.
The whirligig makes a distinct impression on the main character. He begins to realize that seclusion isn't a good solution and that conflict is part of life. People belong in groups, and there will always be disagreements in any group. At the same time, groups of people can make and create beautiful things together, such as good music, tools, and buildings.
Brent's whirligig helps the main character accept the complexities of life.
We don’t know the real name of the main character in this chapter. He’s originally from Puerto Rico, and people call him Flaco because he is skinny. He feels the frustrations and stresses of his personal life. He has to provide for his wife and young son; and yet, he’s just lost his job. He’s already lost a daughter, who died of a health problem when she was only one year old. His wife is taking care of other people’s children, and the house is noisy. Flaco goes for a drive across Florida to clear his head, from Miami to Tampa. There he sees Brent’s whirligig of marching band characters. He thinks about the tendency of people to gather into groups, into families. If they get along, they make good music. Flaco goes back home, a bit more satisfied. He later gets a job as a street sweeper and feels better about his situation.