Last Island. Fashionable resort in the Gulf of Mexico that is devastated by the hurricane that kills Chita’s natural mother and leaves her adrift in the sea. Filled with well-to-do vacationers from New Orleans, the island has a hotel whose guests enjoy the beach, bathe in warm salt water, relish fine food and drink, dance to the music of well-paid orchestras, and flirt with one another pleasurably. Over pearly dawns and flaming wine-red sunsets is the comforting sky, sometimes divinely blue, often mysteriously luminous or sprinkled with stars. When the storm begins to lash the island, the wind is like a breath, then it howls with sand-filled fury. Water suddenly creeps over the polished dance floor. Lightning crackles. The sea heaves monstrously. In a flash, cottages and native dwellings, and the gorgeous hotel are scoured from the land. Trees and numberless bodies are scattered for a hundred miles along the coasts of the devouring sea.
*Gulf of Mexico
*Gulf of Mexico. Sea off the coast of Louisiana that is a combination of life and death, of beauty and horror. “If thou wouldst learn to pray, go to the sea,” readers are advised. Feliu Viosca, Chita’s foster father, says that the “world is like the sea: those who do not know how to swim in it are drowned.” Those who venture too far into the sea find its water turning colder and may be clutched and drawn in by treacherous undercurrents. However, when Feliu swims through dangerous breakers and rescues Chita, who is floating on a billiard table far from shore and still tied to her dead mother by a scarf, the ocean “lifts up its million hands, and thunders as if in acclaim.”
The gulf’s coastal environment contains both delights and horrors....
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