(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Cloud Cover Caribbean” is told by a third-person omniscient narrator. It is September, hurricane season in the Caribbean, and Antenor has been on the open sea in a makeshift vessel for two days. He has not seen anything or anyone since he left his home island of Haiti. He unexpectedly hears Spanish being spoken and helps a shipwrecked man from the Dominican Republic aboard his little boat, which nearly tips over with the additional weight. Antenor cautiously shares the water from his canteen with the newcomer. Though Antenor speaks French, and Diogenes, the Dominican, speaks Spanish, they share an amiable conversation anyway. Neither can understand the other completely, but they pass the time by telling each other what they are leaving behind and what they are seeking.

Suddenly they hear shouts and see a curly-haired Cuban bobbing among the waves. Though Diogenes and Antenor hesitate to take yet another passenger on the little skiff (there is only one canteen of water to share), they are unable to resist his cries for help, and they pull the Cuban aboard. Once again the boat nearly capsizes. Carmelo, the Cuban, and Diogenes, the Dominican, both speak Spanish and soon marginalize the French-speaking Haitian, who sits on the only box in the boat, resenting “the monopoly the language of Cervantes was enjoying in a vessel . . . sailing under the Haitian flag.”

Carmelo smells tobacco and rum and quickly deduces that Antenor must be...

(The entire section is 508 words.)