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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 533

Fiskadoro, a boy almost thirteen years old, lives with his parents, Jimmy and Belinda, and younger siblings in a fishing village in Twicetown, Florida. He has a clarinet but does not know how to play it well. One night as he listening to the radio broadcast from Cuba—the only station they regularly receive—he is shocked to hear it playing something different: the old music that his mother, Belinda, dearly loves. The sounds remind him of racing motorcycles It is soon revealed that an American in Nawtha Nawlins had hijacked the broadcast.

It wasn’t the crying of tiny engines, it was the radio on the windowsill. The radio was playing Jimi Hendrix.

He trembled to hear the radio in the midnight playing things it never played. Purpa haze, all through MY BRAIN! . . . Jimi Hendrix on Cubaradio. He wanted to play along with it on his clarinet but he didn’t know the first thing about it. In the dark he took the instrument from the closet and fitted the pieces together as best he could and hummed through it with a choked voice . . .

Fiskadoro’s desire to learn clarinet connects him with a musician, Anthony Cheung. The clarinetist understands that much of the boy’s difficulty stems from lack of awareness of the relationship between a musician and their instrument. Although Fiskadoro’s initial efforts have not shown much promise, as he can only pick out a few notes, Cheung chooses to remain optimistic. His views on the boy’s musical potential suggest a metaphor for his continued growth as a person.

You never knew. Maybe inside the boy two wires were growing toward each other that would eventually make a connection for power.

Cheung’s optimism extends to an extreme, impractical vision of future rescue from the bleakness of their limited island existence. He reads fragments of old American documents, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Yet for Cheung, the spiritual dimensions of this rescue render it much closer to a biblical vision of salvation.

[T]he Quarantine won’t last forever. Everything we have, all we are, will meet its end, will be overcome, taken up, washed away. But everything came to an end before. Now it will happen again. Again and again.

Jimmy is later lost at sea, and Belinda cannot pull out of her grief. Fiskadoro, disheartened by his father’s death and its toll on his mother, also becomes disillusioned with the island’s restrictive lifestyle. After leaving town, he falls in with a group of swamp people; they claim an affiliation with Islam through a myth regarding a snake. They claim the snake instructed a man to seek a way to double his procreative power. Later he learns this means splitting the penis into the “two-headed snake.”

The man looked all day for the cave’s door and almost died of thirst before he found it. When he got outside he went to a stream and drank from it for half the night, and slept beside it for half the night. When he got up in the morning he opened his pants to relieve himself, and he found the two-headed snake there.

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