A High Wind in Jamaica

by Richard Hughes

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 208

A High Wind in Jamaica, by Richard Hughes, is the story of five British children, the Bas-Thorntons from Jamaica, who are abducted by pirates. The children are living with their parents on a sugar plantation when the island is hit by a severe hurricane and earthquake. At that time, their parents send them on a ship back to England so they can get an education in their homeland.

After pirates overtake the ship and abduct the children, the children’s experience with the pirates brings out their capability for cruelty. The pirates at first appear brutal and heartless, but the tides soon turn, and the children assume the roles of the pirates. Their experience with the pirates seems to have unleashed their primitive drives and tendencies for brutality, exploitation, and abuse. In the end, a young child named Emily, the main character, commits murder—and she commits it as savagely and heartlessly as if she had been a hardened criminal for years. The children’s earliest experiences on the pirate ship are frightening to them, but the pirates soon become frightened of the children. The children are transferred to another ship and eventually return to England. Emily testifies against the pirates in court, and the pirates are executed.

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