Hearn paints a colorful portrait of life in the marshy Gulf Coast city of New Orleans, focusing on a young girl adopted by a Spanish family.
hollow of heaven flames like the interior of a chalice, and waves and clouds are flying in one wild rout of broken gold,--you may see the tawny grasses all covered with something like husks,--wheat-colored husks,--large, flat, and disposed evenly along the lee-side of each swaying stalk, so as to present only their edges to the wind. But, if you approach, those pale husks all break open to display strange splendors of scarlet and seal-brown, with arabesque mottlings in white and black: they change into wondrous living blossoms, which detach themselves before your eyes and rise in air, and flutter away by thousands to settle down farther off, and turn into wheat-colored husks once more ... a whirling flower-drift of sleepy butterflies!
Southwest, across the pass, gleams beautiful Grande Isle: primitively a wilderness of palmetto (latanier);--then drained, diked, and cultivated by Spanish sugar-planters; and now familiar chiefly as a bathing-resort. Since the war the ocean reclaimed its own;--the cane-fi
Chita, which is short for Conchita(Spanish for girl), is the fictional tale about the actual hurricane that hit Last Island, Louisiana, in 1856. The storm razed a resort hotel and killed over 200 people. In the story, Chita – a 5-year-old girl, survives the storm and is adopted by a Spanish fisherman and his wife. Her father, who later returns to New Orleans, does not know she is still alive and spends his last days in sorrow.
Hearn writes with an ear for language, capturing the different cultures of New Orleans – Spanish, Anglo, French, Italian and Creole – with very authentic dialog. Chita is a simple story, focusing on a simple tragedy while showing how life adjusts to change. The little girl quickly grows into her new home. Going from the city to the fisherman’s cottage, her skin darkens, she becomes quiet and explorative, she learns to read the waters and understand the weather. Hearn’s prose are rich with these natural details that let the reader feel the heat, taste the brine, hear the immigrants, see the storm clouds forming and Chita should be read for this feature.