| Quote #1
So when I woke up there was much excitement in the city, which looks like a part of old Holland, except that all the houses are painted in soft colors, pinks and greens and blues, and there are no dikes. (1.3)
While the island of Curaçao is in the Caribbean, it was invaded by the Dutch in 1634. The Dutch restyled the island in their own image and turned it into a hub of the slave trade. The island is self-governing today, although it's still part of the "Kingdom of the Netherlands." (Learn more about the history of Curaçao here.)
| Quote #2
I had played there many times with Henrik and other boys when we were a few years younger, imagining we were defending Willemstad against pirates or even the British. They once stormed the island, I knew, long ago. Or sometimes we'd pretend we were the Dutch going out on raids against Spanish galleons. That had happened too. It was all so real that sometimes we could see the tall masted ships coming over the horizon. (1.9)
The island of Curaçao has always been a center of commerce – whether of oil or humans (slaves). That means lots of different cultures can be found mixing and mingling there, usually for purposes of trade or conquest. Henrik references the history of the island through his allusions to the British, the Dutch, and the Spanish, who invaded the island in 1499.
| Quote #3
It was very different in Virginia where my father had been in charge of building a new refinery on the banks of the Elizabeth River. We'd lived in a small white house on an acre of land with many trees. My mother often talked about the house and the trees; about the change of seasons and the friends she had there. She said it was nice and safe in Virginia. (1.50)
Phillip's mother idealizes Virginia as a place that's distant from everything she fears in Curaçao. In what ways, though, are the two places really similar?