The unnamed Central American country is evoked in full sensory detail. The weather is hot and soon the rains will come, but at the moment it is “so dry it could scratch your lungs.” The wildlife is exotic: “Bright feathered birds screech, snakeskins glitter, as the jungle peels away. Iguanas the size of wallabies leap from behind macheted bushes.” The Spanish-speaking society depicted is strongly Catholic. Maria went to a convent school. The houseboy, Eduardo, has posters of saints on his bedroom walls. At the guerrilla camp, above the cot in the main shack, is a “sad, dark, plaster crucified Jesus.” In addition to being religious, the local people are strongly anti-American. They hate Americans even more than they hate the president of their own country.
Paradoxically, however, the Indian population seems saturated with American popular culture. They know all the Hollywood names and the names of the automakers in Detroit; they imitate the signs they see American baseball fans making on television, and they wear their Braves baseball caps. At the guerrillas’ rundown camp—a mere clearing in the jungle—sits a 1957 two-tone Plymouth with fins and chrome. It seems that the reach of American culture is ubiquitous. But the effects of the American presence are not presented as benign. In this respect, Ransome’s swimming pool is symbolic. He fills it with chemicals so toxic that if a toad falls into it, the water blisters its skin. Eduardo’s hysterical complaint about his employer, “He kills everything,” can be seen as a comment on the effects of the presence of the Americans.
Ira Mark Milne – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 24, Bharati Mukherjee, Published by Gale Group, 2006