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High Wind in Jamaica

             The character of Emily Thornton in A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes is not a typical 10-year-old English girl. Though in many ways she resembles a normal child, Emily's mentality and the personal world she dwells in go beyond the average stereotype. Her desire for excitement, adventure, danger, and the extraordinary limit her to accept only experiences worthy of such descriptions as valid lifetime achievements. This can be demonstrated by analyzing her incident with an alligator.
             The young protagonist by this part of the story has already survived an earthquake, a horrendous tropical storm, the death of her favorite pet, a pirate kidnapping, and witnessed human death. Though all of these occurrences may be considered significant life events for a 10-year-old girl, Emily felt that only the earthquake should merit such an accolade. In fact, after the earthquake she wondered if life would ever again be exciting or worth living. The occurrence left her thinking the best of life had already happened. "Life seemed suddenly a little empty: for never again could there happen to her anything so dangerous and sublime.""(28) This portrayal of Emily's thoughts allow the reader to get a first taste of how Emily thinks and qualifies something to be important. In her world she would soon survive something that would yet rival her earthquake. She would sleep with a real live alligator.
             After beginning to understand Emily and her personal world through her reactions to previous experiences, it is not necessarily surprising that Emily is "translated to heaven-(235) when she encounters a baby alligator. The alligator is something that registers as danger. Emily welcomes the opportunity to sleep with the creature as means to chalk up another major event in her life's book of adventure and excitement. This is what she lives for. Though the baby alligator is clearly harmless, in Emily's world it will be an undying tale to tell and will forever accredit her résumé of bravery and nobility.

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