Chita is a wonderful modest depiction of the copious faces of nature. Hearn who served as an editorial writer, at ‘Times Democrat’ (1875-1887) in New Orleans, pens a thoughtful mystic about humane simplicity against the eminent spectacle of innate catastrophe close to home.
The Last Island was a holiday resort between the south shores of New Orleans and Louisiana. The island was destroyed by a Category 4 hurricane that washed the lasting remains of the scenic land gaining the name -Isle Dernière. Hearn sets the fictional story of Conchita (Chita) against the backdrop of a factual event creating eloquence to the narrative.
The typhoon of August 10th 1856 destroyed the island and its vacationing population; sweeping away the cattle, pianos, children’s toys, homes and dead bodies. The aftermath washes ashore of Viosca (island near Louisiana), an infant- a blonde, blue-eyed girl who is adopted by a Spanish fisherman Feliu and his wife Carmen. Carmen a religious woman perceives the baby to be a gift from God and names her Chita after her deceased baby. Chita finds a loving home with her foster parents unaware of her living biological father Dr.Julien. Cry providence, Julien turns up at the island to treat a patient; on seeing Chita realizes how much she resembles his dead wife Adele. However, before his skepticisms are confirmed he succumbs to yellow fever.
Designating it a “philosophical romance”, Hearn divulges the perfidious and magnanimous facets of the environment. Writing about the nature majestically, he choreographs minimalism with utmost shrewdness blending a perfect melody of a spectatorial compassion.
“All, all is blue in the calm, save the low land under your feet, which you almost forget, since it seems only as a tiny green flake afloat in the liquid eternity of day. Then slowly, caressingly, irresistibly, the witchery of the Infinite grows upon you: out of Time and Space you begin to dream with open eyes, to drift into delicious oblivion of facts, to forget the past, the present, the substantial, to comprehend nothing but the existence of that infinite Blue Ghost as something into which you would wish to melt utterly away forever. . . .”
Hearn’s brilliancy in inserting life in objects creates a dreamy rhapsody banishing the catalogue narration seen in other written novellas. The irony of adversity and bliss juxtaposed in the lives of Chita and the island makes this one of Hearn’s finest.