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Cayo hueso

Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Trueblood, Kathryn R., 1960-

Second Advisor

Magee, Kelly, 1976-

Third Advisor

Rivera, Lysa M.


Cayo Hueso owes as much to Barthes as Jimmy Buffett, Hemingway to Heisenberg. The narrative exists as a pastiche of form: third-person prose, first person reportage and journal entries, songs (at this point lyrics, I'd like to add sheet music), stage script, a novel excerpt, and TV transcript (not yet). The plot exists in two distinct temporal planes on the island of Key West. One revolving around the manufactured "paradise" of the contemporary tourist-driven economy, the other set in 1860 at the dawn of the Civil War, and revolves around the islands once lucrative ship wrecking industry. Part one opens on a tropical tableau of contemporary Key West. The plot follows two misfit drug smugglers on the day a mysterious explosion rocks the island, starting a flurry of media attention. On a routine drug run, the alcoholic anti-hero Roseau rescues a mysterious woman in apparent danger on a railroad bridge. All the while, the island prepares for Coconut Days, a week-long tribute to the Gulf and Western musician Bobby Duvet. Interspersed within the contemporary narrative, a parallel plot takes place in 1860. This narrative contains a different instance of Roseau existing 150 years earlier. The 1860 Roseau is the black sheep of a wealthy family of Key Westerners who make their living salvaging ship wrecks. Trying to prove himself worthy of his brothers' respect, he attempts to claim salvaging rights to a sinking ship, racing to the vessel in a tiny dingy mounted with a makeshift sail. Upon reaching the ship, a US Navy steamer arrives, and he is knocked overboard. Roseau awakes in a Naval base's infirmary to find that the wreck he had tried to claim was in fact an illegal slave ship that had run aground while being pursued by a Navy steamer. He also finds that has skin has been mysteriously stained brown. Back in 2010, Roseau informs his partner in drug-running that the mysterious woman was kidnapped. The narrative perspective then shifts to the environmental activist-cum-anti-gay protester, Paul Holmes. Through Holmes' perspective, the reader is presented with a story within the novel, authored by Hunter, titled The Metamorphosis Part II. After reading the story, Holmes meditates on his own life, and begins to suspect that the story's narrative is not so different from the events unfolding around him. Meanwhile, in 1860, a traveling vaudeville minstrel show arrives on the island. In the commotion of the troupe's arrival, Roseau, whose skin now resembles a performer in blackface, is swept by a drunken mob, carried on the shoulders of an excited reveler, and taken to the playhouse where the troupe is scheduled to perform. The play within the story challenges not only conventions of form, but conventions of race and gender. The play exists to deconstruct race, gender, patriarchy and hegemony into a spectacle of performance--a vaudevillian argument essentialist binaries. As the plot moves forward Part Two (not included here), two main forces emerge. The minstrel show's star, who happens to be the same mysterious woman who Roseau rescued in 2010, is in fact part of a larger abolitionist campaign. In 2010, it becomes apparent that the offshore oil rig explosion that happened on the Gulf side of the island, may have directly caused a mysterious slick of unknown liquid to appear on the Atlantic side of the island. In response to this, the production and development arm of a large multi-national company begins paying out settlements to the residents, while another arm of the corporation begins clean-up measures. Slowly the two timelines intersect as Roseau slips deliriously between the two, and a larger conspiracy begins to emerge.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Key West (Fla.)--Fiction

Geographic Coverage

Key West (Fla.)




masters theses




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