Nature versus Machines is a recurring idea in the story. One of the first observations Juan Julian makes upon arriving at the factory is that there are no hills or mountains near Ybor City; the landscape is flat, creating a sky that "seems so much bigger . . . and infinite" than the one he knew in Cuba. Juan Julian is a man who appreciates the revitalizing power of Nature, and he contemplates it at every opportunity. "I don't really like cities," he says. "In the country one has freedom."