Haitian History Illuminated In The Writing Of Edwidge Danticat

1899 words - 8 pages

It is interesting to consider how any individual develops their personality over the course of a lifetime. We tend to think that people make a series of conscious, day to day decisions, establishing a trend of behavior for themselves that is entirely a result of their own preferences and ideals. They go about collecting traits they admire in others and project these traits outward as their own. This preference-based model makes up the conscious half in the development of personality. Often forgotten is the naturally occurring element, the unconscious aspect. The aspect that is a direct consequence of our inherent culture from birth. We adopt first and foremost the culture of our ...view middle of the document...

The unique Haitian culture we bear witness to today is a result of many years of conflict and resolution by the people on the island of Hispaniola. The territory, home to indigenous tribes until its uncovering by the Spanish in 1492, was frequently fought over between the Spanish and French monarchies with borders changing and eventually residing where they are today. Today, the Dominican Republic is home to Spanish descendants and culture and occupies the larger, western landscape of the island. Haiti on the other hand, is home to many descendants of African slaves and adaptations of French influence, making up the smaller western territory of the island.
Publishing her first novel at the youthful age of 25, Edwidge Danticat continues to bring to the forefront of conversation her home country’s volatile history through her writing and personality. Danticat’s The Farming of Bones is a fictional novel based on the events surrounding the Parsley Massacre of 1937 arranged by the brutal dictator, General Rafael Trujillo. The story follows Amabelle, the protagonist, through her traumatic journey as an oppressed Haitian survivor. We know today that history is generally written by the commanding authority or war champion, which gives reason as to why the Parsley Massacre is not widely known or learned about today. Ironically, Danticat’s fictional story is a vital addition to history in the sense that it provides a voice for the victims, the people whose words are often forgotten and lost in history. Her novel captures the oppressed Haitian’s identity crisis of the time, effectively weaving it into Amabelle’s character. Danticat also sheds light on the disparity between social roles and statuses of Haitians and Dominicans, and how it allowed for the continued ethnocentricity and unwavering authority of the Haitian patriarch through propaganda and overt nationalism. In Danticat’s Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, the novelist dissects the factual heroism of Marcel Numa and Louis Drounin while delivering thought provoking commentary on their legacy and impact on future generations of Haitians and her own attitude toward reading and writing.
Despite their proximity, the two territories of Haiti and the Dominican Republic are extremely disparate. The current state of their political, social, and economic relations are largely influenced by the tight grip help by Dominican dictator General Trujillo from 1930 until his assassination in 1961. Trujillo was one of the most violent leaders the Western Hemisphere had ever seen, and depended on tradition and male-friendly gender constructions to maintain his grasp on authority. In 1937, after the alleged theft of cattle and crops by Haitians along the Dominican Republic’s borderlands, Trujillo ordered a genocide of thousands of Haitians living in the area (Wucker). His efforts to further the purity and superiority of his country’s race were temporarily successful. Trujillo’s...

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