Meet extraordinary women who dared to bring gender equality and other issues to the forefront. From overcoming oppression, to breaking rules, to reimagining the world or waging a rebellion, these women of history have a story to tell. By the time she was four years old, her mother and father had moved to the United States, leaving Danticat and her brother behind with an aunt and uncle. She joined her parents in , but, with her Creole language and Haitian dress and manners, she found adapting to life and school in the United States difficult. Partly as a way to escape these unpleasant situations, she wrote stories, a practice she had started at an early age.
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These two Haitians are later separated following the beginning of the Parsley massacre. Amabelle begins a long journey in pursuit of news of her love, and along the way encounters various difficult obstacles.
Working in the cane fields proves to be dangerous and even life-threatening as it scars and mutilates many of the workers. Inundated with references to the past, the story contains many instances where characters are unable to move on.
For example, Amabelle constantly dwells upon not only memories of her dead parents, but also memories with Sebastien. Despite being able to survive the massacre and his success in farming, Yves cannot move on, wondering why he was not the one to die not only in the accident, but also during the killings. Furthermore, Don Ignacio fails to forget his involvement in the military regardless of his exile to another country.
Decades later, he cannot feel happy for the birth of his granddaughter, for he believes that his losses may be consequences of his past. Many people throughout the story are like this and as a result are like living dead, walking the earth to seek answers to unanswered questions. Background[ edit ] Born in Port-au-Prince , Haiti , Edwidge Danticat visited the Massacre River in and was surprised by the domestic routines taking place.
The people at the river were unaware of the brutal killings that had taken place there years ago. Realizing that the horrific occurrences of the massacre had been forgotten, Danticat was determined to memorialize the victims and their suffering, by telling their stories and spreading knowledge. The majority were killed with machetes as ordered by Trujillo.
Thousands were killed in the process of attempting to return to Haiti. He reassured his people that he would stop this treachery. His real motive however was to segregate the two peoples. He wanted to separate the Dominicans from the Haitians to establish more control and provide a clear division between the two countries.
Ultimately, Trujillo was assassinated in Structure[ edit ] The Farming of Bones is told in first person narrative through the character of Amabelle Desir. Amabelle narrates in past tense with memories and dreams interlaced within it. The memories and dreams intermingled within the story gives insight into her character and add to story development. For instance, many of the chapters that consist of a single memory deal with her parents. In this case, Amabelle intimates her failures of her past and hopes that the younger generation, Sylvie, will be able to learn what Amabelle had.
Major formal strategies[ edit ] In terms of literary devices, Danticat relies very heavily on symbolism to apply to a more general truth. Another marked symbol in The Farming of Bones is parsley. Dominican soldiers would ask suspected Haitians to pronounce perejil parsley , those who could not roll the "r" would be killed.
This marked difference that the Haitians are unable to conceal, is like the mole of Felice. Not only does Danticat utilize dreams as a vehicle of character development, but she also uses dreams as a vehicle for the characters to escape reality and nightmares as a means to haunt them of their past.
Please let me take it away Ch. However, the characters in The Farming of Bones continue to try to find solace in the comfort of their dreams. Lastly, sugarcane is another important symbol found in the book. The chains bind the sugar woman and she wears a silver muzzle.
This muzzle was given to the sugar woman so that she would not eat the sugarcane. However, despite her confinements, she is dancing.
Much like the workers, they come to the Dominican Republic to find work and a better life and stay due to the work that they find in the mills that they cannot find in Haiti. Regardless of their hard work, the workers cannot taste the sweetness of the sugarcane; instead, they are bound by it.
In fact, they cannot escape it. Danticat even describes Sebastien with his sweat as thick as sugarcane juice and many of his defining scars a result of working in the cane fields. The Haitians and the Dominican both hail from the same island and struggle to survive among the same resources. Orphaned by the age of 8, Amabelle works for Don Ignacio and his daughter.
When complications separate Amabelle and Sebastien during their attempt to flee, Amabelle is desperate to find what has become of Sebastien. While escaping, the group must divide for their own safety. Upon reaching the town of Dajabon , Amabelle is disappointed to find that Sebastien is not there. On the verge of death, two remaining members of their group rescue Amabelle and Yves and bring them to the river that they must cross.
Unfortunately, only Amabelle and Yves survive the dangerous crossing, where they are met at the other side by nuns who nurse them back to health. Once Amabelle and Yves have healed, Yves offers to take Amabelle to his home.
Upon arrival of the city, Amabelle and Yves settle in his home and try to rebuild their lives. Despite reuniting with Senora Valencia, Amabelle is dissatisfied with the results of her search. In the final scene of the novel, Amabelle enters and rests in the Massacre River, winnowing through a handful of memories.
Although distressed by loss, Amabelle finds the spiritual resilience to search for a new beginning. However, as the novel progresses the reader discovers that this young girl has both complex desires and definitions of love. As she struggles with her the memory of home, and the reality around her, we are astonished by the complexity of this character.
Sebastien Onius — Sebastien is a young Haitian man who is in a romantic relationship with Amabelle. He is constantly yearning for narrative. The reader can sometimes sense a nihilistic air as Sebastien rejects his present home in the Dominican Republic.
The only people who seem to put him at ease are the people from his home country. Generalissimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo — Although the characters do not interact with the President of the Dominican Republic formally, he is an omnipresent figure. His presidency completely dictates the social dynamics of the Dominican Republic.
Kongo — The obvious symbol of Haiti and African roots in this novel. The stories which surround him, whether it be about his son contextualize the reality of working Haitians in the Dominican Republic, who are forced to the bottom of the social hierarchy. Juana and Luis — Juana is a housemaid who has been tending to the Ignacio family for several years. The fact that they both just have a modicum of a voice in this novel is telling of the social hierarchy in the novel.
Although they have more power that the working class Haitian, they are not seen as equivalent to people such as the Ignacios. Don Gilbert is the owner of a rum company whose family first owned it on Haitian Soil.
Through a land exchange, this land became Dominican land. Sabine is a cosmopolitan woman, who has traveled all around the world because of her former dance career. This couple is a symbol of the complex social hierarchy. Although they are originally Haitian, their wealth disguises this. In addition, they are symbolic of the fluidity between the border of these two countries which are made rigid by some characters in the novel.
Senor Pico Duarte — Pico is the epitome of the Trujillo supporters of this time. As a member of the military, he constantly evades anything which would be telling of his roots. The birth of their children is symbolic because of the varying reactions the characters have towards the children.
The twins are crucial because the reactions towards them are evidence of the racial climate during the time. Beatriz symbolizes the modern young woman during the time of Trujillo who goes against the traditional structure.
Doctor Javier- Doctor Javier is representative of a sort of intellectual elite in the Dominican Republic. He speaks both Spanish and Creole. He is close to the Ignacio family and treats Amabelle kindly. While travelling through the Dominican Republic, the violence that Amabelle faces is representative of the brutal sentiments towards Haitians at the time.
Once Amabelle and Yves reach Haiti, the setting is mostly concentrated in the town that Yves is from, " the Cap ". Amabelle returns to Dominican Republic briefly and the story ends with her in the Massacre River.
Prior to the tensions ramping up to a peak in , there was a time in which the borderlands between Haiti and the Dominican Republic were a more peaceful place. Dominicans and Haitians had worked together, socialized together, and even inter-married before the conflict. The occupation was received very negatively, inciting even more political instability and violence in the Dominican Republic.
Throughout the book, the Haitian workers make a point of retelling and remembering all that happened to them. This is a book that, confronted with corpses, has the cold-eyed courage to find a smile.
The Farming of Bones
These two Haitians are later separated following the beginning of the Parsley massacre. Amabelle begins a long journey in pursuit of news of her love, and along the way encounters various difficult obstacles. Working in the cane fields proves to be dangerous and even life-threatening as it scars and mutilates many of the workers. Inundated with references to the past, the story contains many instances where characters are unable to move on. For example, Amabelle constantly dwells upon not only memories of her dead parents, but also memories with Sebastien. Despite being able to survive the massacre and his success in farming, Yves cannot move on, wondering why he was not the one to die not only in the accident, but also during the killings.
There is nuance here. Our Haitian Black woman "I know what will happen," he said. I wanted to know what became of the children, and I know Danticat was making me feel with Amabelle there, while she was struggling with survival and through the primacy of other loyalties. This narrative belongs to a servant and worker class of Haitians; even though its sweep is broad and generous, class and national solidarities are at its core. Danticat teaches that memories are a mixed blessing. Most of them, in this book, are painful.
The Farming of Bones Quotes
Early life[ edit ] Danticat was born in Port-au-Prince , Haiti. When asked in an interview about her traditions as a child, she included storytelling, church, and constantly studying school material as all part of growing up. In the introduction to Starting With I, an anthology of stories from the magazine, Danticat wrote, "When I was done with the [immigration] piece, I felt that my story was unfinished, so I wrote a short story, which later became a book, my first novel: Breath, Eyes, Memory Writing for New Youth Connections had given me a voice.