By Odile Ferly (auth.)
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Extra info for A Poetics of Relation: Caribbean Women Writing at the Millennium
In actuality, such a racial categorization aimed to palliate the acute shortage of white women in the early colonial period, the slaveholders’ sexual claims on their female slaves being conveniently validated by this alleged promiscuity. 1 The depictions of black men as threatening studs or servile simpletons were gradually revised. Even revolutionary writers of the stature of Nicolás Guillén or Aimé Césaire, however, not only largely failed to address stereotypes of Caribbean women but produced new ones, those of black matriarchs and women as incarnations of the nation, that remained unchallenged until the irruption of a female discourse in the 1970s and 1980s.
Moreover, the filiation between the two rapists, who turn out to be father and son, insinuates that the exploiters have essentially remained the same. In an ambiguous statement ostensibly about hurricanes but implicitly about the rapists, Éliette’s aunt qualifies the 1989 event as “terrifying, like its brother in 1928,” adding that it may be “always the same one that returns” (299). Incest is thus symptomatic of a perverse filiation; by using this trope, the author wishes to reconsider an ideology based on the primacy of root thought.
As a child Sophie is keenly aware that a dutiful daughter is expected to replicate her mother’s gestures and appearance, hence the matching clothes. Atie further believes that her filial duty is to care for her mother Ifé. The embittered relationship between Atie and Ifé that Sophie witnesses as an adult on her return to Haiti shows the perniciousness of this belief. Atie is perpetuating her own unhappiness and dissatisfaction to honor a tradition, when even Ifé believes that “[t]he things one does, one should do out of love” and not out of duty (119).
A Poetics of Relation: Caribbean Women Writing at the Millennium by Odile Ferly (auth.)