Time, Morality, Redemption

Although each short story in The Dew Breaker, by Edwidge Danticat, seemingly follows different characters, the main themes and ideas of each remain the same. I have chosen to specifically follow three of these characters. Two of those characters being the woman from The Funeral Singer and Beatrice from The Bridal Seamstress. Due to an overlap of specific details, I believe Ka’s father from The Book of the Dead and Pa from The Dew Breaker is the same person and he will act as my third character. I also believe that the main themes of these pieces are time, morality, and redemption. I chose to present these themes through a collage. The pictures I have chosen are meant to represent both obvious and subtle details from each of the character’s life that add up to make the themes. 

At the bottom of the collage, I placed images that relate to Haiti and the dictatorship they were under at the time of these stories. Two of these images are Paintings that were done during this time period. There is also a newspaper article with a headline of Papa Doc, a Ruthless Dictator, Kept the Haitians in Illiteracy and Dire Poverty

There are two Haitian flags next to the newspaper article. The left one is the flag that was used from 1964-1986 under the dictator Duvalier’s rule. The right being the current national flag of Haiti.

I believe it is important to show the background of the characters in this collage as it plays such a large role in each of their stories. The treatment and obsessive use of violence and power at that time put the people of that country in so much danger. Although I am not focusing on these characters or this story, this is clearly shown in Monkey Tails. 

On the left side of the collage is where I placed images to do with The Funeral Singer. I think this short story really called attention to the idea of hope. The alert symbol represents the danger they were in and the weights represent the heavy decision they had to make. The funeral singer herself had to decide if she would sing for a government who mistreated its people or not. They talk about Jackie Kennedy and how

“she lost her husband and two babies, yet she remained so beautiful. She made sadness beautiful” (176).

 The girls believe in starting over, hence why they are taking the class. The three women in the story, who had been kicked out of their own country, use hope for the future as a way to cope with their past. 

The middle of my collage is about Pa from The Book of the Dead and The Dew Breaker. I used an image of The Tonton Macoutes, the main militia group in Haiti at that time. I also placed images of an angel and a devil. I think Pa struggles with his morality versus his loyalty to his country. Pa mentions how once he finishes this he will move to New York and start a new life. I put pictures of family, and another painting from that time, to show this sense of family and love that may have saved Pa from staying in Haiti. However, I also added pictures of people struggling with guilt and their own mind. I put an image of a fingerprint to show Pa’s struggle with his identity. We see in The Book of the Dead that Pa doesn’t believe he is worth the statue his daughter makes. He lets his past control his view of himself. 

The right side of my collage is about Beatrice from The Bridal Seamstress. I think the main theme in this story is time. Beatrice says her secret to life is time. She is patient with all of her tasks and doesn’t rush to do anything. Beatrice is retiring now, showing she has had many years between her and her time in Haiti, yet it still haunts her. Beatrice may be long away from that life, but she is stuck with the memories. 

I also chose to make all of the images black and white, except for four of them. The images I kept in color represent hope, family, and heritage which are all very important in each story.

Works Cited:

Danticat, Edwidge. The Dew Breaker. Vintage Books, 2004.  

Krebs, Albin. “Papa Doc, a Ruthless Dictator, Kept the Haitians in Illiteracy and Dire Poverty.” ., 23 Apr. 1971. The New York Times. Accessed 23 Oct. 2020. 

Obin, Antoine. H. Christophe Roi d’Haiti. 1964. Artsy. Accessed 23 Oct. 2020. 

Savain, Petion. Mother and Child. 1973. Masters of Haitian Art. Accessed 23 Oct. 2020.

“The Tonton Macoutes: The Central Nervous System of Haiti’s Reign of Terror.” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, 11 Mar. 2010. Accessed 23 Oct. 2020. 

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