Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Ylce Irizarry

Co-Major Professor

Shirley Toland-Dix

Committee Member

Hunt Hawkins

Keywords

haiti, dominican republic, ethnicity, racial tension, haitian massacre, 1937 massacre, trauma, immigrant novel, trujillo

Abstract

Drawing on recent attempts to reconcile the divergent nations of Hispaniola, I will examine the ways in which fiction by U.S. immigrant writers Danticat and Rosario looks back to the traumatic history of race relations on Hispaniola and the 1937 massacre as a means of approaching reconciliation and healing amongst the inhabitants of Hispaniola. As invested outsiders to their homelands, Danticat and Rosario may work, as Chancy suggests, in the capacity of actors for Hispaniola. Both Danticat and Rosario graciously admit that their writing is largely contingent on the relative freedom from censure that their American citizenship affords them. In this capacity, these immigrant writers are uniquely able to revisit a traumatic cultural past to give voice to its widely arrayed victims and to provide an interrogation of the makings of horrific brutality. Despite the largely U.S. American readership, these authors foster a form of reconciliation through their works by forcing the audience to move past dichotomous thinking about the massacre, but also about the boundaries between the two nations.

“…in traumatic times like ours, when reality itself is so distorted as to have become impossible and abnormal, it is the function of all culture, partaking of this abnormality, to be aware of its own sickness. To be aware of the unreality or inauthenticity of the so-called real, is to reinterpret this reality. To reinterpret this reality is to commit oneself to a constant revolutionary assault against it.” (―We Must Learn to Sit Down and Talk about a Little Culture,‖ Sylvia Wynter 31)

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