Hopefully Looking Into the Future: Haiti
Hopefully Looking into the Future “Hope is the thing with feathers /That perches in the soul /And sings the tune without the words /And never stops at all. ” – Emily Dickinson In Edwidge Danticat’s anthology, The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States, different voices of the Haitian dyasporas tell their stories on how they have hope. Whether it be a young child looking for motherly love, seeking to win a soccer game or on an even bigger scale, or getting politically active and hope that what you have done pays off.
Though Haiti is often associated with negative stereotypes, whether it be associated with AIDS or “the Phrase” which was Haiti: The Poorest Nation in the Western Hemisphere (Dreyfus 57), Haitian Americans tend to look on the bright side and turn out to be very optimistic. They are not the ones to just give up, they have come too far. The hope Emily Dickinson’s quote from her poem Hope is the thing with feathers describes, is what the hope Haitians have. It gets buried within a person, that never succumbs. Throughout many essays, this point is clearly supported.
Though their country may not be at its best, throughout the essays, Haitians as well as this part of the Haitian dyaspora, look to move forward and become successful by the migration to the United States. In many instances throughout the compilation of essays and poems, Haitian Americans share their stories on how they have this sense of hope. In “Restavek” , by Jean-Robert Cadet, the boy, despite the maltreatment of Florence, hopes that deep down she loves him and cares for him. In reality all she really does is abuses and uses him for what he’s supposed to be doing as a restavek child.
Even til the end, when the boy knows how Florence treats him, he hopes that she had gotten him something for his ceremony. In “Bonne Annee”, Jean-Piere Benoit inserts a small anecdote that shows that, “Haitians hope even when there is no hope” (34). Interestingly enough, Benoit cleverly includes the brief anecdote of the soccer game of Italy versus Haiti right after he mentions Bebe Doc taking over his father, but right before states that Bebe Doc had fled the country, as if to enhance the meaning of it.
By putting it in this order, you see that Haiti can, even if they end up losing they do have the potential. Jean- Claude fleeing the country gives rise to new hope among many Haitians, both in the ten departments of Haiti and in the eleventh department. As Benoit describes that even ” a blizzard in New York [… ] does not prevent jubilant Haitians from taking to the snowy streets, waving flags, pouring champagne” (Benoit 35). Like the soccer game, they celebrated. Something good has happened, an occurrence that for Haitians does not come too often. hink this is perfectly sequenced in order to convey In “Adieu Miles and Good-bye Democracy”, Patrick Sylvain shows us that the hope he has in his country becoming a democracy is more important to him than his family. Even though he does give up his role as a father to take that of a political activist, he does question himself on whether he made the right decision and if he even made a difference in Haitian politics. All these different voices come together to express the potency of the hope of Haitian Americans.
The hope Haitians have prevails over death. Although many Haitians seem to be very hopeful in life, there most certainly are those few that through death triggered hope, and ultimately resorting to suicide. In “Something in the Water… Reflections of a Peoples Journey”, Nikol Payen tells us of a woman that could not bear with the suffering being on the boat with her infant and gave up on life, plunging into the ocean, never to be heard of again. Although she did not fight to continue, we have to understand the hardships dealt on a daily basis.
The boy telling the author the story of the aunt that had jumped off the boat, gains hope from seeing this act. He resorts to trusting Payen and getting onto the ship, hoping that he would get a better ending than the aunt. In Marie Ketsia Theodore-Pharel’s essay “Haiti: A Cigarette Burning at Both Ends”, the title alone gives the essay an ethos of lost hope, that no matter what Haiti will, in comparison to a cigarette, burn at both ends, choking any possibilities of having hope. In the end, Thurel died, simple as that. Mr.
Thurel “had made the ultimate sacrifice”, his journey had ended, but his death triggered the author of the essay to think, and other could have been influenced too. Therefore his death had made an impact on people enough to maybe give them hope to do better, and not turn out haw he had. Theodore- Pharel is contemplating whether Mr. Thurel had died for no cause, and this makes her question her love for Haiti. Being given a hopeless title, but opening the essay with an anecdote from her past that shows the story of a martyr that obviously impacted her, makes me think of the essay as being contradictory.
Thurel’s suicide, as the suicide of the woman on the boat, is because of the difficulties that they were dealing with in their lives. However, in Thurel’s suicide we see more of him being somewhat of a martyr. Thurel said himself in this essay that he was to “offer myself in holocaust for the complete liberation of my country” (Pharel 83). He died for his country , as had past fighters: Dessalines and Christophe. Like they once did, he had hope for his country, and as did Sylvain, which was mentioned before.
Hope does not stop at death, especially considering the fact that Haitians believe that a person does not really die, their soul lives on. And even after death, there is always hope for future generations. Many of the authors of these essays have grown up in the United States, coming from Haitian-born parents. These parents hoped for their children to be successful. They did not want their children to have to go through what they had been. These authors, now mostly accomplished , are the epitome of a Haitian American, or of the Haitian dyaspora.
Finding “success in exile”, whether it be to learn a lesson as Sandy Alexandre did in Exiled when she was tricked by her mother to go to Haiti to teach her a lesson to respect her elders, or finding exile as a motivator to become successful (Dreyfus 58). Having been sent to to Haiti, Dreyfus realizes she has to be thankful for what she had, not just take it for granted, seeing that not everyone had the same privileges as she did back in her home in America. In “Home is… Sophia Cantave, currently a professor at Tufts University, is perplexed if “perhaps my mother had given birth to me so that I could do all the things that she never did” (170). As an educated woman, she is proud of having succeeded, making her mom proud, yet she is disconnected from her mother, her native land. This hope given to future generations , of the children of Haitian migrants to the United States, is in a way disconnecting them from Haiti. Hope is an exuberant trait among Haitian Americans.
Those that had grown up in a place very different from their mother country, as well as those still in Haiti and even in the journey to migrate faced many dilemmas. As Haitians, going from fighting France to win their independence and always having this background of a turbulent government, they will always turn to hope. All they can do is hope, hope for the best , as their ancestors had done in the past and as they continued to do so. And from that hope, become a proud Haitian, because despite their past, they overcame it. They are left alone in this new world, with only hope at their side to help them continue.