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1 GENDERING AMERICA: CARIBBEAN WRITERS AN D THE AMERICAN DREAM By ALISON VAN NYHUIS A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007
2 2007 Alison Van Nyhuis
3 To my teachers
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank the University of Florida for its generous alumni fellowship, which funded my research and completion of this project. I th ank my dissertation advisor, Leah Rosenberg, for reading and responding to countless versions of this project. I also thank Leah Rosenberg and my dissertation readers, Mars ha Bryant, Susan Hegeman, and Berta Esperanza HernndezTruyol, for their invaluable guidance and encour agement during my graduate study. I thank my colleagues, Rebecca Caldwell Kouider, Jung-Hwa Lee, Angelique Nixon, Craig Smith, and Linda Stanley, for their insightfu l comments at our writing group m eetings. I thank my mentors, Joel Westerholm and Michael Kensak, for orig inally encouraging my study of Caribbean literature. Finally, I thank Dean Swinford for patiently supporting me and my work.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..............7 CHAPTER 1 CARIBBEAN AUTHORS ENDORSE AN D PROTEST NORTH AMERICA AND THE AMERICAN DREAM.....................................................................................................9 Introduction................................................................................................................... ............9 The American Dream to the Late Sixties...............................................................................10 The American Dream sin ce the Late Sixties..........................................................................23 Conclusion..................................................................................................................... .........32 2 MIGRATION AND RACIAL UPLIFT IN CLAUDE MCKAYS WORK, 1911-1947.......34 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........34 Early Poetry................................................................................................................... .........35 Proletarian Writing............................................................................................................ .....45 Home to Harlem (1928) Banjo (1929) and Banana Bottom (1933).....................................55 Final Poetry................................................................................................................... ..........65 Conclusion..................................................................................................................... .........68 3 DOMESTIC WORK AND BLACK MASCUL INITY IN AUSTIN CLARKES TORONTO TRILOGY, 1967-1975.......................................................................................70 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........70 The Meeting Point (1967).......................................................................................................71 The Storm of Fortune (1973)..................................................................................................85 The Bigger Light (1975).........................................................................................................94 Conclusion..................................................................................................................... .........98 4 MACHISMO AND FEMINISM IN ESMERALDA SANTIAGOS AMRICAS DREAM, 1996.......................................................................................................................101 Introduction................................................................................................................... ........101 Amricas Domestic Dream.................................................................................................102 Amricas Spanish American Dream...................................................................................116 Conclusion..................................................................................................................... .......133 5 RECLAIMING CARIBBEAN LABOR FROM THE GLOBAL MARKETPLACE IN ALAN CAMBEIRAS AZCAR TRILOGY, 2001-04......................................................135 Introduction................................................................................................................... ........135 Azcar! The Story of Sugar (2001).......................................................................................137
6 Azcars Sweet Hope. (2004)...........................................................................................155 Conclusion..................................................................................................................... .......164 WORKS CITED.................................................................................................................... ......167 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................179
7 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy GENDERING AMERICA: CARIBBEAN WRITERS AN D THE AMERICAN DREAM By Alison Van Nyhuis August 2007 Chair: Leah Rosenberg Major: English This study examines the ways in which Caribbe an authors of migration narratives to the United States and Canada have used the rhetoric al trope of the American dream to critically engage the Caribbeans fraught re lationship with North America. Literary criticism of Caribbean migration literature traditionally has focused on Caribbean mens migration to Europe in the 1950s. This study attempts to enri ch that perspective and show the degree to which early and contemporary Caribbean literature has engaged with men and womens migration to North America. Chapter one provides the necessary historical background for this alternative perspective of Caribbean migration and exile, introducing the prominence of North America and the American dream in literature from most regions of the Caribbean and arguing that its prominence reflects the Caribbeans imperial relati ons with North America. Chap ter one also historicizes the emergence and evolution of the American dream in academic publications and popular culture. An American historian coined the phrase in th e 1930s to engender grea ter social equity for American citizens, immigrants, and those affect ed by American political expansion overseas, especially in the Caribbean; how ever, literary critics have obscure d the terms socially critical
8 roots in order to emphasize its more popular economic significance, namely individual socioeconomic advancement. Each remaining chapter focuses on particular eras during which the tr aditionally masculine Anglo-Saxon Protestant American dream narrativ es have been reevaluated: the Harlem Renaissance and Great Depre ssion, the civil rights moveme nt, the World War II era of immigration reform, and globalization at the turn of the twenty-first century. For each of these eras, I examine the work of a Caribbean-born author who engages w ith these issues: the Jamaican-born Claude McKay, Barbadian-born Au stin Clarke, Puerto Rican-born Esmeralda Santiago, and Dominican-born Alan Cambeira, respectively. I c onclude this study by examining how Caribbean narratives of migr ation to the United States and Canada engage with the human rights injustices of a global economy in the twenty-first century.
9 CHAPTER 1 CARIBBEAN AUTHORS ENDORSE AND PROTEST NORTH AMERICA AND THE AMERICAN DREAM Introduction Caribbean authors from most hi storical periods and regions of the Caribbean have narrated Caribbean migration to the Unite d States and Canada in terms of North Americas history of political and economic imperialism in the Caribb ean and the rhetorical trope of an American dream. Authors have overlooked the original m eaning of the American dream, coined by James Truslow Adams in the year 1931 (Brand; Carpenter 5; Hulme 4). In The Epic of America (1931), Adams defined the American dream as a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest st ature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortu itous circumstances of birth or position (374). The American dream partially reta ined this socially critical function until the 1968 assassination of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. (Long 120; Hulme 10). North America and the American dream ought to be recognized as critical aspects of Caribbean literary studies. The literary criticism that has shaped the fi eld of Caribbean lite rary studies has not provided a framework for the centrality of North America and American dream rhetoric in Caribbean literature. Since it s establishment in the 1970s, Angl ophone Caribbean literary studies has considered the male writers of the 1950s, including V.S. Naipaul (1932-), George Lamming (1927-), and Samuel Selvon (1923-1994), the f ounding fathers of the tradition (Gikandi 26; Lamming, The Pleasures of Exile 38-39; Ramchand 4). They immigrated to England and quickly achieved international acclaim.1 Their writing on immigra tion and exile, such as 1 The St. Lucian-born Derek Walcott (1930-) has ear ned the Nobel Prize for Literature (1992). V.S. Naipaul has earned the Booker Prize for Free State (1971) and the Nobel Prize for Literature (2001).
10 Lammings The Emigrants (1954) and Selvons The Lonely Londoners (1956), has served as the model of Caribbean immigration and exile; however, England was not the sole destination, nor was the British Empire the only colonial force that Caribbean authors confronted in the twentieth century.2 Some authors of migration narratives to th e United States and Ca nada have received substantial literary crit ical attention, including the Haitian-bor n Edwidge Danticat (1969-) in the United States and the Barbadian-born Austin Clarke (1934-) in Canada.3 Many more female and male Caribbean authors have immigrated to the United States a nd Canada throughout the twentieth century. Caribbean writerss employment of American dream rhetoric in narratives of North American migration challenges the founda tional framework for understanding Caribbean literature: it shifts the focus from Caribbean literatures traditionally male, British colonial context to a more explicitly female North American imperial context. The American Dream to the Late Sixties Even the foundational authors of West Indian literature have used American dream rhetoric in their writing on the United States and Canada. C. L. Chua already has discussed the ways in which the Nobel Prize winning Indo-Trinidadian author and historian Naipaul has written on Indo-Caribbean American and Canadian migra tion, exile, and rootlessness in terms of the 2 Afro-Caribbeans have been publishing literatu re about coerced and voluntary Caribbean migration since the eighteenth century, such as Olaudah Equianos The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789), Mary Princes The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself (1831), and the free-born Jamaican Mary Jane Grant Seacoles The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857). 3 Danticat has earned the Pushcart Story Prize, and her collection of short stories, Krik? Krak! (1995), was a finalist for the National Book Award. In 1998, Oprah Winfrey selected Breath, Eyes, Memory (1998) for her television book club. Clarke h as earned the Canadian Rogers Writerss Trust Fiction Prize for The Origin of Waves (1997), and his novel, The Question (1999), was nominated for the Canadian Council for the Arts Governor Generals L iterary Award. Clarke earned the Canadian Giller Prize, Commonwealth Writerss Prize, and th e Ontario governments Trillium Book Award for The Polished Hoe (2002), which was also one of the two fina lists for Americas Hurston/Wright Legacy Award (2004).
11 American dream, especially in the shor t story One Out of Many (1971), novel The Enigma of Arrival (1988), and nonfiction travel narrative, A Turn in the South (1989) (51).4 In an introduction to In the Castle of My Skin (1953), the Barbadian-born auth or and literary critic Lamming described his and other Caribbeanss persp ective of the United States in terms of an American dream of economic success, even desc ribing the ways in which American material success stories had shaped his portrayal of Caribbean economic emigration in the novel: It is interesting for me to reflect on the ro le which America was to play in shaping the essential features of the novel. If England dominated our minds as the original idea of ultimate human achievement, the United States existed for us as a dream, a kingdom of material possibilities accessible to all. I ha d never visited the United States before writing In the Castle of My Skin ; but America often touched our li ves with gifts that seemed spectacular at the time, and reminded us th at this dream of un ique luxury beyond our shores was true. The image of America has not changed. Almost everyone had some distant relation there who had done well. I had never heard of anyone being a failure in the United States. And Christmas was evidence of this when postal orders arrived with money and gifts of exotic clothes. (xlxlil) Lamming represented his belief in an American dream of unique luxury as commonplace and widespread in the twentieth century, from th e postcolonial eighties when Lamming wrote this introduction to the novels colonial setting in th e thirties and forties, when Adams coined and popularized the phrase American dream. In th e novel, a young Afro-Barbadian male immigrates to the United States in pursuit of economic su ccess, primarily because people say things are good there (168). After immigrating, howev er, Trumper learned that things were significantly better in the United St ates for whites than blacks (295). Lamming returned to the role of racial discrimination in the Afro-C aribbean experience of American exile in The Pleasures of Exile (1962), a collection of essays published after Lamming had traveled to the 4 Trinidad and Guyana have the highest East Indi an populations of the Caribbean nations. Indians migrated to Trinidad and Guyana in mass as indentur ed workers after the emancipation of Afro-Caribbean slaves in the nineteenth century (N elson xxi). For literature on and by Indo-Guyanese authors, see Joel Benjamin, Lakshmi Kallicharan, Ia n McDonald and Lloyd Searwars They Came in Ships: An Anthology of Indo-Guyanese Prose and Poetry (1998).
12 United States as a Guggenheim Fellow (1955) an d Canada as a Canadi an Council Fellow (1962), emphasizing the ways in which racism had awok en him from his own dream of America as a place where everything was possible, a kingdom next door to the sky (188). Emigrants from the Anglophone, Hispanophone, and Francophone Caribbean often have emphasized the ways in which racism has frustrated Caribbean emigra ntss pursuit of economic success, freedom, and equality in North America.5 Foundational authors, such as Lamming, and less er known authors, such as the Guyaneseborn Cyril Dabydeen, have used the most popular American dream narrative of the successful self-made man, some endorsing an d others protesting the concept.6 In the short story Drive Me until I Sweat (1996), Dabydeen wrote an Afro-Barbadian immigrant into the popular American dream stock plot of the self-made man.7 The protagonist tempor arily left his wife in Barbados in order to rise from rags to riches and make the holy million as a taxi driver in New York City (130). The rags to riches rh etoric alluded to the late nineteenth century popular literature published by Horatio Alger; Alger wrote storie s of the rise to wealth of poor 5 In the Toronto trilogy, Clarke compared Afro-Barbadian economic immigrantss experience of racism Canada to African Americanss experience of racism in the United States. In Toronto Poem, one of many poems on Afro-Caribbean North American migration in Tamarind Season: Poems (1980), the Jamaican-born Lorna Goodison also asks, New York. Toronto, whats the difference? (58). In A Drifting Year (1997), which was originally published in French (1994), the Haitian-born Dany Laferriaers collection of poetry on the experience of exile in Canada, he writes, Im black / and everyone else / is white. / Imagine the Shock! (13). In an autobiographical collection of essays, A Map to the Door of No Return (2001), Dionne Brand explained how her knowledge of African American history and literature shaped her experience of arriva l in Canada: The plane landed in Canada, but I was in America, with the Black Power leader Malcom X and the Afro-Barbadian American mother, Silla, in Paula Marshalls Brown Girl, Brownstones (117). 6 According to Charles R. Hearn, self-made wome n generally do not appear in popular American literature until the late 1930s (61), and they pr imarily achieve personal economic security through conventionally feminine methods, including marriage in westerns (Wallman 19) and entertainment, cooking, and sewing in popular magazines like the Ladiess Home Journal (Hearn 61). 7 For more of Dabydeens short stories on Caribb ean migration to Canada and the United States, see Berbice Crossing and Other Stories (1996) and Black Jesus and Other Stories (1996).
13 boys, commonly assumed to be and depicted as, white males (Pulera 201), with hard work, intelligence, and virtuous living (Hearn 68). In Da bydeens story, the taxi drivers wife directly questioned the morality of her husbands economi c pursuits in the United States, calling New York City the same Big Bad Apple of the worl d, the very one that Eve gave to Adam (138). Dabydeens dual representation of the United Stat es as a material promised land and moral wasteland has reappeared in other narrati ves of Caribbean American migration. A closer examination of Caribbean American migration narratives reveals that Caribbean authorss appropriation, alteration, and subversion of American dream rhetoric correlates with the emerging and changing concept of the American dream, from its social ly critical roots in Adamss The Epic of America and dismantling following the a ssassination of King in 1968. Adams and King have been two of the most import ant rhetoricians of the American dream. In The Epic of America the European American, Yale-educat ed philosopher, and Pulitzer Prize winning historian, Adams, original ly reconsidered centuries of American history in terms of Americanss theorization and realization of th e American dream. Adams identified the American dream as the defining factor of Amer ican history: If Amer ica has stood for anything unique in the history of the worl d, it has been for the American dream, the belief in the common man and the insistence upon having, as far as possi ble, equal opportunity in everyway with the rich one (123). The earliest authors of voluntary Caribbean American migr ation literature, such as the British Guyanese-born Eric Walrond and the Jamaican-born Claude McKay, have published literature on West Indi anss pursuit of economic advancement in the United States and the American-controlled Panama Canal Zone.8 In his earliest poetry and later work (Chapter 8 In the largely autobiographical Tropic Death (1926) Walrond addressed West Indianss economic migration to the American-controlled Panama Canal Zone. In short stories, including Miss Kennys Marriage, Harlem, Success Story, and City of Love, Walrond traced West Indian immigrantss pursuit of happiness through the American dream. Loui s J. Parascandola, has described City of Love,
14 Two), including autobiographies and novels, McKay narrated his estr angement from aristocratic English cultural traditions and his increasing en gagement with American industry in terms of immigrantss pursuit of economic success in the United States and the United Statess political and economic imperialism in the Caribbean, tw o key elements of Adamss American dream narrative. In The Epic of America Adams used the utopian rhetoric al elements of the jeremiad, which generally includes a promise, declension, a nd prophesy (Schlueter xiii), in order rewrite American history in term s of the American dream9: he represented an eq uitable social order as the promise of the American dream, critici zed American citizens and immigrants for jeopardizing this equitable social order through rampant anti-intellectualism, self-reliance, and materialism, and prophesied on the ways in whic h Americans should return to the fundamental American principle of an e quitable social order (379).10 Adams represented education, a communal spirit, and economic equ itability as the best means to restore American citizens and immigrantss unsurpassed access to the fullest statur e of which they are innately capable (374). In conclusion, Adams represented the Library of Congress as the institutional emblem of the American dream, and the laissez-faire capitalist logic, which the United States Steel Companys which was first published in 1927 in the American Caravan anthology, as perhaps the finest literary work depicting the lives of West Indian immigran ts during the Harlem Renaissance (30). In the Trinidad-born novelist and historian C.L.R. Jamess depression era novel, Minty Alley (1936), which he published shortly before traveling to the United St ates (1938), a Caribbean woman immigrated to the United States in pursuit of a better life. 9 Nathan W. Schlueter has described the respec tive functions of these parts in the American rhetorical tradition as follows: the promise expressed a d edication to certain fundamental principles of justice; the declension clarified the ways in wh ich Americans have neglected those principles; the prophecy reminded Americans that returning to the fundamental principles will result in peace and prosperity (Schlueter xiii). 10 For more on the history of anti-intellectualism in the United States, see Richard Hofstadters book, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963) (Hearn 66).
15 Andrew Carnegie explicitly endorse d as the concentration of busin ess in the hands of the few corporate magnates (Carnegie qtd. in Wallman 109), as perhaps, as inimical as anything could be to the American dream (383).11 Adamss conceptualization of the American dream in The Epic of America starkly contrasted popular, critically acclaimed, and pr oletarian depression era authorss representation of the American dream. In popular escapist lite rature, such as wester ns and self-help books, authors generally limited American citizens a nd immigrantss achievement of the American dream to white mens independent achievem ent of economic success (Hearn 20-21, 25, 29; Wallman 19; Hart 257-63 qtd. in Hearn 77; Cullen 64; Brandt; Pulera 201).12 In critically acclaimed depression era literature, such as John Steinbecks Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Grapes of Wrath (1939), authors emphasized workerss fa iled economic dreams. The recurring tragedy, according to Charles R. Hearn, was the physical as well as the spiritual suffering, the destitution and despair (106).13 In 1930s American and Caribbean proletarian literature, poets also focused on the unethical, unjust, and ex tremely violent consequences of rampant individualism, materialism, and the growing gulf separating the na tions rich factory owners and 11 For more on Carnegie, see his posthumously published Autobiography (1925). 12 According to Jeffrey Wallman, only one American western published in the 1930s and 1940s, the Pulitzer Prize and Book Award winning The Big Rock, Candy Mountain (1943), represents the American dream as a myth and fraud (157). The protagonist Bo Masons failure in The Big Rock, Candy Mountain became a trend from World War II onwards, when west erns generally rejected the conventions of morality, heroism, and belief in the American Dream (175) and expressed feelings of alienation and disillusionment (Nash 249 qtd. in Wallman 275). In the self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), Dale Carnegie encouraged peopl e to develop a likeable and ingratiating personality in order to succeed in the business worl d (Hearn 143), meaning that personality began to surpass the protestant work ethic examined in the influential sociologist Max Webers book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1930). 13 For more on critically acclaimed authorss treatment of the American dream during the Great Depression, see Frederic I. Carpenter and Hearns analysis of Steinbecks Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath and Hearns analysis of James T. Farrells St uds Lonigan trilogy (1935), Nathaniel Wests The Day of the Locus t (1939), and Eugene ONeills plays (1930s).
16 shareholders from the nations poor, hungry, homele ss, and sick in rural fields and mines and urban factories and streets.14 In Let America be America Ag ain (1936), the African American Langston Hughes used American dream rhetoric in or der to revive the dream thats almost dead today, the idealized American dream of freedom and equal ity for everyone [w]ho made America (qtd. in Nelson 516). In literary and autobiographical writing (Chapter Two), McKay and other Afro-Caribbean American immigrants also have employed the American dreams originally socially critical function in order to emphasize African American citizens and AfroCaribbean immigrantss discriminatory exclus ion from the American dream of equality, freedom, and socioeconomic advancement. Adamss reliance on the concept of equality of opportunity for each American initially might have seemed more progressive than both the racist theories circulating in early twentieth century scientific communities on Caucasionss inherent physical, intellectual, moral, and cultural supremacy and the sexist opinions circ ulating in early twen tieth century popular American culture on mens inherent physical and intellectual supremacy (OKane 1). In 14 In Hughess Come to the Waldorf Astoria (1931) for example, the speaker ironically invited homeless and hungry women and men of all races and ethnicities to come to the luxurious WaldorfAstoria and [d]ine with some of the men and women who got rich off your labor, who clip coupons with clean white fingers because your hands dug coal, dr illed stone, sewed garments, poured steelto let other people draw dividends and live easy (qtd. in Nelson 512). In effect, Hughes represented the relationship between the American poor and the rich factory owners and shareholders as an unjust, unethical, and even parasitic relationship. In I Want You Women Up North to Know ( 1934), the proletarian poet Tille Lerner Olsen extended the parasitic web of labor exploitation to the distributors of the workerss products and the wealthy consumers who purchased the workerss pro ducts. The poems speaker specifically addressed northern women with a disposable income, and stated, those dainty childrens dresses you buy at macys, wanamakers, gimbels, marshall fields are died in blood, are stitched in wasting flesh, down in San Antonio, where sunshine sp ends the winter. (qtd. in Nelson 652) Since the phrase, where sunshine spends the winter, has appeared in an Arizona travel brochure (Nelson 652), the poem ironically emphasized the difference betw een the sunny Arizona advertised to northerners, and the grim working conditions experienced by hungry, tired, and sick hard-working women.
17 practice, however, Adams narrated Americans s past theorization a nd realization of the American dream in both the racially and sexuall y exclusive terms of well educated European American mens expression of the American dream and working class European American mens pursuit of the American dream. Perhaps th is explains why Adams basically has fallen out of American popular culture and only has appeared intermittently in lite rary criticism as the historian who coined the American dream phrase. In The Epic of America Adams listed four well-educated European American men as the a postles or prophets of the American dream, arguing that Thomas Jefferson, Ralph Wal do Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Woodrow Wilson expressed the core tenets of th e American dream in their speeche s and publications: faith in the common man and Americas political democrac y, which historically has been rooted in economic democracy, especially the opportunity to own land (74, 95).15 The sexist semantics of the phrase common man and Adamss definition of the archetypal common man as the independent male farmer on the Amer ican frontier gestured towards the legal limits of political democracy and upward social mobility in early American history, especially for women and people of color who co nveniently receded into the b ackground of Adamss narration of immigrantss unparalleled acce ss to equal opportunity on Americ an soil (375). In the rare instances when Adams mentioned European Amer ican women, he generally noted the ways in which American culture had disregarded women s work and hobbies, such as the literary and artistic pursuits that were commonly regarded as feminine vices in nineteenth century America (165, 178). On African American men and women, he wrote that those women of the more docile tribes imported made exce llent house servants (47), basica lly reserving the rhetoric of 15 For more on the religion of patriotism e voked through Adamss religions description of patriotic icons in the religious terms of apostles and prophets, see Brandts discussion of a Womans Press pamphlet (1942), which contains a vespers serv ice entitled The American Dream, complete with a call to worship, a hymn, a litany, and quotations from The Epic of America
18 slavery for Americas colonial relationship with Europe (84, 157). Native Americans, who had claimed a territory twice the size of New Engl and by 1850 (Wallman 70), largely vanished from Adamss description of th e American landscape, as they often did in eighteenth and nineteenth century literature (Ziff qtd. in Wall man 48). Adams failed to acknowledge the degree to which northern and western European immi grantss achievement of economic success depended on extreme gender and racial exclusio n. As Jim Cullen has noted, the slave trade became a major means of upward mobility for ma ny colonists (61). Eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth century property, voting, and citizenship laws significantly have limited women and people of colors pers onal, political, and economic free dom, most notably to own the farmland that Adams originally identified as th e ideal means to achieve the American dream of upward social mobility. Historically, the Ameri can dream of economic success has been a more immediate component of northern and western European American me ns identities (Pulera 10).16 The United States governments ratification of the thirteenth, four teenth, fifteenth, and nineteenth amendments near the turn of the twen tieth century technically generated a much more equitable social order for the women and people of color who historically had not had the same access to socioeconomic advancement as male Eu ropean American immigrants and citizens; however, Adams identified the 1890s as the negativ e turning point in Am ericanss ability to achieve the idealized American dream, a sign of his reliance on the influential Pulitzer Prize winning American historian Frederick Jackson Turn er (Ridge 1, 6). In the Reconstruction Era, Turner broke away from germ theory research methods, narrating American history in terms of 16 Pulera has noted that northern and western Eur opean American Protestant men have dominated politics, Corporate America, Wall Street, Hollywood, a nd almost every other bastion of wealth and power in the United States from the 1930s through the 1960s; cas e and point, thirty-six of the forty-two men who have served as United States Presidents trace their ancestral roots back to the British Isles (2004) (256).
19 Americas European antecedents, and cultivated f rontier studies, narrating American history in terms of American immigrantss settling and de velopment of the Americ an Frontier (5-6). Decades later in the Great Depression, Adams also narrated the history of America in terms of American immigrantss initial dependence on and eventual estrangement from the American Frontier, stating that the la nd in the woodss had functioned as one of the most powerful forces which worked towards a democracy of feeling and outlook, toward the shaping of the American dream (33). In 1862, for example, an American head of house hold over the age of 21 could acquire 160 acres of land in the Ameri can West for $18.00 under the auspices of the Homestead Act. In The Epic of America Adams narrated settlers s continual westward movement and cultivation of American land in terms of manifest destiny, a phrase which was coined in 1845 to signify the mission of the Unit ed States to overspread the continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions (Stephanson xii). In Adamss formulation of settlerss pursuit and realization of the American dream, settlers had occupied the remaining free land by the 1890s, the same decade when Turner originally had claimed that the American Front ier basically had disappeared.17 Adams credited what he described as the complete absence of any lega l class distinction as the primary reason for American citizens and immigrantss continued b elief in the American dream at a time in American history when people primarily pur sued the American dream through a solitary 17 Academics have since refuted Frederick Jacks on Turners thesis in The Significance of the Frontier in American History. As Wallman notes, Far more public land in the trans-Mississippi West was taken up in the years after 1890 than in the y ears before (Faragher 6), and using Turners own definition of unsettled many frontier counties re main in the late twentieth century (98). Whereas Adams and others interpret the end of the American fron tier in the late nineteenth century as some sort of turning point in Americanss abilit y to experience the idealized Amer ican dream, Carpenter emphasized the psychological continuity of the dream into early twentieth century American culture, arguing that pragmatists bridged the philosophical gap between ni neteenth century transcendentalist philosophy and literature that generally valued th e American dream and tw entieth century realist philosophy and literature that generally distrusted the American dream (195).
20 venturing for a better job or a better pi ece of land somewhere else (170, 282). Adams interpreted the perceived closure of the rural American West and the industrialization of businesses on the eastern seaboard as serious impediments to Americanss belief in the American dream of an equitable social order. In addition, Adams interpreted the perceived occupation or exhaustion of the American Frontier as the impetus for a disturbing developm ent in American histor y: Americas extension of manifest destiny politics to neighboring nations, includi ng Puerto Rico, which the United States had acquired from Spain in 1899, Cuba, whic h the United States military had occupied for approximately six years at the turn of the cen tury (1899-02, 1906-09), and Panama. On Franklin Delano Roosevelts negotiation of the Panama Ca nal, Adams stated, the rawness of such imperialistic methods beat almost anything Europe had been guilty of (329). Adams compared American political and economic imperi alism in the Caribbean to European political and economic imperialism in the world, one fourth of which had been colonized by Europe from 1875 to 1914 (Stephanson 72). United States servi ce people had entered th e Caribbean at least twenty times from 1898 until 1920, and its political involvement in the Caribbean in creased after World War I (Bolland 5, 125, 442); the United States military occupied the Dominican Republic for almost one decade (1916-24) and Haiti for almost two decades (1914-34), establishing military bases throughout the British West Indies in 1941. As the influential Martinique-born literary critic Edouard Glissant has insightf ully noted, The United States of America is determined to show its military strength in the [Caribbean] region to head off destabalization (118), that is, the proliferation of socialist and communist leaders and regimes. Throughout the twentieth century, Caribbean au thors have addressed the United Statess political, economic, and cu ltural imperialism in th e Anglophone, Francophone, and
21 Hispanophone Caribbean, often focusing on the American-controlled Panama Canal Zone, socialist Cuba, and Haiti, the first Caribbean nation to achieve independence from European colonial rule. In Home to Harlem (1928), a best-selling novel on Ca ribbean American migration (Cooper ix), McKay strategically em ployed a Haitian exile in order to critique the United States governments political imperialism in Haiti at th e turn of the twentieth century (Lowney 413). In the mid-twentieth century, American and Caribbean novelists sign ificantly a ltered the stock plot of the hardworking or personable man of depression era success stories, focusing on educated workerss advancement in an increasi ngly corporatized prof essional climate (Long 64).18 In The American Dream and the Popular Novel Elizabeth Long has not ed that from the mid-forties to the mid-fifties popular American novelists generally focused on intellectually gifted men who achieved the American dream of upward mobility through formal education and traditionally masculine income-earning professions, such as law and medicine; women generally suffered if they ventured into the incomeearning public sphere through a conventionally masculine profession, and only periodically succeeded if they professionaliz ed their literary and artistic pursuits as actresses, authors, and c ourtesans (63, 72, 76). In the Toronto trilogy and other narratives of Caribbean American migration published si nce the mid-twentieth century, such as the African American Paule Marshalls novel of Afro-B arbadian American migration, Brown Girl, Brownstones (1959), the men generally suffered if they ventured into the incomeearning public sphere through a conventionally ma sculine income-earning professions, and only periodically succeeded if they assimilated to Euro pean American culture. In Clarkes Toronto trilogy (Chapter Three), the Afro -Barbadian economic migrant, Boysie, immigrated to Canada under the sponsorship of his wife; she immigrated independently under the auspices of the West 18 For more on the differences between the industr ialization at the turn of nineteenth century America and corporatization during mid-twentieth cen tury America, see David Riesma, C. Wright Mills, and William H. Whyte (Long 150).
22 Indian Domestic Scheme (1955-1967), which lega lized West Indian womens immigration to Canada as domestics (Kaup; Brown 374). Boys ie emulated his new boss, Mr. Macintosh, at Macintosh and Company, Stock Brokers in order to go up in the wo rld; he sold his janitorial services to Mr. Macintosh as part of his own cleaning corporation ( Storm of Fortune 257, 286). Contemporary critically acclaimed and emerging authors of Caribbean American migration narratives emphasized the ways in which Canada a nd the United Statess r acist labor policies and sexist immigration policies histor ically have privileged Caribbean women over men, resulting in Caribbean womens economic support of their family and Caribbean mens psychological trauma. Contemporary Caribbean authors have interprete d the experience of arrival in Canada and the United States in terms of the civil rights and black power movements, a critical turning point in peoples belief in the American dream. Clar ke included television c overage of Kings march on Washington D.C. in The Meeting Points (1967) opening chapter on black Barbadian economic immigrantss experien ce of arrival in Canada duri ng the 1950s and 1960s. In public addresses and sermons in the 1950s and 1960s, King restored the originally socially critical function of American dream rhetoric. In a co mmencement address (1961), which since has been printed as The American Dream, King stated, For in a real sense, America is essentially a dr eam, a dream as yet unfulfilled. It is a dream of a land where men of all races of all nationalities and of all creeds can live together as brothers. The substance of the dream is expressed in these sublime words, words lifted to cosmic proportions: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happine ss. This is the dream. (208) King defined the American dream in terms of the Founding Fatherss writing on all mens unalienable rights in the Cons titution and Declaration of Indepe ndence (Schlueter xiii), which has been referred to as the source-code or ch arter of the American Dream (Cullen 36, 59).
23 In subsequent addresses, such as Where Do We Go from Here? (1967), King emphasized the importance of actualizing the American dream: T his is no time for romantic illusions and empty philosophical debates about freedom. This is a ti me for action. What is needed is a strategy for change, a tactical program that will bring the Negro into the mainstream of American life as quickly as possible (249). King mentioned the ways in which his American dream had turned into a nightmare (257), the bombings, beatings, killings and arrests accompanying civil rights victories, in order to inspire people to continue our triumph and march to the realization of the American dream (229). Clarke al so wrote civil rights events into the Toronto tril ogy in order to encourage Afro-Caribbeans in Canada to join forces with African Americans in the United States. Contemporary authors of Caribbean Amer ican migration narratives often have traced immigrantss expanding field of id entifications in Canada and the United States, especially from originally nationalist Caribbean identifications to more transnationalist Pan-African identifications. The American Dream since the Late Sixties Since Kings assassination in 1968, American and Caribbean authors generally have treated the American dream as a fraudulent and harmful myth or as a pass clich, focusing on the social forces threatening Americanss real ization and estrangement from the idealized American dream of everyones equal access to life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (Brandt; Cullen 191; Madden xvi). Shortly after African American and women earned key legal rights through the passage of the Civil Rights Act ( 1964), Kings assassinati on symbolically brought down the curtain on the American dream (Harri s qtd. in Cullen 129), to quote a passage from the African American James Baldwins novel, The Fire Next Time (1963). The metaphors of an American dream of economic prosperity, freedo m, and equality gave way to metaphors of an American nightmare of poverty and raceand gender-based discrimination. Elizabeth Long
24 identified 1969 as the year when best-selling American novelists stopped narrating the successful economic rise of white men in a moral, ordere d universe (120). Kathryn Hulme interpreted authorss rhetorical shift from an American dream to an American nightmare as a sign of the the estranging aspects of immigration, on the slippage between Americas promiseequality, justices, prosperityand the culture they enter, causing Hulme to characterize the post civil rights era as the Generation of the Lost Dream (10), an especially appropriate phrase considering the fact that intellectuals used th e same phrase after World War I to express their growing disillusionment with American society (W allman 94). In addition, Hulme interpreted the rhetorical shift as a symptom of American ss loss of innocence a s not doing harm when pursuing the American dream (41). The increase in Caribbean migration to Nort h America after World War II, when voluntary outbound migration to North American and European metropoles first exceeded migration within the Caribbean (Puri 2), and the increase in Amer ican and Caribbean authorss fictionalization of voluntary Caribbean migration conceivably contributed to Canadians and Americanss awareness of the harm resulting from the American dream myth. In Continental Drift (1985), which the American-born novelist Russell Banks (1940-) published after briefly living in Jamaica, Banks emphasized the ways in which wo rking class white Americanss illegal pursuit of economic success in the United States actu ally jeopardized illegal Haitian American immigrantss survival. In the Trinidadian-born Neil Bissoondaths (195 5-) collection of short stories on Caribbean Canadian migration, On the Eve of Uncertain Tomorrows (1991), a middleaged Caribbean Canadian man expressed his own abandonment of the American dream of economic success: Is a good fifteen years I in Canada now, and Is livin proof that not every immigrant is a multicultural success story. Maybe is a quest ion of too much dreamin and not enough
25 doin; maybe is a question of dreamin the wrong dreams or doin the wrong things. But before I arrive here, nobodyespecially nobody in the Canadian High Commission back homereally tell me much bout this country I was goin to. It was all dream and gossip, what people say. They say, in Canada is: Y ou want a job? Heres a job. You want money? Heres money. But I find out quick-qui ck that to get a job, you have to have the trainin; to get money, you have to have money. And even then, it damn hard to hold on to the little you does mana ge to save. (150-51)19 An Indo-Caribbean woman similarly expressed w hy she lost her faith in the American dream after immigrating to Canada in the Trinidad -Canadian Shani Mootoo s (1958-) collection of short stories, Out on Main Street (1993): I used to think, if onl y I lived in North America! But here I am, in this place where these things are supposed to happen, in the midst of so much possibility, and for some reason my dreams seem even further away, just out of reach. Its just not quite as simple as being here (20).20 In Esmeralda Santiagos fi rst novel (Chapter Four), which she ironically titled Amricas Dream (1994), the Puerto Rican-born protagonist, Amrica Gonzalez, did not even desire to pursue economic success in the United States due to the United Statess political imperialism in Puerto Rico, especially the Navys bombing practice on the Puerto Rican island municipality of Vieques. The United States govern ment has maintained a military presence in the Caribbean in the latter half of the twentieth century, invading the Dominican Republic (1965-66) and Grenada (1983) and assisting in Jean -Bertrand Aristides dismantling of the Haitian military (1994).21 In contemporary narratives of Caribbean mi gration, male and female authors more thoroughly ground the protagonistss economic migr ation in the history of North American 19 For more of Bissoondaths writing on Trinidad Ca nadian migration, see this collection of short stories: Digging Up the Mountains (1985). 20 In the Antiguan-born Jamaican Kincaids critically acclaimed novel of West Indian American migration, Lucy (1965), the young West Indian American protagonist also concluded that she did not experiences the sense of freedom she desired thr ough immigrating to the United States (158). 21 For an excellent Chronology of key dates in Caribbean relations with Europe and the United States, see Mimi Sheller (204206).
26 political and economic relations with the Caribbea n, especially on the islands of Hispaniola and Cuba. In Edwidge Danticats nov el on Haitian American migration, Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994), the Haitian immigrants debated the United Statess economic and industrial involvement in early twentieth century Haiti, both criticizi ng Americanss treatment of Haitian cane cutters in the 1920s and applauding Americanss construction of Haitian roads (54); Danticat more fully addressed American economic imperialism on the island of Hispaniola in her interregional migration novel, The Farming of Bones (1998), on the mass exodus of Haitians from the Dominican Republic during the Dominican General Ra fael Trujillos massacre of Haitians in the thirties (Krohn-Hansen 53). During the Cuba Missile Crisis in the sixties, the United States government established a navy blockade near Cu ba and a trade embargo against Cuba. In Dreaming in Cuban (1992) and The Agero Sisters (1997), the second generation Cuban American Cristina Garcas explored Cubans and Cuban American immigrantss diverging perspectives on socialist Cuba and capitalist Unit ed States, alternating between rural Cuba and urban New York and Miami, the first and sec ond most popular destina tions for U.S. West Indians (Foner 83). In the Dominican-born Alan Cambeira s trilogy (Chapter Five), Azucr!: The Story of Sugar (2001) and Azucrs Sweet Hope. .: Her Story Continues (2004) on Dominican Canadian migration, he more critically examined the Dominican Republics trade and political relations with Canada and the United States, focusing on the Dominican nations shift from an export sugar economy to a service tour ist economy. Canadian and American investors and tourists have played a signi ficant role in the expansion of the Caribbean tourism industry (Cabezas 95; Sheller 33; Jimnez 29): tourism currently constitutes 16 percent of economic activity in the Caribbean, and as much as 50 perc ent in smaller islands like St. Lucia (World Travel and Tourism Council qtd. in Chittum A2). In Azucrs Sweet Hope. .: Her Story
27 Continues Cambeira both challenged North American touristss dream of the Caribbean as an island paradise and encouraged Dominican exiles to return home and restructure Dominican society through breaking the nations ties to global capital, especially to Canadian and American corporations and governments. Caribbbean-born authors from most regions of the Caribbean have written within and against the rhetorical tr ope of the American dream to critically engage the Caribbeans fraught relations hip with North American politic al and economic imperialism. Even a brief sketch of the flows of people, trade, and military forces across Caribbean American borders clarifies why Caribbean-bor n writers have mentioned North America in textual documents ranging from autobiographies to novels and poetry; however, a theoretical framework has not been developed to understa nd Caribbean authorss treatment of North American and the American dream. Literary cr iticism of Caribbean migration literature has focused on the ways in which Caribbean authors have simultaneously written within and against narratives of European imperialism, Caribbean nationalism, and Caribbean regionalism. The dominant histories and theories of Caribbean literature traditionally have privileged its colonial and anticolonial contexts. In Writing in Limbo: Modern ism and Caribbean Literature (1992) Simon Gikandi mentioned Caribbean -born authorss narratives of American migration, such as the Jamaican-born Michelle Cliffs (1946-) na rrative of Jamaican American migration, No Telephone to Heaven (1987), in a chapter on Caribbean wo mens writing; however, Gikandi primarily focused on the ways in which the Ca ribbean imagination is sustained by the tug of both Europe and Africa (11), in order to revise European narrati ves of Caribbean history (26). Perhaps literary criticss em phasis on the Caribbean writerss negotiation of European and African cultural influences explains why Caribbean author ss narratives of European immigration, such as Lammings The Emigrants and Selvons The Lonely Londoners and
28 African immigration, such as Edward Kamau Brathwaites The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy (1973), have emerged as some of the most wellknown and critically discussed narratives of Caribbean migration. Cultural studies scholars have shifted the literary critical focus from traditional colonial/anticolonial approaches to Caribbean li terature to indigenous Caribbean identity and vernacular traditi on, as exemplified by Brathwaites c oncept of nation language (Davies and Fido 11).22 The heightened focus on nationalist di scourses has fueled cultural insiderism (Sollorss term), that is, the equation of a nati onal identity with a racial or ethnic identity (Hall 227). Nation-based analyses of Ca ribbean literature have also limited accounts of material and cultural production to what Gilr oy has called the the borders of essentially homogenous states (3-5). Focusing on nationalism has not necessarily excluded the United States and Canada from analyses of Caribbean literature due to the United States and Canadas political and economic involvement within various Caribbean nations. Ye t strictly nation-based analyses of Caribbean literature have excluded Caribbean literature that crosses nati onal borders. If we accept Brathwaites assertion that the central problem of Caribbean cu lture is not how to account for its totality but rather how to express the extraordinary complexity of what we call creolization, how to study the fragments/whol e (Caribbean Man 18 qtd. in Gikandi 20), then literary critics must recognize more fully the critical role of the United States and Canada in Caribbean literature. The sheer number and transnatio nal nature of Caribbean American migration narratives gesture towards recons idering nation-based paradigmss ability to account for early and contemporary Caribbean literature. 22 For more on nationalist Caribbean discourses, se e Gordon Rohlehr, Edward Brathwaite, J.D. Elder, and Maureen Warner-Lewis (Davies and Fido 11).
29 The diffusion of diaspora theory and di aspora studies from anthropology, geography, history, and sociology departments to English departments (Hennessy v; Puri 3) has created a space for literary critical studies of Caribbean narratives of migration to North America. Diaspora theory has accounted for Caribbean li terature that exceeds colonial/anticolonial histories, national borders, and the regional boun daries of the Caribbean. Emmanuel S. Nelson has clarified that the term diaspora was first larg ely used in the context of the Jewish experience outside the Jewish homeland, and more recently in the contexts of a va riety of transnational ethnic experiences (such as African, Chinese, and Armenian), diaspora literally refers to dispersalthe scattering of a peopl e (ix). Critical applications of diaspora theory to Caribbean literature historically have focused on the black diaspora. In The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1993), Gilroy has traced the concept of the black diaspora back to Martin R. Delaneys comparison of African Americans to Jews in The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States Politic ally Considered (1852) in the midnineteenth century (22). Gilroy primarily has focused on the dispersal of Africans across the Atlantic to the United States and Canada, negl ecting Caribbean narratives of North American migration. Notably, the Guyanese-born author Wilson Harris (1921-), St. Lucian-born Derek Walcott, and Trinidadian-born Dionne Brand (19 53) have used the diasporic metaphor of the slave ship to illuminate Caribbean culture and hi story, and in effect, break the dogmatic focus on discrete national dynamics which has characterized so much modern Euroamerican cultural thought (Gilroy 6). Shalini Puri has interpreted the absence of the Caribbean in Gilroys The Black Atlantic as a symptom of a wider neglect, an exclusion so extreme that it can properly be called structural (3): recent studies on Caribbean migration, such as Caribbean Circuits: New Directions in the Study of Caribbean Migration (1997) and Caribbean Migration: Globalised
30 Identities (1998) generally have used social scientific lenses to analyze outbound Caribbean migration (3). The social scientist Philip Kasinitz has used McKays Home to Harlem and Marshalls Brown Girl, Brownstones in order to illuminate the historical and material relations between West Indians and African Americans in New York City (258). Social scientific studies of outbound Caribbean migration have incorporated Caribbean American migration literature into their arguments desp ite the fact that the dominant l iterary critical approaches to Caribbean literature historically have neglected Caribbean American migration narratives. The award winning author and literary critic Antonio Be ntez-Rojo has expanded the triadic European, Caribbean, and African focus of Gikandis colonial/ant icolonial framework in order to include the North American context. In The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective (1993), which was originally publis hed in Spanish (1989), the Cubanborn Bentez-Rojo combined modernist accounts of Caribbean literature with Jean-Francois Lyotards perspectives on postmodernity and scientific research on Chaos.23 By Chaos, BentezRojo meant that within the (dis )order that swarms around what we already know of as Nature, it is possible to observe dynamic states or regular ities that repeat themselves globally (2). Bentez-Rojo concluded that even though there is no center or circumference to the Caribbean there are common dynamics that express themselves in a more or less regular way within the chaos and then, gradually, begin assimilating in to African, European, Indoamerican, and Asian contexts up to the vanishing point (24). By identifying Miami as one of many repeating Caribbean islands (4) an d Martin Luther King as sign of t he space in which the Caribbean connects to North America, a space of which jazz is also a sign (24), Bentez-Rojo shifted literary criticss attention from the Western Eu ropean world, the Eastern African world, and 23 For more, see Lyotards The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (1984), which was originally published in French (1979).
31 nation-building projects to the cu ltural flows connecting the Caribb ean to its western neighbors, the United States and Canada. Yet Bentez-Rojos analysis of Caribbean American connections often remains rather impressionistic. He has noted that the cultura l map of the Caribbean has included parts of the United States, because of strong plantation econo mies in the southern United States and the carnivals in New Orlean s, New York, and Brooklyn (306). Bu t his interpretation of the Cubanborn Nicols Guillns Los ros as a story of the oppressed races of America, (134) was one of the few instances when Bentez-Rojo specifically discussed the ways in which Caribbean literature has engaged the Caribbean s political, economic, and cultura l ties with North America. In effect, Bentez-Rojo has concluded, Contrary to the opinions of many I see no solid reasons to think that the culture of the Peoples of the Sea is negatively affected by the cultural consumerism of the industrial societies (20) Yet a significant number of Cuban, Dominican, and Haitian authors have represen ted uneven transnational relations in starkly negative light. Cambeira, in particular, has thoroughly exposed the connection between Canada and the United Statess material prosperity and cheap Caribbean labor in his Azucr trilogy, ultimately rejecting the American dream and its capitalist apparatu s as serious threats to Caribbean workers and nations. In the second novel, Azucrs Sweet Hope. the Dominican exiles returned home to break the Dominican Republics eco nomic and political ties to Canada and the United States. Caribbean authors of migration narratives to the United States and Canada have engaged critically with North American political and ec onomic imperialism in the Caribbean in similar terms as the foundational Caribbean authors ha ve engaged with the Caribbeans fraught relationship with colonial Europe.
32 Conclusion Caribbean authors have migrated voluntarily to North America throughout the twentieth century, and their literature has reflected the emer gence and evolution of th e rhetorical trope of the American dream. Every chapter of this study focuses on literature spanning a wide array of genres and literary movements in order to foreground the complexi ties in Caribbean-born authorss writing within and against North Ameri ca and the American dream. The chapters also emphasize Caribbean writerss divergent cultural and linguistic traditions: the authors and characters travel from various Caribbean count ries, including those w ith British, French, and Spanish colonial histories; the texts contains words, phrases, and passages written in French, Spanish, and Creole. Examining the literature in light of given traditions, including the Anglophone, Francophone, and Hispanophone tradit ions, represents the heterogeneity of Caribbean American migration narratives. Ex amining the literature in chronological order emphasizes the ways in which the themes and aesthetic techniques of Caribbean authorss American dream narratives change over time, of ten in accordance with the broad trajectory of European and African American authors s treatment of the American dream. North America and the American dream play a crucial role in Caribbean literature, especially in narratives of migration to the Un ited States in Canada. Major literary critical studies of Caribbean literature fail to account for the ways in wh ich Caribbean-born authors write within and against North America and the rhetorical trope of the American dream, because they primarily focus on the relationship between the Caribbean and European metropoles. Subsequent chapters explore a particular era during which the traditi onally masculine AngloSaxon Protestant American dream narratives have been reevaluated: the Harlem Renaissance and the Great Depression, the Civil Rights movement the post World War II era of immigration reform, and globalization at the turn of the tw enty-first century. For each of these eras, I
33 examine the work of a Caribbean-born author who engages with these issues: Claude McKay, Austin Clarke, Esmeralda Santiago, and Alan Ca mbeira, respectively. Each of these authors critically engage with North America in simila r imperial terms as Caribbean writers critically engage with Europe, adopting, revising, and subve rting the rhetorical tr ope of the American dream in poetry, fiction, and autobiographies.
34 CHAPTER 2 MIGRATION AND RACIAL UPLIFT IN CLAUDE MCKAYS WORK, 1911-1947 Introduction In poetry, novels, and autobiographical writing, Claude Mc Kay narrated AfroCaribbeanss migration beyond the colonial boundaries of the British West Indies. In his earliest work, Afro-Caribbean peasants pu rsued better salaries from Amer ican employers in the Panama Canal Zone than they could earn from landowne rs in the British West Indies, and AfroCaribbean intellectuals pursued cultural enlig htenment in England. After writing on AfroCaribbeanss economic and cultural migration in Jamaican periodical s and his first two collections of poetry, McKay migrated to the Unite d States in 1912. Literary critics have used the rhetorical trope of the American dream to narrate the Afro-Cari bbean peasantss and McKays emigration from Jamaica: the Afro-Car ibbean peasants in McKays work and McKay himself emigrated from Jamaica in order to pursue economic success on American-controlled soil in the Panama Canal Zone and the United States, respectively (D rake x; Maxwell xv). McKay did not begin to endorse or pursue the nationalistic American dream of economic success until the 1940s, nearly three decades afte r his initial arrival on American soil and one decade after James Truslow Ad ams coined the term in The Epic of America In his early Jamaican verse, McKay only briefly represented economic migration to th e American-controlled Panama Canal Zone as a marginally better alte rnative for the peasants working in the West Indies, not the means to rise from the base of socioeconomic society. In the majority of his poetic, fictional, and autobiograp hical writing, McKay protested the ways in which American industry and democracy, the rhetorical f oundations for the American dream of economic success, hypocritically and unjus tly contained Afro-Caribbeans and African Americans in the base of socioeconomic society. McKay only began using more popular and nationalistic
35 American dream rhetoric in the Catholic poetry that he publishe d in the 1940s, which contemporary literary critics and McKays own p eers traditionally have dismissed, in order to facilitate blackss socioeconomic rise on American soil. Early Poetry In the early poetry that McKay publ ished in Jamaican periodicals, the Daily Gleaner and the Jamaica Times, and in his first two collections of poetry Songs of Jamaica (1911) and Constab Ballads (1912), he gestured towards the economic and cultural factor s that shaped Jamaicanss migratory plans. Mc Kay addressed Jamaican peasantss desire to migrate to a major outpost of American political and commercial imperialism in the Caribbean in the early twentieth century: the Panama Ca nal Zone (Adams 357). In 1904, the United States government deployed war ships to assist in the Colombian province of Panamas secession from Colombia, and in effect, lease the Panama Canal Zone in perpetuity from the newly independent nation of Panama.1 McKay also addressed well-educated Jamaican ss desire to migrate to the center of the British Empire: England.2 In the poetry that McKay published in the Daily Gleaner, the Jamaica Times, Songs of Jamaica, and Constab Ballads from 1911 to 1912, he generally limited discussions of American and English migra tion to black Jamaican peasantss economic migration to the Panama Canal Zone and welleducated Jamaicanss cultural migration to England. In Peasantss Way o Thinkin, which was originally published in Kingstons Daily Gleaner in 1912, McKay transcribed the black Jama ican peasantss spoken rationale for 1 The United States government solely controlle d the Panama Canal Zone from 1914 until 1979, when control shifted to the Panama Canal Commiss ion, consisting of the United States and Panama. Panama began solely controlling the Panama Canal in 1999. 2 England had been legally controlling Jamaica sin ce the passage of the Madrid Treaty in 1670, and England treated Jamaica as a crown colony until 1944 when Jamaicans acquired adult suffrage and limited self government; Jamaicans earned political independence fro m England in 1962 (Sheller 206).
36 economic migration for a foreign white audien ce, because the foreign white audience held misconceptions on de sort o way that the black Jamaican peasants think on work and migration (11).3 Whereas the white foreigners had advi sed the Jamaican peasants to stay in the lowest economic strata of Jamaican society, the black peasants advised each other to migrate to the Panama Canal Zone and earn more money th an they could earn in the colonial British West Indies. The black male Jamaican peas ants candidly expressed the economic basis for transnational migration: We hea a callin from Colon, We hea a callin from Limon, Lets quit de tankless toil an fret Fe where a better pay well get. McKays representation of the Jamaican peasan tss thoughts on economic migration reflected the mass migration of tens of thousands of Jama ican economic migrants to Colon, Panama and Limon, Costa Rica from 1880 to 1920 (Maxwell xiv, 282) In the remaining stanzas, the narrator clarified that the poor, unemployed Jamaican p easants were willing to temporarily exchange their personal freedom and spiritual support system in the British West Indies for better access to higher-paying jobs in the American -controlled Panama Canal Zone: Though ober deh de law is bad, An dey no know de name o God, Yet dere is nuff work fe we hans, Reward in gol fe beat de bans. The migrant workers planned on returning to Ja maica some day after they had sen [enough money] back home to modest[l y] increase their familys econom ic status within the lowest strata of Jamaican society (11). The male Ja maican peasants did not think that they could earn enough money in the American-c ontrolled Panama Canal Zone to rise from the lowest strata 3 The pagination of McKays poetry and collecti ons of verse, including otherss prefaces and introductions to McKays verse, corresponds with the pagination of Claude McKays Complete Poems (2004) which William J. Maxwell edited and introduced.
37 of Jamaican society to the upper echelons of Jama ican society with the rich buccra [white] folk. Before McKay migrated to the United St ates in 1912, he represented the United Statess labor system in the Panama Canal Zone as economi cally better for Afro-Caribbean peasants than Britains labor system in the West Indies; howev er, McKay never suggested that Afro-Caribbean peasants emigrated en masse from the British West Indies in order to pursue and achieve what literary critics commonly refer to as the American dream of economic success. Biographers, literary critics, and McKay hims elf have exaggerated McKays own peasant status in Jamaican society when discussing his representation of Jamaican peasants in poetic, fictional, and autobiographical wr iting (Maxwell xii). In the pref ace to McKays first collection of poetry, Songs of Jamaica which McKay dedicated to the isla nds English-born governor, Sir Sydney Olivier (1859-1943), Walter Jekyll (1849-1929) emphasi zed McKays peasant heritage: Readers of this volume will be interested to know that th ey here have the thoughts and feelings of a Jamaican peasant of pure black blood. The young poet, aged twenty-two, spent his early years in the depths of th e country, and though he has now moved to the more populous neighbourhood of Kingston, his h eart remains in his Clarendon hills. He began his life as a wheelwright, but the trade was not to his mi nd, and he left it and enlisted in the Constabulary. (285) 4 The English-born Jekyll, who edite d and collected Afro-Jamaican fo lklore, apparently concluded his preface to McKays first collection of poetry with a brief biography on McKays rural, black, peasant roots in order to authenticate McKa ys writing on the thoughts and feelings of the black Jamaican peasants. In some of McKay s more openly autobiogra phical writing, including Negroes in America (published posthumously in 1979), A Long Way from Home (1937) and My 4 Olivier, a friend of McKays mentor Walter Jek yll (Maxwell 283), had worked extensively as a British Civil Servant in the British Caribbean before he first served as the Governor of Jamaica in 1901. In 1890, Olivier served as the Colonial Secretary of British Honduras. In 1895, he served as the Auditor General of the Leeward Islands. In 1898, Olivier worked as the Secretary to the West Indian Royal Commission. In 1900, Olivier served as Colonial Secretary in Jamaica.
38 Green Hills (published posthumously in 1979), McKay has also emphasized his rural, black, peasant heritage ( A Long Way from Home 11; Paquet 87). McKay was the eleventh son of the respect ed and wealthy sugarcane landowners Hannah and Thomas McKay and the product of Jamaica s colonial education system (Maxwell xiii; James 11; Cooper 8; McKay, A Long Way from Home 36). Although the peasants in McKays dialect poem, Peasantss Way o Thinkin, thought that they could not break out of the lower strata of a racially segregated class hierarchy, McKays own fath er had increased significantly his socioeconomic status and political influence in Jamaican society. As William J. Maxwell has noted in his insightful introduc tion to McKays poetic oeuvre, [Claude McKay] was the last of Hannah and T homas McKays eleven children and the one most accustomed to the advantages of his fa thers climb from day laborer to affluent commercial farmer. By 1912, Thomas McKay owned a hundred acres of productive sugar land and a cane mill of his own, which qualified him to vote in Jamaicas exclusive electoral system (James, 11; Coope r, 8). (xiii) As the eleventh son of a wea lthy and respected landowner, Cla ude learned Englands English from English-born teachers and English-made textbooks in the British West Indies ( Harlem Shadows 314). He also studied the cl assical texts of English lite rature and German philosophy with his mentors: his schoolteacher brother, U. Theo, and Jekyll (Brathwaite 20; Maxwell xiii). In keeping with his colonial ed ucation, the young McKay apparently regarded Englands cultural heritage much more dearly than the United Stat ess industrial development in the Panama Canal Zone. McKays Eurocentric education galvanized hi s written reverence for English culture, especially English literature. McKay wrote two fifths of his poetic oeuvre as sonnets, the rulegoverned verse of the European aristocratic tradition (Maxwell xxxv; Keller). He initially questioned the scope of Jamaican dialect (Max well xiv; Braithwaite 19), and therefore, had apparently internalized what the Barbadian-born poet, historian, and li terary critic Edward
39 Kamau Brathwaite has referred to as the sta ndard, imported, educated English idea that Jamaican dialect is bad or inferior English (2). In My Green Hills, the autobiographical publication that McKay wrote a couple of year s before his death in 1948 (Paquet 87), McKay admitted that he only published dialect poetr y in Jamaican periodicals and his first two collections of poetry after Jekyl l encouraged him to put the Jamaican into literary language ( My Green Hills 66 qtd. in Maxwe ll xiv). In the History of the Voice: Nation Language in Anglophone Caribbean Poetry (1984), Brathwaite listed Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads as the the first all-di alect collections from an Anglophone Caribbean poet; however, he did not describe McKays dialect wr iting as nation language, the kind of English spoken by the people who were brought to the Caribbean, not the official English now, because McKay wrote his Jamaican dialect verse according to English perceptual a nd literary models (5, 20). In the Jamaican poetry that McKay published from 1911 to 1912, he validated educated Jamaicanss desire to learn more in the hear t of the British Empire : London, England. Welleducated middle to upper class Jamaicans like Mc Kay and their fictional counterparts in poetry and prose yearned to migrate to the center of the English culture that they had learned to admire in the Anglophone Caribbeans co lonial education system. In Old England (1912), which was originally published in Songs of Jamaica, the well-educated Jamaican narrator confessed the duration and intensity of his longing to sail to England, which he then regarded as his cultural homeland: Ive a longin in me depts of heart dat I conquer not, Tis a wish dat Ive been havin from since I could form a tot, Tis to sail athwart the ocean an to hear de billows roar, When dem ride aroun de steamer, when dem beat on Englands shore. (45)
40 In the poems following five stanzas, McKay liste d the cultural sights and English individuals that lured his heart, mind, and body to Englands shore. They ranged from the banal factry chimneys and matches-children to the sacred ic ons of English culture: Saint Pauls Cathedral, de City Temple, and Westminster Abbey, where de great of England sleep, including John Milton, William Shakespeare, William Wordswort h, and our Missis Queen, Victoria de Good (46). In the earliest poetry th at McKay published in Jamaican periodicals and his first two collections of poetry, he represented England as the ideal migratory destination for educated middle to upper class Jamaicans. In the sixth and final stanza of Old Engl and, McKay implied that educated Jamaicans like himself could not rest glad an contented on their own native shore of Jamaica until they had personally visited these places and people and [a]ll deir sole mn sacred beauty in England (46). McKays well-educated middle to upper class literary successors in the Anglophone Caribbean, including George Lamming, C.L.R. James, and V.S. Naipaul, also have represented England as their cultural home land in the earlier works that they published before living extensively in England in the 1950s and 1960s (Lamming, The Pleasures of Exile, 13; James, Beyond a Boundary, 30). In the verse that McKay wrote and published from Jamaica, he did not extensively criticize American treatment of Caribbean workers in the Panama Canal Zone or English treatment of Jamaican subjects in Engl and; he emphasized the ways in which American industry and English culture could improve Jama icanss socioeconomic and intellectual status, respectively. Although McKay represented England as the idea l migratory destination for well-educated Jamaicans like himself, McKay first migrated to the United States after he earned the prestigious Jamaica Institute of Arts and Sciences medal fo r literary achievement in 1912. Literary critics
41 have mischaracterized McKays American migrat ion in terms of the popular American dream of economic success; a poor male immigrants pursuit of socioeconomic advancement on American soil (Drake x; Maxwell xv). In the introduction to McKays autobiography, A Long Way from Home the African American sociologist St. Clai r Drake (1911-1990) introduced McKay as one of many West Indian refug ees from a poverty exacerbated by overpopulation: Claude McKay was one of the more talented individuals in the stream of immigrants from the British West Indies who have been seek ing their fortune in the United States since the turn of the century (x; Untermeyer 643).5 As a well-educated, award-winni ng author and son of a wealthy Jamaican landowner, McKay would not have shared West Indian economic refugeess need to pursue socioeconomic success on American soil. In the same autobiography that Drake introduced, McKay mentioned two more plausibl e, less economically driven reasons for his American migration: completi ng his education and writing for a larger literary audience ( A Long Way from Home 4, 20). In the United States, McKay shed his respectable status as an esteemed poet in Jamaican society and student in American society. McKay enrolled in and withdrew from agricultural science programs at Booker T. Washingtons (c 1856-1915) Industrial Institute at Tuskegee, and Kansas State College ( The Negroes in America 16). In 1914, McKay permanently left academia and took a series of low paying, low status jobs with African Americans in American service industries ( A Long Way from Home 41). McKay has explained why he abandoned his literary prestige and wealthy parentss sugarcane land in Jamaica, and two agricultural science programs in the United States in order to join the African American wo rking class at the socioeconomic base of American society: 5 Franklin Delano Roosevelt founded the Federal Writers Project in 1935.
42 I was gripped by the lust to wander and wonder. The spirit of the vagabond, the daemon of some poets, had got hold of me. I quit college. I had no desire to return home. What I had previously done was done. But I still cherishe d the urge to creative expression. I desired to achieve something new, something in the spirit and accent of America. Against its mighty throbbing force, its grand energy and pow er and bigness, its bitterness burning in my black body, I would raise my voice to make a canticle of my reaction. (4) Although McKay initially had resisted Jekylls ad vice to write in the language of Jamaican peasants, and therefore, against th e grain of old English culture ( My Green Hills 66 qtd. in Maxwell xiv; Maxwell xiv), he st rongly desired to write both in the spirit and accent of America and against Americas power and bigness ( A Long Way from Home 4). McKay was one of many Caribbean-born wr iters and intellectua ls who voluntarily migrated to the United States before the end of World War I and publis hed their work with American-based newspapers, magazines, and pre sses. The Puerto Rica n-born Arthur Schomburg (1874-1938) migrated to the United States in 1891 and published influential pamphlets and bibliographical studies, including The Negro Digs Up His Past, which the African American Professor and editor Alain Lo cke (1885-1954) included in The New Negro (1925) (Newman 2016).6 The St.Croix-born Hubert Harrison ( 1883-1927) migrated to New York in 1900, contributed to American newspa pers and magazines, edited Negro World, the literary organ of the Jamaican-born Marcus Garveys (1887-1940) black nationalist, Back-to-Africa movement, and published books on race in the United States and Africa. The Jamaican-born Joel A. Rogers (1883-1966) migrated to the United States in 1906 contributed to American newspapers and political magazines self-published a short novel, From Superman to Man (New York 1917), and also published a series of non-fiction works on race, including Nature Knows No Color-Line: Research into the Negro Ancestry in the White Race (New York 1952) and Worlds Great Men of 6 Schomburg also collected and curated literature on African and African American history at Fisk University and the New York Public Library (Newman 2016).
43 Color (New York 1972) (Simba 49, 52, 63, 66).7 The Jamaican-born W. Adolphe Roberts (1886-1962) also contributed to American newspapers, magazines, and collections of poetry in the 1910s and 1920s (Roberts 916). From the 1920s to the 1950s, Roberts published numerous book-length fiction and nonfiction works, which he generally set in New Orleans, South America, and the West Indi es (Roberts 916; Ramchand 279).8 W.A. Domingo (1889-1968) migrated to the United States in 1912 when McKay also emigrated from Jamaica; Domingo also contributed to the Negro World, A. Philip Randolphs black socialist newspaper, the Messenger, and the Nevis-born Cyril Brigg s socialist newspaper, the Crusader (Robinson 633).9 Garvey, who organized the first American branch of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, migrated to the United States in 1916 and published his speeches in the Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey (1923) (Hill 904).10 The British-Guyanese-born Eric Walrond (1898-1966) migrated to the United Stat es in 1918 at the age of twenty, published numerous articles and short stories in political and popular magazines and also published a collection of short stories on the Panama Canal Zone, Tropic Death (1926). The American publishing industry afforded Caribbean-born write rs and intellectuals the opportunity to publish their writing more cheaply and easily than they could publish th eir writing in the Caribbean, 7 Rogers became a United States citizen in 1917 (Simba 49). 8 In the 1920s, Roberts began publishing novels generally set in New Orleans or South America (916), including The Mind Reader (1929), The Moralist (1931), The Pomegranate (1941), Royal Street (1944), Brave Mardi Gras (Indianapolis, New York 1946), and Creole Dusk (1948) (Ramchand 279-80). In the 1940s, Roberts began publishing nonfiction bo oks on New Orleans and the West Indies, including Lands of the Inner Sea (1948), Havana: The Portrait of a City (1953), Jamaica: The Portrait of an Island (1955), and Lake Pontchartrain (1956) (Roberts 916). 9 Domingo returned to Jamaica in 1923. 10 The United States government deported Garvey to Jamaica in 1927, after he was released from prison on mail-fraud charges; Calvin Coolidge commuted Garveys five-year mail fraud sentence.
44 which did not yet have an established publis hing industry (Herring qtd. in Ramchand 73; Ramchand 73). McKay published his first collecti on of verse with an American press after he had sailed from America to England in 1919. During McKa ys first six years in the United States, he rarely submitted verse to American editors ( A Long Way from Home 19). In 1916, McKay submitted four poems to one prominent African American contributor to the Boston Evening Transcript and editor of the Anthology of Magazine Verse William Stanley Braithwaite (18781962), and in 1917, McKay published his first two poe ms in an American cultural magazine, the Seven Arts (Maxwell 302; A Long Way from Home 26).11 McKay carried over the self-deprecating lessons of his English colonial education to his earliest American verse. In 1912, McKays Engl ish-born mentor, Jekyll, had publicly questioned the maturity, masculinity, and rationality of McKays writing in his preface to McKays first collection of poetry Jekyll introduced McKays negro writing in his preface to Songs of Jamaica as a naive and feminine version of masc uline English; preeminently a language of love (283). McKay embodied Jekylls infant alization, feminization, and sensualization of his poetry in the earliest American vers e that he submitted to Braithwaite and Seven Arts from 1916 to 1917. McKay submitted his earliest American verse under feminine pseudonyms that echoed the names of his daughter and mother (Maxwell 303; A Long Way from Home 26). The feminine pseudonym Rhonda Hope echoed the name of McKays infant daughter, Rhue Hope McKay (Maxwell 303), and Eli Edwards echoed th e maiden name of McKays mother, Hannah 11 In 1916, McKay sent In Memoriam: Booker T. Washington, Remorse, My Ethiopian Maid, and My Werther Days to William Stanle y Braithwaite under the pseudonym Rhonda Hope (Maxwell 302). In October of 1917, McKay publ ished two sonnets, Invocation and Harlem Dancer, in the Seven Arts under the pseudonym Eli Edwards (Maxwell 3034).
45 Ann Elizabeth Edwards McKay ( A Long Way from Home 26). The feminine pseudonyms sexualized his early American verse on the African American icon Booker T. Washington. In the second and final stanza of Remorse, which McKay mailed to Braithwaite with In Memoriam: Booker T. Washington one year after Washingtons death in 1915, the implied female narrator and actual male author implic itly mourned Washingtons absence in veiled sexual terms. Rhue/Claude mourned that he/she did not give the recently deceased man what you asked before, the cherished myrtle leaf, which as Maxwell has noted, traditionally symbolizes Venus and/or the female genita lia (Remorse 130; Maxw ell 303). Braithwaite, unaware of the poemss male author, advised Rhue to mask her racial identity because of the almost insurmountable prejudice against all things Negro ( A Long Way from Home 27). McKay did not revise his alrea dy self-feminizing submissions in order to appease racist American readers (Maxwell 303). Proletarian Writing On the contrary, McKay began publishing race and labor-conscious protest poetry under his own name in two of New Yorks labor-c onscious publications. In 1918 and 1919, McKay published protest poetry in the monthly Pearsons Magazine which the Irish-American Frank Harris (1856-1931) edited from 1916 to 1922, and the Liberator, which Max Eastman (18831969) founded after the Masses in 1918 and edited until 1922 (Pearsons 834; Eastman; The Liberator 608).12 In To the White Fiends (1918), The Conqueror (1918), The Dominant White (1919), and A Roman Holiday (1919), McKay protested fiendish, savage 12 McKay published Two the White Fiends, The Conqueror, and Is it Worth While? in Pearsons Magazine in September 1918 and Soul and Body in December 1919 (137) McKay published The Dominant White, A Capitalist at Dinner, The Little Peoples, A Roman Holiday, and If We Must Die in the Liberator from April to July 1919 (134, 1367, 177). In the fall of 1919, McKay also published poetry, including Labors Day and JAccuse in the Messenger, which Max Eastman edited after he left the Liberator (1378).
46 white men for murdering his black brothers and taking their land (132 ). After McKay had lived and worked in the base of American society, he began to emphasize the ways in which Americas social mores of racial segregation re stricted blackss socioeconomic advancement and movement on American soil. In The Dominant White (1919), McKay presaged a reckoning day for the white men who stultify the dreams of visioned [black] yout h (135); however, he did not prescribe the means for white and black men to amend the United Statess racially segregated socioeconomic system and national space, because he felt that whites and blacks were trapped in Americas social mores of racial segregation ( A Long Way from Home 55). Instead, McKay published fatalist poems in the Liberator during the summer of 1919 when tw enty-five race riots erupted in American cities (Great 400). In A Roman Holiday and The Little Peoples, McKay contrasted the United Statess aid for European s during World War I with the United Statess abandonment of Africans and torture of black s within the United St ates, especially the southern United States where he began his Am erican education (A Roman Holiday 137). In the second and final stanza of The Little Peoples, McKay stated, But we, the blacks, less than the trampled dust, Who walk the new ways with the old dim eyes, We to the ancient gods of greed and lust Must still be offered up as a sacrifice[.] (136) McKay also represented death as an inevitably bleak outcome for blacks in If We Must Die, one of his most critically accl aimed, popular, and republished poems: If we must die, O let us nobly die, So that our precious blood may not be shed In vain; then even the monsters we defy Shall be constrained to honor us though dead! (177)
47 During the summer of 1919, which the African American diplomat and author James Weldon Johnson appropriately coined the Red Summ er of 1919 (Cunningham 1183), McKay somberly advised blacks how to better cope with their violent exclusion from American industry and Democracy (A Roman Holiday 137).13 Later that year, se ven years after McKays American migration, he physically distanced himsel f from the deep-seated, violent symptoms of Americas racially exclusive American industr y and democracy: he accepted money from a wealthy foreign couple who admire d his protest poetry in order to sail to Engla nd, the country that he had represented as his cultural a nd political homeland in his Jamaican verse ( A Long Way from Home 42, 59; Old England 45). During McKays first two years in England, Britonss racist treatment of McKay and other black men, including those who had fought for the Allied Forces in World War I, destabilized McKays remaining youthful admiration of Engl and and the English, and also bolstered his appreciation of Americas active race-based and labor-conscious organizations. White Londoners did not want McKay to live in or even temporarily inn in England; they repeatedly refused to rent him a room when they saw that he was black ( A Long Way from Home 57, 303). McKay worked for lodging at the English-bo rn Sylvia Pankhursts London-based Marxist weekly newspaper, the Workers Dreadnought (67) which she had started as the Womens Dreadnought for working class women (Pankhurst), and also contributed to Garveys Negro World One year after arriving in England, McKa y published his third collection of verse, Spring in New Hampshire (1920) without the spirited raci al protest poem, If We Must Die, that the editors of Pearsons Magazine and The Liberator had fought over in the United States (147). 13 People ranging from McKays African American coworkers on the Pennsylvania Railroad and African American writers to Russian soldiers and English government leaders have heard, read, or recited If We Must Die since he published the poem in 1919 (Davis 38 qtd. in Hegler; A Long Way from Home 31; Braithwaite 19; Maxwell 332; The Negroes in America 210). As Ramchand has noted, The piece was reprinted in almost every proNegro magazine and newspaper in America (243).
48 British reviewers still wrote negative, racist reviews of his third collection of verse: they freely expressed their amusement at a black mans atte mpt to publish poetry, and their concern for the moral implications of his love poems (Drake xii; A Long Way from Home 88). Even the Irish playwright and social propaga ndist George Bernard Shaw, whom McKay previously had regarded as the wisest and mo st penetrating intellectual alive, encouraged McKay to exchange his literary career for a more lucrative car eer for a black man: boxing (60, 248). McKay continued writing in England until the Scotland Ya rd investigated, arrested, and/or deported the labor-conscious, anti-imperialist wr iters who contributed to the Workers Dreadnought ( A Long Way from Home 67, 75, 77, 87). In 1921, McKay accepted financial assistance from the radical United States-based industrial un ion, the Industrial Workers of the World, to return to the United States, especially New York (Okhrimenko xvii).14 In literary and openly autobiographical wo rks in the 1920s and 1930s, McKay contrasted the visual beauty of the United Statess industrial cityscapes with the ways in which this American beauty rejected and harmed him and ot her male working class black immigrants. In Spring in New Hampshire, Harlem Shadows: The Poems of Claude McKay (1922), which included numerous laborand race-conscious protes t poems, such as the renowned poem, If We Must Die, and his first published American autobiography, A Long Way from Home, McKay contrasted the eye-dazzling faade of Amer ican industrythe citys undulating lights, vivid scenes, and gorgeous pageantswith the unpleasant realities lurking inside American industrys alluring facade, namely its dehumaniz ing treatment of the black men who constituted 14 The Continental Congress of the Working Cl ass established the Industrial Workers of the World in Chicago, Illinois in 1905. According to P. Okhrimenko, the original translator of McKays labor-conscious publication, The Negroes in America, McKay joined the Industrial Workers of the World in 1919 (xvii).
49 Americas working class ( A Long Way from Home 156, 215). In A Long Way from Home, McKay wrote the following on his emotiona l 1921 return to the United States: Oh, I wished it were possible to know New York in that way onlyas a masterpiece wrought for the illumination of sight, a splendor lifting aloft and sheddi ng its radiance like a searchlight, making one big and great with fe eling. Oh, that I should never draw nearer to descend into its precipitous gorges, wher e visions are broken and shattered and one becomes, one of a million, average, ordinary, insignificant. (95) Despite the ways in which America painfully ha d broken and shattered his visions of New York City and Afro-Caribbean migrantss visions of socioeconomic advancement, McKay returned to New York City as a self-proclaimed literary pion eer in the American cityscape of his and other Afro-Caribbean migrantss dreams (133). McKay personified the United St ates and its industrial deve lopments as some sort of mistress who lured him and other black Jamaican men away from their y outhful love: the pure, enjoyable, leisurely, warm, and natural Jamaican countryside (Sukee Ri ver 147; When Dawn Comes to the City 180-81; North and South 159). In Sukee River (1920), which McKay originally published in Jamai ca in 1911 and then republished in Spring in New Hampshire the narrator confessed, I have been faithless to thee, Sukee River, as if he was cheating on his native land, Jamaica, with a new al ien land, the United States (147).15 In America, which McKay originally publishe d in the labor-conscious Liberator in 1921 and then republished in Harlem Shadows in 1922 (Maxwell 315) the narrator personified th e United States and its capitalist culture as a bestial, vampiristic, form idable female monarch who invigorated him even as she embittered, strangled, tested, and hated him: Although she feeds me bread of bitterness, 15 McKay originally published Sukee River in Constab Ballads and the Daily Gleaner (Kingston 1911); he republished the poem in the Cambridge Magazine (Summer 1920) and Spring in New Hampshire (Maxwell 308) Perhaps McKay had already internalized his separation from Jamaica by 1922 when he published the poem, When I Have P assed Away, and speculated that he would be buried under alien sod with not a tree or stone to mark the place (166).
50 And sinks into my throat her tigers tooth, Stealing my breath of life, I will confess I love this cultured hell that tests my youth! Her vigor flows like tides into my blood, Giving me strength erect against her hate. Her bigness sweeps my bei ng like a flood. (153) The narrators emphasis on Americas feline attri butes and teeth indicated that on some subconscious level McKay represente d his navigation of the United States in sado-masochistic terms, as an interaction with the sensually threatening and alluring Freudian figure of the monstrous-feminine. On the one hand, the narr ator subconsciously feared the potentially emasculating teeth of the fierce feline beast, the same imagery that McKay used elsewhere in the early 1920s and 1940s to represent Americas extraordinarily aggr essive capitalist system and exclusive democratic system ( The Negroes in America 31; The Cycle 259). On the other hand, the narrator loved the ways in with America sens ually coaxed him into her and the working class that fueled the powerful b east of American capitalism.16 The narrators erect entry into the mistress America and the capitalist society that she symbolized authenticated McKays masculinity and inspired McKay s writing, which brought him great personal joy; however, rejection a ccompanied McKays penetration of Americas attractive veneer.17 Americas social mores of racial segregation, which McKay described as the white unwritten law that prohibits free so cial intercourse between coloured and white, especially wore on McKays literary sp irit and sense of personal freedom ( A Long Way from 16 Later in life, McKay masculinized his representati on of America, and therefore, his own identity as author and worker within and against America. In The Cycle, McKay wrote, The white man is a tiger at my throat / Drinking my blood as my life e bbs away, / While saying that his terribly striped coat / Is Democracys and means the Light of Day (259). 17 In A Long Way from Home, McKay admitted, The publication of my first American book uplifted me with the greatest joy of my life experience (148).
51 Home 132).18 In The Citys Love (1922), McKay wr ote that America would only accept him if she was neither aware of his black skin nor ali en birth in the Caribbea n: only then the great, proud city, seized, with a strange love, / [b]owed down for one flame hour my pride to prove (158). Returning to the shadows of Harlem agai n in the flesh and in his first collection of American verse, Harlem Shadows, temporarily restored his sens e of belonging to the African diaspora, just as returning to the Liberator as an associate editor temporarily restored his sense of belonging to an interna tional labor movement ( A Long Way from Home 95). The bourgeois elements of the predominat ely black United States-based literary movements, such as Lockes New Negro Arts Movement (Wright 1335; Lewis 998), and the aesthetically restrictive elements of the pre dominately white United States-based literary movements, such as the working class, labor-con scious Jewish author and editor Michael Golds (1893-1967) proletarian writing tested McKays allegiance to these black and working class literary movements. In the 1920s, McKay met African American men involved in the New Negro Arts Movement, including Johnson (Cunningha m 1183), in order to persuade them to make their academic and artistic racial uplift efforts more class-conscious ( A Long Way from Home 134); however, McKay wrote that he had los t the rare feeling of a vagabond feeding upon secret music singing in [him] after he had only br iefly circulated in thei r bourgeois social circles (114, 150).19 McKay also lost his desire to work on the Liberator after Eastman resigned and 18 In A Long Way from Home, McKay gave numerous examples of racial segregation in America. Restaurants refused to serve McKay when he dined w ith white friends (134). A theatre refused to honor McKay's front row seats for a play that he reviewed for the Liberator ; the usher moved McKay and his white friend to the balcony (144). Police broke up an interracial Liberator gathering (149). A bouncer refused to let McKay enter an all-black Harlem cabar et with his white friend, Max Eastman (132). In order to avoid these interracial barriers, McKay so cialized less with white friends in public places (135). 19 Johnson descended from Caribbean American immi grants: Johnsons parents emigrated from the Bahamas (Lowney 417).
52 Gold significantly limited the aesthetic scope of the left-wing magazines content in order to emphasize proletarian issues ( A Long Way from Home 138; Liberator 608). In 1921, McKay left the Liberator (Drake xiii), and in 1922, he left the United States for the second time: he worked as a stoker on an A tlantic steamer in order to move towards a geographical center of social and revolutionary reorganization, Russia ( A Long Way from Home 149, 153; The Negroes in America 90; Maxwell xvi; Drake xiii; Ohrimenko xviii).20 After living and writing in the United States England, and Russia, McKay used his more openly autobiographical works to emphasize the ways in which Americas democratic system of government afforded him and other labor-conscious race-conscious, anti-imperialist writers more freedom to write against white industrialis ts and imperialistss exploitation of black workers than Englands aristocratic, imperial system of government or Russias bureaucratic post-revolutionary political system ( A Long Way from Home 179, 198). In Negroes in America, which McKay wrote while traveling thr ough Russia in 1922 and 1923 (Mc Leod vii), and A Long Way from Home McKay continued to represent America as an economically sound destination for black economic migrants. 21 McKay stated that West Indi an economic migrants would find better food, dress, and shelter under the American form of government than they would ever find under the British form of government in th e British West Indies, where the West Indian Negroes languish under the strain of unbearable e xploitation by British landlords, and every year 20 After McKay attended a reunion in London for the International Socialist Club, McKay traveled to Berlin to visit Whitehead, whom McKay had befri ended while working with the Pankhurst group in the Worker's Dreadnought ( A Long Way from Home, 156) Whitehead helped McKay enter Russia. In a December 1923 issues of Crisis, McKay wrote that the State Publishing Department of Moscow had commissioned him to write on the American Negro (qtd. in McLeod x). 21 An American press did not publish the work in English until 1979, six years after Wayne F. Cooper had discovered a Russian translation of McKay' s English manuscript in the Slavic section of the New York Public Library (McLeod viii).
53 thousands are more ready to emigrate to South America, Central America, Cuba, and the United States than to bear the difficult economic cond itions and unbearable poverty to which they are doomed by the British form of government ( The Negroes in America 51). In addition, McKay acknowledged that Americas democratic form of government had enabled the organization of black and labor-conscious movements. The educat ed male leaders of these organizations and movements historically had not focused on raisin g blackss class consciousness; however, they had laid the groundwork for the orga nization of the black working force, historically the most exploited class in American life (4, 23; A Long Way from Home 350).22 Even as McKay praised Americas democratic system of government, he vilified white Americans for limiting blackss participation in American democracy and industry. In The Negroes in America McKay represented blacks as the nightmare of American democracy, because of their persistent atte mpts to rise in American indus try and participate in American democracy, despite the dominant whitess persiste nt attempts to contain blacks in American societys lowest socio economic strata (51).23 McKay stated, Negroes are striving for many th ings, but white Americans are striving with all their might not to allow them to come close to achievi ng anything. But at the same time that they resist with all their might allowing twelve-m illion black-skinned Americans, a good half of whom are workers, into their in stitutions, the Negroes in their tu rn exert all their efforts to gain victory. (54) 22 In Russia, McKay attended the Fourth Communi st Congress under the auspices of an honorary colonel of the Red army, Sen Katayama, whom he had met while working on the Liberator in the United States ( A Long Way from Homes 157, 159, 165). After the literary organ of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, the Bolshevik printed in December 1922 that McKay was not a communist, McKay himself replied in the Bolshevik the following day that he was a Communist ( The Negroes in America 89). In A Long Way from Home, McKay admitted, I knew myself enough to know that I was not the stuff of a practical pioneer, who could become a link that mighty chain of the upbuilding of the great Russian revolution (203). 23 Indeed, in his 1937 autobiography, A Long Way from Home, McKay explained that he wrote the poem The White House in order to expose the racist el ements of the vast modern edifice of American Industry, which Negroes were effe ctively barred as a group (313).
54 In order to express the extreme degree to which whites physically excluded blacks from participating in the United Statess industry a nd democracy, McKay stated, in the United States there is no room for a Negroonly in lynching (53). McKay argued that African Americans should cultivate a spirited, class-conscious collectiv e, because [r]arely does one of the Negroes succeed in raising himself up through the conve ntional means of individual hard work ( A Long Way from Home 63, 350).24 If McKay truly believed in the need for a black working class organization and blackss ability to form such an organization in the United States, and he was truly i n love with the large, rough unclassical rhythms of American life ( A Long Way from Home 249), then why did he travel through Europe, mingling with white m odernist expatriate write rs who disdained the United Statess literary culture and puritanical atmosphere after he left Russia in 1923 (188, 226, 230, 243)?25 According to Maxwell, FBI survei llance had blocked McKays return to the United States, and therefore, did its part to dislocate McKay from a number of black modernist movements, including the Harlem Rena issance (xviii). In McKays words, the Harlem Renaissance suddenly bloomed when McKay lived abroad in the 1920s ( A Long Way 24 McKay did not think that a Negro bourgeoisie existed in America ( A Long Way from Home 319). 25 In A Long Way from Home, McKay extensively commented on white modernist writers, including Upton Sinclair, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingwa y, Gertrude Stein, and D.H. Lawrence. In Paris, McKay witnessed the flowering of the white modernist movement on the European continent: he mingled with white American expatriate writers like Sinclair ; he read and discussed the works of white American and British modernists, including Joyces Ulysses Hemingways In Our Time, and Steins poems, such as Melanctha (243, 246). Of these writers, McKay valued Lawrences ideological aim, the psychic and romantic groping for a way out of sexual inquietude and the incertitude of the age, and Hemingways artistic method, the artistic illumination of a certain quality of American civilization the hard-boiled contempt for and disgust with sissyness expressed among all classes of Americans (252). McKay refused to meet Stein and detested he r representation of black people in her work. McKay positioned himself on the perimeter of the white m odernistss highly stylized, pseudo romantic literature that bordered on the decadent (247, 250).
55 from Home 277), and faded when McKay permanently retu rned to the United States in the early 1930s (Lewis 1002). Home to Harlem (1928) Banjo (1929) and Banana Bottom (1933) Ironically, McKays political exile from Americas black literary modernist movement, the Harlem Renaissance, played a significant role in his movement towards the center of literary discussions on the Harlem Renaissance and th e Pan-African cultural movement, Ngritude ( A Long Way from Home 306; Senghor 27). While living in Europe and North Africa, McKay adapted his own experiences as a well-educated Caribbean American immigrant working in the United Statess service industry on the Pennsylvani a Railroad and writing in Marseille into his first and best-selling novel, Home to Harlem (New York 1928), and its sequel, Banjo: a Novel without a Plot (1929; Cooper ix).26 In Home to Harlem and Banjo, McKay began moving beyond the fatalistic messages of his early Ameri can protest poems: he began offering solutions to the United Statess political and industrial re pression of black intellect uals and workers in the United States and the Caribbean. In Home to Harlem and Banjo McKay told the story of a formally educated Caribbean American migrant, Ray, who bonded with working class African American men in bustling centers of black culture at the base of capitalist society after World War I. In Home to Harlem, McKay set Ray and the working class African American protagonist, Jake, in Harlem towards the end of the Great Migration (1910-1920), when thousands of African Am ericans living in the states of the former Confederacy moved to Harlem for work (Great 399). In Banjo, McKay set Ray and Lincoln Agrippa Daily, familiarly known as Banjo (3), in Frances oldest seaport, 26 In A Long Way from Home, McKay repeatedly mentioned the money that he had earned from Home to Harlem, including $1,000 that he received by mail in Casablanca, Morocco (306). But McKay never earned substantial royalties from his literary publications: according to Maxwell, McKay only earned $491.79 from his most lucrative literary publication, Home to Harlem (xix).
56 Marseille, in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance (296). In Home to Harlem and Banjo, McKay began casting the United States government and indus trys role in the mass migration of African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, and other members of the African diaspora in much more critical and political terms than he had done in his earl ier Jamaican, English, or American verse. In Home to Harlem, McKay represented the Caribbean American migrants entry into the base of American industrial society as a symp tom of American political imperialism in the Caribbean at the turn of the twentieth century (Ramchand 251; Lowney 413). After the United States occupied Haiti in 1915, United States o fficials imprisoned Rays father and murdered Rays brother for protesting the United Statess po licies. In effect, the officials prevented Rays family from funding Rays education at Howard University ( Home to Harlem 138), where Locke taught from 1912 until 1924 (Wright 1335). Ray subs equently took a job as a waiter on the Pennsylvania Railroad in order to fund his college education. Therefore, the formally educated, bilingual Caribbean American migrant candidly to ld his uneducated African American coworker on the Pennsylvania Railroad, Uncle Sam put me here ( Home to Harlem 137). Rays emigration story gestured towards Americas hist ory of political imperialism in the Caribbean region; the United States military occupied land in the Caribbean, including Haiti (1915-1934), Cuba (1899-1902; 1906-1909) and the Dominican Re public (1916-1924), at least twenty times from 1898 to 1920 (Bolland 5, 125, 442). Ray proceeded to use a geographical space of la te nineteenth and ear ly twentieth century American political imperialism, the Panama Ca nal Zone, to navigate his uneducated, African American coworker through a short history of American imperialism and black nationalism in the Caribbean. Ray told Jake, who had not even h eard of Haiti, that Haiti is an island in the Caribbeannear the Panama Canal ( Home to Harlem 131). As Carolyn Cooper has noted,
57 Like Harlem, the Panama Canal is a potent Af rican diasporic signifi er with which Jake would be familiar. Though the canal literally denotes the explosive severing of the umbilical cord that once joined two contin ents, it also, somewhat paradoxically, evokes bridges of sound. Another middle passage. In this place where so many dispossessed Africans risked their lives for the opportuni ty to make a living was created another meeting-place of African cultures. After Jake cognitively could map Haitis geographi cal location, Ray told Ja ke how Haitian slaves had fought for their independence from French col onial powers during the same historical period that American settlers had fought for their inde pendence from English colonial powers; however, Black Haytis independence was more dramatic and picturesque than the United Statess independence, because the Haitians defended thei r political independence from three leading European powers, France, Spain, and England (131). The political hi story of Rays nation, which already had declared its political indepe ndence from France in the early nineteenth century, assuaged Jakes own xenophobic attitude towards the history and culture of the black men living in the Caribbean and Africa; Jake be gan to identify with an international black community, culture, and history. By adapting McKays own Jamaican American migration narrative into a Haitian American migration narrative in Home to Harlem and Banjo he gestured towards the concept of an intrinsically valuable and rich Pan-African cultural history years before the Martinique-born poet and politician Aim Csaire co ined the phrase Ngritude in France around 1935 (Ganderton 187; Senghor 27), and in the French magazine Volants in 1939 (Ganderton 188), also grounded the Pan-African cultural movement in Haiti, where Ngritude first stood up and swore by its human ity (Csaire qtd. in Ganderton 187).27 In a 1959 interview, Csaire confirmed that Mc Kays writing, especially Home to Harlems French-based sequel, Banjo, had inspired the formation of his and Lo pold Sdar Senghors French-based Pan-African cultural movement (Jackson). 27 Andr Breton published a French/English edition of Cahier dun retour au pays natal (Return to My Native Land) in 1947 (Ganderton 187).
58 In Home to Harlem and Banjo, McKay represented Rays American education and job as barriers to his particip ation in a Pan-African cultural m ovement. Apparently due to Rays imperial, bourgeois American education, he could only narrate Haitis history of black nationalism and culture in the term s of foreign imperial nations th at had invaded the Caribbean. Ray used a literary piece of la te eighteenth and early nineteenth century imperial language (Brathwaites term 5), William Wordsworths sonn et on the late eighteenth century black slave and leader of the Haytian slaves Toussaint LOuverture, to communicate the possibility and beauty of blackss political and cultural liberation from Western colonial and imperial nations ( Home to Harlem 131). McKay offered a straightforward solution to the mentally oppressive lessons of Rays American education and th e confining atmosphere of his work on the Pennsylvania Railroad: emigration. In the end of the second and only part that Ray appeared in Home to Harlem, Ray withdrew from Howard, quit his job, and signed on to work on an international freighter; Rays emigration foresh adowed the more react ive dispersal of the remaining black Harlemites in Home to Harlems concluding chapter (275). McKay ended Home to Harlem on a subtly ironic note that emphasized African Americanss uneasy and inequitable participatio n in American democracy (Hegler). In the concluding chapter, two working class African American friends, Zeddy and Jake, fought over an African American sex worker whom they ha d both initially approached for services but quickly developed more emotionally intimat e feelings of personal ownership (328).28 After Zeddy saw Jake with Felice in a Harlem cabaret Zeddy flashed a razor and loudly heckled Jake for deserting the American army during World War I. In self-defense against Zeddy, Jake drew a gun, which was the gift alluded to in the concludi ng chapters title, The Gift that Billy Gave. 28 In The Beast (1920), McKay implied that the capitalist system in general makes men parasites or brutes / And tends to make all women prostitutes (144).
59 While defending himself from Zeddys desertion accusations, Jake explained the ways in which white American soldiers mistreated him and the other African Americans stationed in Germany: the white members of the American Army wouldn t give us a chance at them [Germans], but kept us in that rainy, sloppy, Ga wd-forsaken burg working like wops. They didnt seem to want us niggers foh no soldiers (331). In self-d efense against the loca l police who had been arresting and imprisoning African American desert ers from World War I, Jake and Felice fled from Harlem to Chicago. Felice told Jake th at her necklace would bring them good luck in Chicago. As Charles Hegler has noted, Felice an d Jake would arrive in Chicago on the eve of the Red Summer of 1919: Apparently, McKay was so intent on making the racial violence of the summer of 1919 a part of his novel that he skewed the chronology of the plot. The events of Part III should take place a year later, in 1920, but the novel be gins and ends in 1919 without an internal explanation for McKays very clear da ting of events in both sections. In Home to Harlem, McKay represented the American govern ments racist deployment of Jake in Germany during World War I and its racial prof iling of potential deserters in Harlem after the war as significant factors in Ja kes decision to exchange his pe rsonally satisfying life in Harlem for a potentially life-threateni ng existence in Chicago, miles away from his working class African American friends. In Banjo, which takes place approximately seven years after Home to Harlem in the French seaport of Marseille, McKay intensified and expanded his critique of the United States, especially its inequitable democra tic system and racially segregated industrial system. As Leah Rosenberg has noted, The internationalism of the group [of black men from Africa, the U.S., and the Caribbean] is an explic it rejection of nationhood (223). In Marseille, th e international group of black men also openly mocked the major symbols and concepts of the American nation. One African American southerner satirized the United States as the United Snakes, and the
60 simile struck Rays imagination, giving him a terrible vision of the stripes of Old Glory transformed into wriggling snakes and the stars poisonous heads lifted to strike at an agonized black man writhing in the mids t of them (117). The working class African American protagonist, Banjo, whose brot her had been lynched in the American South, also equated American democracy with violent forms of racism against its black citizens. Banjo concluded that the wul safe foh democracy is a wul sa fe foh crackerism after he fought for the Allied Forces in Europe during World War I in order us her in more civil rights for African Americans in the United States, as President Wilson ha d promised, yet saw nothing change when he returned to his tedious industria l job at the base of American industry (194). Whereas Jake worked within the base and accord ing to the rules of the racially segregated American industrial system in Home to Harlem after he returned from World War I, Banjo took drastic, even humorous measures to leave American soil: Banj o went to American immigration officials who had been deporting black men whos e nationality was doubtful and argued that they should also deport him (312). Whereas McKay celebrated Jakes honorable means of survival in Home to Harlem on the docks, where he refused to scab white strike rss jobs, and the Pennsylvania Railroad ( Home to Harlem 45), McKay celebrated Banjos creative and sometimes criminal means of survival. Banjo took a more active than re active role in navigating his ow n course through the racist and restrictive boundaries of the Amer ican nation and industry. In Mars eille, Banjo used the racist stereotypes that the American darky is the perf orming fool of the world today to earn money playing his Banjo and avoid a steady industrial job (14). Ba njo and another working class African American, Lonesome Blue accepted room and board from the consulate to return to the United States (301), which the narrator sarcastically defined as the fabulous land of wealth and
61 opportunity (19), but never boarded the United States-bound freighter wi th Jake, whom Ray now dismissed as too American (302, 305). In the novels concluding chapter, Banjos Ace of Spades, Banjo signed a false name for a months payment in advance to work on a potentially United States-bound shi p, but then used the money to travel through Europe with Ray. Whereas Ray had left the African American pr otagonist, Jake, and their African American acquaintances behind in the second part of Home to Harlem, Ray and the African American protagonist, Banjo, left their in ternational group of black men be hind in the third and concluding part of Banjo. Ray and Banjo still roman ticized African American folk culture. Ray, for instance, dreamed of the fascinating forms of Harlem, with undulating hips and voluptuous motion of feminine folds (284). But they chose to produce their own African American folk art, with Banjo playing Jazz and Ray writing on his inte ractions with African Americans, outside of the United States for two reasons. First, the Unit ed States denied blacks a legitimate place in society on their own terms (319). Second, Ba njo and Ray did not know how to create a legitimate place for themselves within the so ciety; how to arrest the super-mechanical Anglo-Saxon-controlled world societ y of Mr. H.G. Wells (324). In Home to Harlem, the Haitian intellectual taught Jake, the uneducate d, working class African American, how to intellectually appreciate his African heritage; however, in Banjo it was Banjo, the uneducated, working class African American musician who taught the Haitian intellectual how to live his life in a personally rewarding manner. In other wo rds, McKay implied that a Pan-African cultural movement should organically aris e from the nonconformist black fol k, not the trained labor force in Garveys Universal Negro Improvement Asso ciation or the black elite in Lockes Arts movement.
62 After the Great Depression in 1929, McKay conti nued to tackle issues of race and labor in his writing, but he began to cast the Afro-Caribbean economic migrants who whole-heartedly participated in American imperialism in the Caribbean in a much more critical light. In Banana Bottom (1933), the last novel that Mc Kay wrote during his political ex ile from the United States, McKay initially echoed his earlier representation of economic mi gration to the Panama Canal Zone in Peasantss Way o Thinkin and repres ented working in the major American outpost in the Caribbean as a desirable a nd logical alternative to working for much lower wages in the British West Indies; however, in Banana Bottom McKay rejected economic migration to the Panama Canal Zone and the American industrial society that it symbolized on physical, moral, and economic grounds. In Banana Bottom, which Ramchand has described as the first classic of West Indian prose (259), McKay narrated a young male Jamai can peasants individual economic rise in the Panama Canal Zone as the primary cause of the moral demise of himself and his male friends. McKay named the only young Jamaican peasant who regularly traveled between the Jamaican countryside and the Panama Canal Zone as a migrant worker Tacky Tally. The nickname foreshadowed elders and peers s disapproval of his Panamaerican clothes and Colon strut (67). Tacky Tallys elders, ranging from English missionar ies to a Jamaican Reverend, interpreted his excessive drinki ng, loud clothes and je welry, and bad manners as a serious threat to the moral fiber of their community (35, 67). The elders fear ed that his bold lack of selfrestraint would jeopardize the fu ture of their rural Jamaican community. Tacky Tallys peers regarded his Panamaerican attire, mannerisms, pe rspectives, and speech more positively than the elders, because they desired the money that it signified; however, the young Jamaican peasants also secretly resented his Panama ways whic h were equivalent to bad mannershis bold and
63 forward talk about the finest type of village folk as if everybody could be cooked together in the same pot (67). In the first novel that McKay published after Adams had coined the phrase and popularized the concept of the American dream, of that hope of a better and richer life for all the masses of humble and ordinary folk who made the American nation in The Epic of America (363), McKay wrote against the concept in its own terms. In Banana Bottom, McKay represented violent crime in the generally peaceful Jamaican countryside as a symptom of male Caribbean mi grant workerss interact ion with Americanss dehumanizing labor practices in the Panama Ca nal Zone. The economic migrant Tacky Tally murdered a town elder, Pap Legge, during a heat ed verbal and physical altercation over Tacky Tallys physical relationship with Pap Legges adopted Indo-Caribbean daughter, Yoni. The narrator linked Tacky Tallys murder of Pap Legge with his bare ha nds to his status as a migrant worker. In the only other instance of murder in the rural Jamaican community in the past decade, the murderer also had just returned fr om working in the American-controlled Panama Canal Zone. The Caribbean migrant workers allege dly earned as much as [e]ight times more in the Panama Canal Zone than they earned in th e British West Indies (35). But the American employers continued to dehumanize the Caribbean laborers; they viewed, valued, and treated the Caribbean migrant workers as efficient yet expe ndable tools, West Indian spades (148, 293). Although McKay had never traveled to the Pa nama Canal Zone like other Caribbean-born authors who migrated to and publis hed literature in the United States during the early twentieth century, such as Walrond, he also used the Panama Canal Zone to exemplify the ways in which the United Statess political and industrial development in the Caribbean significantly shaped the
64 flow of Caribbean emigration, and in effect, damaged the quality of Caribbeanss lives and communities.29 In Banana Bottom, McKay offered a more conventi onal, nationalistic response to Caribbean emigration and American e xpansionism than he offered in Banjo Whereas McKay grounded the formally educated Caribbean polit ical exile, Ray, and the uneducated African American self-exile, Banjos, rejection of the spiritually c onfining tentacles of American imperialism and industry in their tran snational, geographical movement in Banjo, he rooted Banana Bottoms protagonistss rejection of Americ an imperialism and industry in a commitment to local Caribbean production and pe ople. In the conclusion to McKays third novel, an English-educated Jamaican-born lando wner married an uneducated, peasant farmer. The marital union literally and figuratively enriched Bitas intellectual and artistic pursuits, as well as Jubbans agricultural pursuits: Her music, her reading, her thinking were the flowers of her intelligence and he the root in the earth upon which she was grafted, both nourished from the same soil, which Bita had inherited from her lan downing father, Jordan Plant (313). Therefore, David Lewis has argued, Banana Bottom represented a phil osophical advance over Home to Harlem and Banjo in its reconciliation thr ough the protagonist, Bita Pl ant, of the previously destructive tension in McKays work between the na tural and the artificial, soul and civilization (1017). Regardless of ones philosophical valu e judgments, Bita and Jubbans marital union 29 Walrond (1898-1966) migrated to the Panama Cana l Zone in 1911 with his family (Parascandola 12). Walrond wrote for the Panama Star Herald from 1916 to 1918 (13) After Walrond migrated to the United States in 1918, he published a largely autobi ographical collection of short stories on life in the Panama Canal Zone and Barbados: Tropic Death (1926) As Louis J. Parascandola has noted in Winds Can Wake Up the Dead: An Eric Walrond Reader (1998), the grisly deaths that occur in each short story link the collection of stories together (188). Walrond returned to the subject of Panama in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, publishi ng the article, Como de Hizo el Canal de Panama, in Madrids Ahora in 1934 (32), the journalistic essay, White Man, What Now?, in The Spectator in 1935 (279), and the short story, Morning in Colon in Kingstons The West Review in 1940 (310), Success Story in Roundway Review in 1954 (34), and also unsuccessfully publishi ng a story on the Panama Canal Zone in the 1960s when he died in England (35).
65 suggested a clear course of action for Caribbeans to arrest Jamaicas social standards of British colonialism, such as formally educated black women marrying white planters after the abolition of slavery, and Jamaicas emerging social standa rds of American imperialism and industry, such as the appearance of racially segregated hotel s (296). As David G. Nicholls has noted in The Folk as Alternative Modernity: Claude McKays Banana Bottom and the Romance of Nature, Banana Bottom implied that the development of peasant freeholds for subsistence farming will offer a relatively stable alternat ive for the Jamaicans living in a volatile global marketplace (94). Other Caribbean writers in the diaspora, including Austin Clarke, Esmeralda Santiago, and Alan Cambeira, have also publis hed thought-provoking litera ture on Caribbeanss responses to Europeans and North Americanss cultural, political, and commercial involvement in the Caribbean. Final Poetry Although McKay represented a return to ones native land as the best path for Englisheducated, Caribbean-born immigrants like Bita, and by extension, himself, McKay returned to the United States in 1934, one year after he published Banana Bottom, and he never returned to Jamaica. Upon returning, McKay entered a work camp and also worked for the United States governments work-relief program, the Federal Writers Project, which began under Franklin Delano Roosevelts Works Progress Administrati on in 1935 (Maxwell 367; Paquet 281; Mullen 361). McKays romanticized portr ait of America the beautiful continued to crumble under the pressure of years of her nightma rish realities, including the viol ent race riots, lynching, and the racial segregation that McKay returned to in his literary and autobiographical works from the
66 1910s to the 1940s.30 In the circa 1934 poem, Dr eams, which McKay included in a 1935 New Poems by Claude McKay notebook (Maxwe ll 351), McKay confessed that all too often his earlier, optimistic dreams of a better life beyond Jamaica devolved into horrible nightmares: [Dreams] are not bountiful now as before More often they are horrible nightmares, So many have been murdered in the roar And bloody terror of the marring years. (219) Judging by the concluding stanza of the poem, Mc Kay, like the educated Caribbean American protagonist in Home to Harlem resorted to literal and figurative distractions in order cope with the horrible nightmares accompanying daily life and also restore, albe it synthetically, his youthful, optimistic dreams. In the sec ond and concluding stanza, McKay wrote, O I have even drugged myself to dream Of dear dead things, trembling with hope to capture The sunlit ripples laughing on the stream That bathed my boyhood days in foamy rapture. (219) Apparently, McKay ultimately failed to evoke hi s youthful dreams, because in the 1934 poem, New York, which McKay also included in the 1935 New Poems by Claude McKay notebook (Maxwell 367), McKay cynically stated on New York poetss self-promotion, Our thoughts, our dreams are little prostitutes (240). After McKay returned from his political exile in Europe and worked for the United States gov ernment, even as a riveter in a World War II army war plant (Jackson), he wrestled with the fa ct that his youthful lite rary dreams had led him into a series of belittling, ill icit, capitalistic exchanges. In the final stage of McKays literary career, which editors have criticized and literary critics historically have overlooked (Maxwell 368), McKay represented Jesus Christ as a 30 According to Maxwell, Walter White and Ja mes Weldon Johnson, Harlem Renaissance elders with contacts at the State Department, intervened on Mc Kays behalf before he could return to the United States for good in 1934 (xvii).
67 sacrificial figure and concept who had helped him resolve his personal bitter experience of racial prejudice (241), literary criticism (241), and political cr iticism (247). In The Cycle, a collection of poems which McKay wrote in the early to mid-1940s but could not publish in his lifetime, McKay used the perceptual and lite rary models of the Bible to protest black Americanss exclusion from American demo cracy and white Americanss myopic focus on extending democracy to foreigners during World War II: Lord, let me not be silent while we fight In Europe Germans, Asia Japanese For setting up a Fascist way of might While Fifteen million Negroes on their knees Pray for salvation from the Fascist yoke Of these United States. Remove the beam (Nearly two thousand years since Jesus spoke) From your own eye before the mote you deem It proper from your neighbo rs to extract! (253) In the 1940s, McKay also represented Jesus Christ as a better means to bri dge the racial and class divisions that fueled blackss exclusion from the upper echelons of American industry and democracy, which McKay satirically referred to as Fascist Democracy for whites (256), than the aristocratic educat ion that he had endorsed in the 1910s or the communist and socialist movements that he had endorsed in the 1920s. After McKay joined the Catholic Church (Maxwell 384; Drake xxi), he primarily publishe d socially-conscious religious poetry in the Catholic Worker until 1947, when he died from a chronic heart ailment (Paquet 87; Drake xxi). In the end, McKay, like the up-and-coming African Am erican Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., used religion both to cope with his sh attered dream of America the beautiful and also inspire Americans to collectively work towa rds making a more equitable nation state and world.31 31 King attended Morehouse College from 1944 until 19 48 and also preached at his fathers Baptist Church in Atlanta before entering seminary; McKa y began delivering his most famous sermons and
68 Conclusion In literary and more openly autobiographica l works, McKay narrated his estrangement from aristocratic English traditions and his in creasing engagement with American industry in terms of two key elements of American dream narratives: Afro-Caribbe an immigrantss pursuit of economic advancement on American-controlle d soil and Americas extension of manifest destiny politics to the Caribbean, especially th e Panama Canal Zone and Haiti. McKay initially emphasized the benefits of American industry for Af ro-Caribbeans in his Jamaican verse. In his American and English literary and autobiographical works, he used varying means, ranging from proletarian writing in the 1920s to a romantic novel in the 1930s and religious sonnets in the 1940s, to achieve the similar ends : exposing, protesting, coping wit h, and also changing the ways in which American industry and democracy cont ained Afro-Caribbeans and African Americans at the socioeconomic base of American and Ca ribbean society. In effect, McKay actively disputed the popular early twentieth century American myth of th e American dream of socioeconomic success. McKay and other Caribbean-born authorss voluntary migration to the United States before World War I and prolific writing on Caribbean American migration with American-based newspapers, magazines, and presses supplemen ts the traditional accounts of Anglophone Caribbean literature, which gene rally historicize early Caribbean literature in terms of Caribbean-born authorss literal and metaphorical drift towards the audience in England during the 1950s and 1960s.32 Early Caribbean-born authors also wrote in terms of and against the public addresses, such as the 1963 I Have a Dr eam speech, in the late 1950s and early 1960s (Washington xvi). 32 For more on Caribbean migration to England in the 1950s and 1960s and Caribbean writerss adaptation of European literary models, see Ra mchands The Drift Towards the Audience in The West
69 American proletarian and Harlem Renaissance literary movements and the popular rhetorical trope of the American dream in the midst and wa ke of World War I and the Great Depression. Indian Novel and its Background (1970, 634), and Simon Gikandis Caribbean Modernist Discourse: Writing, Exile, and Tradition (3365).
70 CHAPTER 3 DOMESTIC WORK AND BLACK MASCULINIT Y IN AUSTIN CLARKES TORONTO TRILOGY, 1967-1975 Introduction In the 1950s, George Lamming, Samuel Sel von, V.S. Naipaul, and Austin Clarke immigrate to Europe or North America. Lamm ing, Selvon, and Naipaul immigrate to England in 1950, and Clarke immigrates to Ca nada in 1955. These emigrants from the British Caribbean subsequently publish influential literature on West Indian emigration in the 1950s and 1960s, critical decades in the history of de colonization in the British Caribbean,1 including Lammings semi-autobiographical London-based novel, The Emigrants (1954), and collection of essays on West Indian immigration to E ngland and the United States, The Pleasures of Exile (1960), Selvons semiautobiographical London-based novel, The Lonely Londoners (1956), and its London-based sequel, Moses Ascending (1975), Naipauls semiautobiographical England-based novel, The Enigma of Arrival (1987), and finally, Clarke s Toronto-based novels, The Meeting Point (1967), The Storm of Fortune (1973) and The Bigger Light (1975), which are collectively referred to as the Toronto trilogy. Clarkes Cana dian immigration and narration of West Indian immigration in the Toronto trilogy enrich historie s of foundational West Indian literature, which traditionally have focused on West Indian author ss physical and literary drift towards an English audience (Ramchand 63). In the critically acclaimed Toronto tril ogy, which is one of the earliest literary representations of the black West Indian immigrant experience in Canada (Birbalsingh x; Kaup; Misrahi-Barak 10; Nurse 250), Cl arke tells variations on the theme of working class West 1 British colonies in the Caribbean, including Jamaica (1962), Trinidad and Tobago (1962), Barbados (1966), Grenada (1974), Dominica (1978), Sa int Lucia (1974), St. Vincent and the Grenadines (1979), Antigua and Barbuda (1981), an d Saint Kitts and Nevis (1983), form the West Indian Federation in 1958 in order to facilitate decolonization in the region; the Federation disintegrates in 1962, following Jamaicas secession from the federation in 1961 and Trinidad and Tobagos secession in 1962.
71 Indianss pursuit of an American dream of economic success in Canada during the 1950s and 1960s, focusing on West Indian womens domestic wo rk and their loved oness sexual relations in The Meeting Point, the consequences of these legislated and illicit sexual relations in The Storm of Fortune, and one Afro-Barbadian mans achievement of the American dream through assimilation to wealthy wh ite Canadian culture in The Bigger Light Clarke emphasizes the ways in which immigrantss pursuit of material su ccess in Canada through legislated, illicit, and assimilationist means actually decreases their quality of living, eroding their self-worth and social ties, especially West Indian mens masc ulinity. In the Toronto trilogy, Clarke ultimately represents West Indianss pursuit of individual freedom beyond Cana da as a better path towards life, liberty, and happiness than pursuing the American dream of material success in racially unjust, wealthy, North American nati ons, Canada and the United States. The Meeting Point (1967) In The Meeting Point, Clarke begins the story of bl ack West Indianss economic immigration to Canada nearly th ree years after the novels AfroBarbadia n protagonist, Bernice Leach, had immigrated in 1960 to work as a domestic in Forest Hill, a wealthy Jewish neighborhood in Toronto (1, 5, 7). One of Be rnices closest female friends and one of The Meeting Points other female Afro-Barbadian prota gonists, Dots Cumberbatch, had also immigrated to work as a domestic in a wealt hy Jewish neighborhood in Toronto, Rosedale. Both Bernice and Dots immigrated under the auspic es of the Domestic Scheme, which Clarke mentions by name in the trilogys first chapter (9 0). The Domestic Scheme first legalized West Indian femaless large-scale immigration to Canada as domestics in 1955 (Kaup; Brown 37475). As Lloyd Brown notes, the Canadian government basically limited West Indian immigration to (female) domestic[s] and student s, including Clarke who immigrated to Canada in the mid-fifties to study economics and political science in Trinity College at the University of
72 Toronto, until the mid-sixties when Great Brit ain was closing its doors to massive migration from the non-white Commonwealth (37475). Clarkes representation of the feminine origins and character of West Indian Canadian immi gration in the Toronto trilogy enriches the masculine focus of the foundational West I ndian immigration literature stemming from Lamming, Selvon, and Naipauls semiautobiographica l literature on West Indian mens English immigration in the 1950s and 1960s, and also explor es the ways in which West Indian womens domestic work in Canada erodes West Indian mens masculinity. In The Meeting Point, Clarke also begins his narrative of West Indianss immigration to Canada in the 1950s and 1960s on an important day in the history of the civil rights movement. The novels first chapter, The Experi ence of Arrival, entirely ta kes place on a day when the African American minister Martin Luther King, Jr. leads African Americans in Washington D.C. in the early 1960s (1, 7, 38). Th e narrator notes, As Bernice se rved the ice [in her wealthy Jewish employers glass], the [television] a nnouncer was saying that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King had led 2,500 Negroes in the shadow of the State Capitol here today. . (13). This media coverage evokes an event that has b een described as the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the United States: the civil rights march on Washington D.C. in 1963 (qtd. in Washington 217). In the popular I Have a Dream speech, which King delivers as the marchs keynote address, King resurrects and crit iques the traditionally Anglo-Saxon, masculine, United States-based American dream of e qual access to socioeconomic advancement, encouraging black and white Americans to work together peacefully in order to facilitate everyones equal access to material success. The correlation among West Indianss reflection on their collective experience of immigration to Canada and Kings march on Washington D.C. for civil rights foreshadows the novels navigation of working class West Indianss and wealthy
73 Jewish Canadianss disengagement from and engage ment with the civil rights movement and its participants. Bernices wealthy Jewish Canadian employers Mrs. Gladys Rachel Heinne-Burrmann and Mr. Sam Burrman, and Bernice herself initially di smiss the civil rights movement. After Mrs. Burrmann hears the television anno uncers coverage of Kings ci vil rights march, she says in Bernices presence, with a noticeable relief in her voice, Praise God, it doesnt happen here; Were even better than Britain (13). Mrs. Burrmann glad[ly] turns off the civil rights demonstration coverage in order to spea k with Bernice. Bernice does not instantly question or confirm Mrs. Burrmanns representati on of Canada as a bette r place than the United States and Great Britain for bl acks to experience equal rights a nd achieve economic success; she asks Mrs. Burrmann a question regarding the impending arrival of her Barbadian-born halfsister, Estelle Shepherd. Mr. Burrmann shares his wife and domestics detachment from the civil rights movement. In the novels second chapter, The Taste of the Appl e, the narrator notes that Mr. Burrmann, a wealthy Jewish lawyer, had decided that he wanted nothing to do with civil rights and people who have those problem s: he wanted a fres h, clean un-sordid law practice (170). Whereas Mrs. Burrmann, Berni ce, and Mr. Burrmann dissociate themselves from the civil rights movement and its particip ants, which range from African Americans to West Indians and Jewish Canadians in the nove l (13, 283), the narrator exposes the connections among West Indian immigrantss experience of racism in Cana da and African Americanss experience of racism in the United States and th e differences between West Indians and Jewish Canadianss experience of racism in Canada. Throughout the novel, the narrator represents and subverts Mrs. Burrmann, Bernice, and Mr. Burrmanns disengagement from the civil rights movement and identification with each
74 other. On the one hand, the narrat or confirms that West Indian women increase their standard of living through immigrating to Canada under the West Indian Domestic Scheme. The West Indian women have significantly larger sala ries, bank balances, and living quarters while working as domestics in Canada than they ever had while worki ng in the West Indies, resulting in the domesticss belief in and pursuit of an Am erican dream of economic success in Canada. As R.M. Lacovia notes in an essay on the portrait of the Caribbean emigrant (to North America) in Clarke, Claude McKa y, and Paule Marshalls literature (437), [North] America is conceived of as the land of opportunity (441). During a conversation among Bernice, Estelle, and other West Indian women in a church basement, a Jamaican woman quantifies the domesticss pursuit of the American dream. She states, I mean to pull out from this arse country as one big millionaire-woman, hear? Or in the very least, as a woman with a few thousand Canadian dollar-bills in my pocket book (131). Bernice already had achieved the lower end of this economic dream while working as the Burrmannss domestic at a rate of $90.00 per month, saving $3,000 in three years comp ared to the $55.00 she saved while working for five years as a hotel housekeeper in Barba dos (7, 123). As the Burrmannss domestic, she also lives in the comfort and near luxury of her three-room ( living-room, bedroomwhich were really one roomand washroom) apartment on the third floor [of the Burrmannss house], which was part of her wages for working as a domestic (25). The apartments space and amenities surpass those in the one bedroom home that she shared with her mother and half-sister in Barbados (39). When Bernice questions her Cana dian immigration, Dots tells her that you, like the rest o we, if you didnt come up here, and if Canada didnt rescue you, you would still be as poor as a birds arse (36). In a characterist ic instance of ambivalen ce, accentuated by her vacillation between reading the Jehovahs Witnesse ss anti-nationalist, anti-military publications,
75 The Watchtower and Awake, and Malcom Xs black nationalist, militant, official Nation of Islam publication, Muhammad Speaks throughout the novel (286), Bernice agrees with Dotss analysis of their indebtedness to Canada shortly after she regrets he r Canadian immigration. By clarifying that the West Indian domestics regard Canada as th eir economic savior because of their comparatively better economic status in Canada than the We st Indies, the narrator portrays part of the rationale for the Burrmanns, Bernice, and other Canadians a nd West Indianss anticivil rights perspective: they believe that Canadian immigration and labor legislation substantially improves black West Indian dom esticss standard of living, and therefore, invalidates the need for civil rights demonstratio ns in Canada; furthermore, they regard Canada as a better national space for blacks to pursu e the American dream than the United States. On the other hand, the narrator develops a much more persuasive twopronged critique of the Canadian immigration and labor system that portrays the rationale for Canadians and West Indianss support of civil rights demonstrations in Canada, as well as West Indianss similarities with African Americans living in the United States. First, the narrator repr esents Canadas West Indian Domestic Scheme as a more modern fo rm of the legal slave trade, exposing how both labor arrangements exploit workers and decr ease their quality of life. Early in The Meeting Point the narrator notes that Bernice always saw herself as a servant; a sort of twentiethcentury slave. It was mainly the amount of ha rd work which reminded her of her status. And also, the small wages of $90.00 per month (4, 7), which amounts to less than one third of the amount paid to a first generation white German immigrant who works as a domestic for the Burrmannss wealthy Jewish neighbors, Mr. an d Mrs. Gasstein (111). Mrs. Burrmann reifies Bernices depleted sense of self -worth shortly after dismissing Kings civil rights march. The narrator explains,
76 Mrs. Burrmanns tone now suggested that sh e didnt expect an answer [to her question regarding the status of Bernice s domestic work], rather that she wanted to remind Bernice who was the maid and who the mistress. Th is was her favorite technique when dealing with Bernice; and Bernice had always kept silent. (14) Bernice recognizes Mrs. Burrmanns condescen ding tone, only protesti ng their respective maid/mistress roles in silence a nd in the presence of other West Indians. Throughout the novel, the Burrmanns and Bernice sense and suppress th eir contrasting roles in immigration and labor arrangements that resemble the slave trade: Ca nadas West Indian Domestic Scheme and the legal slave trade enable wealthy white families to import and exploit black workers, weakening the workerss self-worth and social ties. Throughout The Meeting Point, the narrator emphasizes the de gree to which the Canadian immigration and labor legislati on severely damages West Indian womens relationships with their family members and lovers. Bernice leaves her sixty-three year old mother (213), twentynine year old half-sister, Estell e (125), only son, Terrence, and th e father of her son, Lonnie, in Barbados when she immigrates to Canada to pursue an American dream under the West Indian Domestic Scheme. In a letter that Bernice receives near Estelles arrival date, their mother scolds Bernice for only sending money home to her family once in the past year. She writes, You have not remembered me. You have forsaken your own mother. Dont you know that you left a child behind you? I mean Terr ence. And Terrence has been sick every day for the past month. (38) Bernice alleviates her guilty feelings regardi ng her abandonment of family by deciding to send some money back home; however, Bernice apparen tly maintains a closer relationship with her savings account at the Royal Bank of Canada than she maintains with her family in Barbados. In the narrators words, the Royal Bank of Canada was a special thing in Bernices life. No one can imagine the satisfaction she had, when she re ceived her first cheque book (123). Bernices strong affiliation with the Royal Bank signifies he r strong identification w ith the Canadian nation
77 and its business. In the decade preceding Bernice s arrival in Canada, the Royal Bank of Canada rebranded itself as the facilitato r of the nations business (R oyal Bank of Canada). The West Indian domesticss self-centered pursuit of soci oeconomic advancement in Canada and growing identification with the business of the Canadian nation causes them to experience an oppressive sense of loneliness, which in The Meeting Point they unsuccessfully try to temper through romantic relationships with men. In the second prong of the narrators cri tique of the Canadian immigration and labor system, the narrator emphasizes the degree to whic h the Canadian immigration and labor system excludes West Indian men and consequently comme rcializes the West Indian mens relationships with women. Whereas the West Indian women immigrate indepe ndently under the West Indian Domestic Scheme, the West Indi an men depend on the domestics for sponsorship to Canada and their steady income in wealthy Canadianss homes In nearly every letter that Lonnie writes Bernice in The Meeting Point, he asks for sponsorship and economic remittances (31). Dotss thirty-seven year old husband, Boysie, even agre ed to marry Dots in order to immigrate to Canada. Boysie explains the pragmatic motivat ion for their marriage in a conversation with another West Indian immigrant, Henry: I come into this country, as you might say, through the back door, meaning I come in only in the behalfs of swearing out an oath that I was going to marry that stupid woman, Dots, in a specified time. Not that I had no fucki ng choice in the matter. I had as much choice as a rat in a burning canefield. I either married Dots, gorblumm uh in that specified time, or out goes me (108) At this point in Boysies monol ogue, the narrator notes that Hen ry had heard this story before (109). The narrators interjection signals the pervasiveness and psyc hological toll of West Indian mens limited immigration, marital, and economic options in the 1950s and 1960s: West Indian men indebt themselves to women in order to esca pe poverty in the West I ndies and increase their standard of living in Canada.
78 Second, the Canadian labor system inhibits the West Indian mens entry into the permanent labor force, and therefore, erodes We st Indian mens self-w orth and professional ambition. Whereas Bernice had saved $3,000 while living in Canada for approximately three years (123), Henry had saved less than $10 wh ile living in Canada for approximately two decades (106, 266). As recently as 1961, Henr y had tried to improve his economic status through working for Canadas civil service co mmission. Neither he nor Boysie, who also applied for the civil serv ice after arriving in Canada, were even contacted regardi ng the status of their application. According to the narrator, Henry felt th e civil service commission had discriminated against him; as it had against Boys ie (266). Consequentl y, Henry resigns himself to depending on unemployment checks and his wealthy Jewish Canadi an girlfriend, Agatha Barbara Sellman ( The Storm of Fortune 282). The narrator explains, He had reached a stage in life, at which it wa s easier to lie in bed all day, and dream; a stage at which he was becoming so weak from th e exhaustion of thinki ng, that he could not see much difference between the day a nd the night: both were nightmares. ( The Meeting Point 276) After only living in Canada for eight months, Boysie similarly regards economic dependence on women in Canada as his best opt ion, even better than remaining one of the working poor in the Barbadian canfields or sailing to Britain like the res o arsehole West Indians (109). Boysie freely takes money from his thir ty-five year old wife and thei r mutual friend, Bernice, after seriously yet unsuccessfully search ing for a steady job (17). We st Indian mens pursuit of the American dream in Canada through their associat ion with women devolves into an emasculating nightmare. In effect, West Indian women s relatively higher standard of living in Canada and West Indian mens increased dependen ce on womens work strain their heterosexual and heterosocial relationships. In Canada, the steadily employe d West Indian domes tics begin to equate
79 masculinity with mens ability to provide mate rially for women through full-time work. In a letter to Lonnie that she destr oys, Bernice expresses the degree to which she and other domestics resent West Indian mens dependence on women: But Lonnie, are you a man, too? Every little pi ece of woman in this place, Canada, have a man going out every morning in the cold, from eight till five, providing for her. And is only you West Indian men who sitting down on your behinds, begging women for money. Lonnie, don't you know that behaviour is gone ou t of fashion? And Lonnie, you should be ashame. But then, how the hell would you know when and when not to be ashame? (202) Already in The Meeting Point, West Indian men living in Canada recognize the degree to which the domestics question their masculinity because of their lack of gainful employment. On Boysies economic dependence on Dots, Henry sa ys, You is a man, Boysie Cumberbatch, in neutral gear, so to speak (109). In order to cope with the emasculating effects of their unemployment in Canada, the West Indian men pursue relationships w ith women who bolster their egos: Henry and Boysie have sex with th e West Indian domestic ss best white friend, Brigitte, who also works as a domestic in Forest Hill. Canadian immigration fosters the immigrantss resentment and disrespect for the opposite sex, and therefore, contributes to the disintegration of their he terosexual and heteroso cial relationships. In an interview with Terrence Craig, Clar ke discusses West Indian mens dependence on West Indian womens work and the resulting separation of thei r heterosexual and heterosocial relationships as a symptom of racist labor arrangements: The fact of emigration has certain psycho-raci al implications. By that I mean that the history of racism, in Americ a certainly, always extracte d the black woman from her environment and placed her in the white or segregated society as a domestic servant exposed to a higher standard of living, from which she may derive certain conclusions, from which she may derive certain vicarious influences, arrogances, and it was always easier for the woman to be more continuously employed than for the men, the men being regarded as a threat because of their black manhood. So that when [Dotss husband] Boysie Cumberbatch came here, he came here w ith a status below that of his wife because she had been asked to come here as a domestic, with a guaranteed income. (118)
80 By also emphasizing West Indian women and mens unequal access to immigration and permanent employment in North America and its socially divisive consequences for immigrantss heterosexual and heterosocial relationships in The Meeting Point Clarke tests Bernice and Mr. and Mrs. Burrmanns belief that black West Indians have better access to the American dream in Canada than African Americans in the United States, collapsing the national distinctions between Canada and the United Statess treatment of black immigrants and citizens. Clarkes focus on black West Indian men s limited access to socioeconomic advancement in Canada during the 1950s and 1960s in interv iews and the Toronto trilogy reflects his own experiences of racial discrimina tion as a black male immigrant in the 1950s. In interviews, Clarke explains that he could not earn enough money to continue his postsecondary education in economics and political science (Craig 115; Nurs e 250). After Clarke withdraws from Trinity College, he takes a string of wo rking class jobs, which he descri bes in an interview with Donna Bailey Nurse as work black men could get: nigh t watchman, postal worker, and stagehand. In December of 1959, Clarke begins working as a reporter for The Timmins Daily News subsequently publishing on West Indian economic immigration to North America in his first two novels, Survivors of the Crossing (1964) and Of Thistles and Thorns (1965), and more thoroughly focusing on working class Barbadianss economic immigration to Canada in the Toronto trilogy. In The Meeting Point, the assumed death of Bernice and Estelles mother causes Bernice to confront momentarily the damaging social and psychological costs of Canadian immigration. Bernice assumes that her mother has died when she receives the same letter that she had sent to her mother, stamped ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN ( 212). Bernice shares the loss of her mother with her female employer, Mrs. Burrmann. Death momentarily cancels out the national,
81 economic, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic differen ces that had divided th e women during the past three years they had lived in the same house: In the heavy silence of the room, Bernice, with tears streaming down her face; and Mrs. Burrmann, with a water-stain on her cheeks, and the leaves in the wind outside: these two women together in grief, as they had never been united before, by love. (215) By representing Bernice and Mrs. Burrmann as mirror images of each other, the narrator emphasizes the depth of their emotional connection. This meeting point over the loss of family members while living in Canada quickly passes after the women l earn that they have not even shared this experience. Bernice learns from Es telle that she has literally lost track of their mothers economic situation and location. Their mother has been living at an almshouse since Estelle arrived in Canada (236). The combined experience of losing and gaining her mother, connecting and disconnecting with her female em ployer, and being betrayed by her own halfsister penetrates the veneer of Bernices ambivalence regarding th e social costs of her Canadian immigration and labor arrangement. In the novels third and final chap ter, The Triangle is Smashe d, Bernices attitude shifts from detached ambivalence to blanket distrust (232), resulting in even more alienation from others living in Canada and more engagement with those whom she left behind in Barbados. In the narrators words, a sort of aggressive cynicism came into her life; she wanted to get back at Estelle [for surreptitiously moving their mother into a Poor House]; at Mrs. Burrmann (although she was not too clear about this vengeance); and at Dots for sp reading gossip about Estelle [and her assumed relationships with a man]. Bernice expresses the oppressive loneliness that accompanies her estrangement from her halfsister, employer, and best Barbadian friend in an uncharacteristically hone st letter to Lonnie, whom she had not written in nearly a year and a half. Bernice confesses to Lonnie, I am not happy up here. There is a lot of th ings wrong with this country, I do not have time to tell you everything that is wrong with this country; but I will say one thing.
82 Loneliness, Lonnie, is a thing I did not know to exist against a person, as I have come to know it in this Canada. That is one thing. Another thing I coul d tell you about my life here, is that money is not all. Money is not all, boy. I was after money when I put down my name to come up here to work off my fat in these people kitchen. But I will not make that mistake two times. (235) Bernices letter indicates the degree to whic h she questions how her material goals have compromised her social ties. Bern ices destruction of this romantic letter and drafting of a much shorter, [m]ore busines s-like version of the same letter indicates that Bernice does make the mistake again (236): she continues to sacrifice her social ties in the West Indies and Canada in order to pursue material success. Bernic es commitment to material success increases after the Burrmanns raise her salary from $90 per month to approximately $300 per month in order to conceal the scandal of Mr. Burrmannss sexua l relationship with Bernices half-sister and apartment mate, Estelle ( The Storm of Fortune 71): Mr. Burrmann notifies Bernice of her pay raise on the same day that he gi ves Bernice a note regarding Es telles meeting with immigration officials ( The Meeting Point 311). Whereas Bernice uses the legislated means of domestic work to pursue the American dream in Canada, Bernices half -sister, Estelle, uses illicit sexual relations to negotiate permanent residency in Canada. The narrator no tes that Estelle was [a]mbitious with men, the way Bernice was ambitious with her bank account at the Royal Bank of Ca nada (174). In a letter to Bernice, Lonnie reiterates that Estelle joins Bernice on a six month visitors visa with the intention of earning lande d immigrant status (183): However, something I have to tell you in regards to Mammy and Estelle, before she left Ba rbados. Estelle was spreading it all over the island that she is not coming back down here. She staying up there (205). During her first six months in Toronto, Estelle implements her plan for attaining landed immigrant status; she has sex with Bernices married, wealthy, Jewish Ca nadian employer, Mr. Burrmann, in Bernices room on the third floor of the Burrmann home. After Mr. Burrmann expresses his love for
83 Estelle, the narrator notes that she was a tr ifle embarrassed through co nscience, because her own motives for giving him her gift of love, were to put him in a position to be exploited (208). Pregnancy, which had resulted in the abandonmen t and even deportation of other female West Indian immigrants (192), also complicates Estelles immigrat ion plans (282). Estelle is hospitalized for the symptoms of a botched abortion on the evening preceding her immigration meeting (320), which Mr. Burrmann had arranged be fore learning of Estelles pregnancy (282). At the novels conclusion, the narration does not clarify if Estelle ga rners landed immigrant status through her relationshi p with Mr. Burrmann; however, the narration does represent Estelles response to racial discrimination as a more admirable response than Bernices. Whereas Bernice generally denies and subm its to the uneven immigration and labor arrangements that erode West Indianss self-worth and social ties, Estelle acknowledges and exploits the racist arrangements in Canadian so ciety. Bernice and Estell e substantially disagree on the need for civil rights de monstrations in Canada and We st Indianss role in these demonstrations. The narrator notes that the hal f-sisters encounter a civi l rights demonstration on College Street, a detail that associates civil rights demonstrations with intellectuals and the academy: Just as they reached the corner, a long double line of people was marching towards them. Some were carrying placards; some just wa lking; a few black persons (mostly women) were walking and holding down their heads as if they thought they s hould not be seen; and all of them were mumbling a song which had a very bad and lugubrious melodic line. Estelle could see the placards saying : CANADA IS NOT ALABAMA and END RACE PREJUDICE NOW and BLACK EQUALS WHI TE and NEGROES ARE PEOPLE. (283) On the one hand, Bernice echoes and builds on Mr s. Burrmanns rejection of civil rights demonstration in the novels first chapter, us ing national and geographi cal distinctions to dissociate herself and other West Indians from t hose participating in civ il rights demonstrations in Canada and the United States. Bernice tells Estelle,
84 But this is Canada, dear, not America. You and me, we is West Indians, not American Negroes. We are not in that mess. Leave that damn foolishness to them, you hear? cause we grow up in a place, the West Indies, where nobody dont worry ove r things like colour, and where you arent condemn because you are blacker than the next person, and (283) Bernice rejects West Indianss participation in ci vil rights demonstrations in Canada in order to rationalize her decision to continue pursuing th e American dream in Canada, and accordingly, argue that she and other black West Indians living in Ca nada have better access to socioeconomic advancement than African Americans in the United States. Whereas Bernice is visibly upset and annoyed at the civil rights demonstration, Estelle is attracted to the demonstration and its participants. Estelle states that Bernice deceives herself when she vehemently criticizes Jewish Canadians and West Indian immigran tss participation in civil rights demonstrations in Toronto; she quest ions Bernices dishonesty on West Indians and African Americanss strikingly diffe rent experience of racial prej udice in Canada and the United States (284). Estelle wishes th at she would have known about the march earlier so that she could have joined the Jewish Canadians and black West Indians, including their friend Henry, who were marching together in this demonstration, which is affiliated w ith the Canadian AntiApartheid Association (279). He nry echoes Estelles opinion to Bernice: Goddamn, that is your fight, too, baby! West Indi an, Canadian, American, Bahamia nwe is all niggers to Mister Charlie! (288). Henrys speaking in African Am erican slang here, using Mister Charlie to refer to whites (Charley, Charlie.), and el sewhere in the trilogy symbolizes his growing identification with a black community that ex tends beyond the geographical and cultural borders of the West Indian community in Canada. Estelles surname, Shepherd, accentuates the leadership role that she plays in leading Bernic e to a transnational community of West Indians, Jewish Canadians, and African Americans who work together to protest and rectify the history of racial injustice in the West Indies Canada, and the United States.
85 In order to stress the novels endorsement of Estelle and Henr ys support of the civil rights movement over Bernice and the Burrmannss oppos ition to it, the novel conc ludes with a violent act of police brutality that hi ghlights the similarities among blackss experience of racial injustice in Canada and the United States. In The Meeting Points final chapter, sexual jealousy apparently motivates two white Canadian polic emen to beat Henry in the wealthy Jewish neighborhood Forest Hill; the policemen beat Henr y after he visits Brig itte, a first generation German immigrant who has been sleeping with Henry, Boysie, and one of the Canadian policemen. The narrator notes that the policemen hit Henry all over hi s body, in heavy, vicious blows which land in the right, silent places. / They beat him thoroughly, and they beat him professionally, and they beat him without a mu rmur (318). The policemen abandon Henry in the street, where he remains for hours before driving himself home in the middle of the night. The narration of white policemen beating a black man evokes the im ages of police brutality that Henry had showed Bernice in order to persuade her to join the civil rights movement. In The Meeting Point, the narrator and narration represent wealthy Jewish Canadian citizens and working class West Indian immigrantss arguments opposing the need for civil rights demonstrations in Canada and th eir participation in these demonstrations in order to subvert these arguments: participation in civil rights dem onstrations emerges as the ideal meeting point for wealthy Jewish Canadians and working class black West Indians to make Kings American dream of equal access to socioeconomic advancem ent a reality for everyone living in Canada. The Storm of Fortune (1973) In The Storm of Fortune, the narrator and narration veer away from the cross-cultural, transnational, interracial meeting point that takes place during the civil rights march in The Meeting Points conclusion. In the trilogy s second novel, the West Indian immigrants who supported the civil rights demonstration in The Meeting Point shift their identifications from the
86 predominantly peaceful, Christian, civil rights m ovement to the more militant, Muslim, black nationalist movement. This ideological shift re flects the immigrantss experiences of racial discrimination and violence in The Meeting Points final chapter and the violence associated with the civil rights and black nationalist movements in the 1960s : the 1963 assassination of the Irish Catholic American president, John F. Kenne dy, who had assisted in Kings prison release; the 1965 assassination of the African American Mus lim leader, Malcom X, at a Harlem theatre after he began teaching a more racially diverse path to equality; the 1968 assassination of the African American Christian lead er, King, at a black sanitation workerss strike in Memphis, Tennessee. This ideological shif t also reflects Clarkes own hist ory with Malcom X, whom he befriended in the 1960s (Nurse 250). In a 1986 in terview, Clarke describes the year following Kings assassination as a time when everybody in America, white and black, thought there was going to be a civil war. Well, that was the feelin g we got at that time, that very violent time violent in expectationtough, concrete time when you smelled almost every day guns, and that stuff that they shoot off that makes your eyes burn (122). In the Storm of Fortune Clarke grounds the degrading consequences of the dom estics and their loved ones pursuit of an American dream through illicit sexua l relations in the ra cially charged violence of the sixties, and accordingly, names the novels first chapte r, Violence and Fear at the Base. The West Indian women continue to fare better than the West Indian men in the trilogys second novel, although the domestics, Bernice and Dots, both initially ex perience the same kind of depressing loneliness th at they expe rience throughout The Meeting Point In The Storm of Fortunes first chapter Bernice and Dots secretly begin a homosexual relationship with each other in order to cope with their isolati on from Canadians and West Indians. The commencement of their homosexual relationshi p resembles the commencement of their
87 preceding relationships with West Indian men; th eir intercourse stems fr om the deep emotional and physical alienation that they experience as domestics in Canada. Bernices concealment from Dots of Estelles sexual relationship with Mr. Burrmann and Estelles resulting hospitalization instigates a heated spat that es calates into physical intimacy. Dots lambastes Bernice for trusting Brigitte, whom Dots disparag ingly refers to as a blasted white woman, rather than a black domestic lik e herself (20). Their dialogue evolves into a flurry of physical activity: shoving leads to an embrace that leads to in tercourse on the same plasticcovered Chesterfield where Estelle had consumma ted her sexual relationship with Mr. Burrmann (23). Bernice eventually writes off the romantic component of their relationship as merely a sort of jerking-off of a deeper hunger which [Ber nices] deprivation and Do tss availability had made possible (90). In The Storm of Fortune, Bernice and Dotss homosexual relationship accentuates the degree to which Canadian immi gration breaks up West Indian womens more culturally acceptable sexual and emotional relati onships with West Indi an men: working class female and male West Indian immigrants, includ ing Bernice and Boysie, refer to Canadians and West Indianss homosexual relationships as deviant in the Toronto trilogy ( The Meeting Point 50; The Storm of Fortune 68; The Bigger Light 86). Physical violence at the base during the night preceding The Storm of Fortunes first chapter, including Estelles bloody botched ab ortion and Henrys bloody police beating (10), instigates the immigrantss break from uneven i mmigration and labor relati ons. First, Estelles bleeding as if she was a pig killed by an amateur butcher and ensuing hospitalization causes her to reconsider her pursuit of an American dream in Canada through sex with Mr. Burrmann. In the hospital, Estelle compares her sexual rela tionship with Sam to her own, friends, and family memberss interracial relationships. She realizes,
88 It had happened so many times in her life in Barbados, and in the lives of her sisters, or aunts, or cousins, as many times in hist ory. Once reading a book she found somewhere she came across the identical case. A Barbadian case. (40) In this case, a beautiful, young, black slave name d Peggy sleeps with an educated, wealthy, white doctor in order to garner the the customary promotion from the Cane fields In Estelles case, she sleeps with an educated, wea lthy, Jewish lawyer in order to become a landed immigrant, meaning that she was free to come and go as sh e pleased, free to take any job she could get (44). After Estelle reconsiders her sexual relatio nship with Sam in the historical context of slavery, she regards their relationship as a more modern version of black female slavess uneven sexual relationships with white male slave master s, identical to Peggys relationship except in one detail: Whereas Peggy worked for the master, Dr. Reeves, she, Estelle was the sister of the masters slave, Bernice (41). The similari ties among the Barbadian slaves interracial relationship with her master and her own inte rracial relationship with Bernices master transform Estelles linear conception of historical progress into a ci rcle, a small circle (41). In order to cope with the circular character of racial injustice, Es telle seeks friends by the common origin of their colour (39), a pursuit that evokes Malcom Xs ca ll for black separatism instead of Kings call for integration. As suggested by Este lles surname, Shepherd, she functions as a guide back to blackss African roots, through her Muslim faith and support of civil rights demonstrations in The Meeting Point and her seeking of black companionship over economic success in The Storm of Fortune Second, Henrys experience of police brutalit y heightens his and Dotss awareness that black West Indians in Canada experience the same kind of racial injustice as African Americans in the United States. Dots believes, for the firs t time in her life, that crimes happen in Canada just because that man is a black man, or a negro, or a ni gger, as they call them in the South, and get off scotch free (14). Later in the novel, Henry similarly admits,
89 But sometimes I cant see no fucking differe nce between Toronto and Harlem! I mean, certain times, a certain time comes in your fu cking life when you want to relax and ease-up offa hustling. You want a nice place to live. (281) In other words, Estelles hospitalization and He nrys police beating inspire them and Dots to reconsider their individual experi ences of racial injustice in a br oader historical and geographical context, resulting in their awareness of the si milarities among blackss e xperience of racial injustice in Canada and the United States. The beating and more diasporic perspective of racial identifications, which the narrator had been gesturing towards in The Meeting Point, motivate Henry and his li ke-minded West Indian and Jewish Canadian friends to collectively respond to ra cial injustice. Henry initially pursues legal avenues to rectify the policemens illegal actions. First, Henry reports his beating to Canadian reporters (49). Next, Henrys wea lthy Jewish Canadian gr aduate student friend, Agatha, pays a Canadian lawyer to facilitate me dia coverage of the incident; this method also fails to generate the desired re sults (49). After Boysie questi ons Henry about the reporterss exclusion of his story in the news papers, Henry tells Boysie, The papers got to print my story. They have to. That is justice. And justice got to be done, goddamn, or I will do something about it (50). After Henrys experience of police bruta lity is not rectified by Canadian reporters, he shifts his identification from the pacifist legal ci vil rights organizations to the militant criminal organizations (49). Henr y desires to smash in store windows and kill the politicians and cops that he condemns as criminals, savages, they re worse than the fucking Nazzis in order to avenge his and other black mens experience of police brutality (51). He proudly identifies himself with the black mafia (53), which report ers and academics recently have described as a Philadelphia-based criminal orga nization founded in the sixties by a group of African American men (Associated Press; Griffin 17) Henry uses criminal methods to express his anger at racial injustice in Toronto. He paints a swastika on a Jewish persons door in order to make Jewish
90 Canadians experience the same kind fear that he experiences as a black man living in a predominately white city. Canadian reporterss prompt coverage of the anti-Semitic vandalism confirms Henrys perspective th at Canadian institutions (283), ranging from the civil service commission to the police force, media, and legal system, discriminate against blacks, especially black men. Henrys responses to police brutality indicate that black men cannot achieve justice through legal avenues in the 1960s, and therefore, they resort to criminal means that beget vengeance. Whereas Estelles pursuit of a black community in Toronto apparently heals her physically and psychologically traumatic re lationship with the wealthy Je wish Canadian Sam, Henrys marriage to the wealthy Jewish Canadian Agatha only contributes to his storm of fortune, the series of injustices that he and other black West Indian immigrants have experienced since arriving in Canada (218). Their marriage also in tensifies Agathas experi ence of the storm of fortune experienced by black West Indians living in Canada in the 1960s. In an unsigned letter, someone who is presumably a black West Indian immigrant warns Agatha that she would join their coterie, their fortune, their storm of fo rtune if she married Henry. Agathas friends and familys absence at her wedding to Henry signa ls their mutual banishment from Agathas wealthy Jewish Canadian community. Canadians s disapproval of their interracial union also spoils their wedding reception: as Henry and Ag atha leave their wedding reception in Dots and Boysies apartment, the tenants sneer at Ag atha, thinking [y]ou white bitch!, [y]ou white trash! for her involvement with a black man (253) Henry and Agatha also experience racial discrimination while looking for a new apartment: Canadian landlords refu se to rent Agatha a room after they realize that she lives with a black man, just as th ey had refused to rent Bernice a room for Estelle after they realize that Bernice is a black woman. Henry and Agathas repeated
91 experience of racial discrimi nation, stemming from Canadians s disapproval of interracial relationships and discrimination of black men, wears on their mar ital relationship. In effect, Agatha begins to resent Henry, especially his black skin, for co mplicating her life even as she fills their one bedroom apartment with images of black people, ranging from impoverished African children to Malcom X (281). The disso lution of Agatha and Henrys marriage resembles the dissolution of Dots and Boysies marriage in that white Canadianss discrimination of black West Indian men causes the mens wives to resent their husbands for complicating their lives. Since Henry fails to enact racial justice thr ough legal and criminal avenues, he begins to shift his focus inward, concentrating on coping with rather than stopping r acial injustice and its ensuing complications. Henry withdraws from Agatha, West Indian friends, and Canadian society in the same one bedroom apartm ent where he lived as a bachelor in The Meeting Point Henry, like the alienated Bernice, primarily e xpresses himself through wr iting. Henry writes in terms of the traditional literary genres of Englis h literature that he studied in the colonial education system in Barbados inst ead of the terms of the Barbadia n or Harlem vernacular that he uses when communicating with black friends. Edward Baugh notes, The linguistic agony or adventure of a Boysie or a Moses [in Selvons novel, Moses Ascending (1975)] marks a development in the West Indian love-hate rela tionship with English (52). Indeed, Henrys mode and object of expression, his white wealt hy Jewish Canadian wife, contributes to his estrangement from his African roots and communit y. In a love poem that Henry dedicates to his wife, he writes, But was it really time that killed The rose of our love? Was it time? And was it time to die? Is it time? This rose? It was not, could not, be time. Time Has no power over roses, or over love
92 Or over me, or over you. Time has no gun over love and beauty. (285) In the end of The Storm of Fortune, it is the psychological effects of racial prejudice, not the passage of time, that kill Henrys romantic rela tionship with Agatha. Henry apparently uses suicide to escape the deep-seated racial prejudice that had eroded his sense of masculinity and his relationships over the years. A Canadian newspaper lists su icide as the cause of Henrys death, placing the following caption over hi s picture: WEST I NDIAN POET FOUND DEAD (309). Henrys death evokes the deaths of other Afro -Caribbean immigrants in novels and short stories by Clarke and other Caribbean-born auth ors who immigrate to Canada. In the novel Survivors of the Crossing, which Clarke published a few years before The Meeting Point the male Afro-Barbadian-born Canadian immigrant, Jackson, kills himself after he dishonestly spreads the American dream myth in letters to Barbadian friends: We get Saturdays and Sundays off as usual and the money nice, nice. A man could become a millionaire in a year Canada is a real first-class place I sure sure the word Canada means something like progressiveness ( Survivors of the Crossing 9 qtd. in Fabre 129). In an interview with Gianfranca Balestra, Clarke disc usses Jacksons suicide in the noble sense of the Romans who were free to remove themselves from an unjust society (28) or in th e ideological sense of Hamlets famous soliloquy, To be or not to be (30). Clarkes discussion of Jacksons suicide illuminates Henrys death in the Toronto trilogy. As a self-proclaimed Muslim writer affiliated with race-based organizations, ranging from a Canadian Anti-Apartheid Organization in The Meeting Point to an American black criminal organization in The Storm of Fortune Henry understands more deeply than the other West Indian immigrants that the Canadian social system prevents blacks from achieving the American dream of personal freedom and economic success.
93 After trying and failing to rectif y the Canadian social system, through a peaceful civil rights organization, newspapers, lawyers, a criminal or ganization, and graffiti, Henry uses suicide to remove himself from Canadas racist immigrati on and labor systems. As Judith Misrahi-Barak notes, one cannot fail to notice th at the Caribbean-Canadian urba n short stories often end with the death of the protagonist, as if to underline the absence of a refuge or a way out; the female protagonist in Clarkes short stories, Tryi ng to Kill Herself and A Slow Death, in The Nine Men Who Laughed and the Antiguan-born Althea Princes short story, Body and Soul, also commits suicide in order to escape Canadian society (13). Henrys death unearths his West Indian frie ndss deep dissatisfacti on with the Canadian immigration and labor system and its storm of fortune, which they have suppressed under a veneer of happiness. In The Storm of Fortune, Henrys beating inspires Dots to leave her domestic work: she uses her new nur ses aides salary and Boysies new janitorial salary to rent their first apartment in Canada. Dots relishes their higher standard of living and increased independence. While preparing breakfast for her husband and friends, Bernice and Estelle, Dots optimistically thinks, Today in Canada praise God! I thank you th at you put it in my he ad to get out of that blasted stifling island called Barbados and emig rade, be-Christ, emigrade here, and it is the wisest thing I have done (305) Anger displaces Dotss contentment when she lear ns of Henrys death in the newspaper. Dots and Boysie direct their anger ove r Henrys death at Agatha, the wealthy Jewish Canadian widow of Henry, suspecting that she killed Henry. Estell e directs her anger at Sam, the wealthy Jewish Canadian father of her son. In The Storm of Fortunes conclusion, Henrys death unearths the racial tensions between the working class West Indian immigrants and the wealthy Jewish Canadian citizens.
94 The Bigger Light (1975) In the trilogys final novel, the narrator moves the female West Indian immigrants, Bernice, Estelle, and Dots, into the literary background in order to focus on Boysies successful rise in Canadian society. In contrast to Bernices complian ce with wealthy Jewish Canadian society in The Meeting Point and Henrys escape from wealthy Jewish Canadian society in The Storm of Fortune Boysie mimics wealthy Anglo-Canadian culture in The Bigger Light The narrator observes in The Storm of Fortunes concluding chapter, Boysie decide[s] to make his life as close as possible an imitation of [his ne w boss] Mr. Macintoshs, for Mr. Macintosh was successful as the president of Macintosh and Company, Stock Brokers (257). After Boysie begins working as a janitor for Mr. Macintoshs company, he imitates his bosss image, actions, and speech in his professional and private life in order to go up in the world (291). Boysie begins wearing professional mens attire (286), frequenting establishments with a predominately wealthy white Canadian clientele ( The Bigger Light 18, 23), and speaking in the Canadian vernacular, using such phrases as Hi, All righ t, and A-OK, and even referring to himself as Mr. Cumberbatch and Bertram instead of Boysie ( The Storm of Fortune 263; The Bigger Light 38, 93). After Boysie loses Henry, whom the na rrator describes as Boysies only friend ( The Bigger Light 4), he specifically rejects black nationalist and Caribbean nationalist identifications for Barbadian and Canadian affiliations in order to project the successful immigrant image (3, 15, 23). Boysie, like the West Indian domestics in The Storm of Fortune and Jackson in Survivors of the Crossing defines success in terms of an indi vidual accumulation of material wealth through business: making a million dollars (258). This is also the magic number that appears in other narratives of Caribbean North Ameri can economic immigration, including the short story, Drive Me until I Sweat, in Cyril Dabydeens Black Jesus and Other Short Stories
95 (1996). Monica Kaup grounds Boysies material su ccess in the societal shifts taking place in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s, from the Anglo-c onformity model that had dominated Canadian society before World II to the mosaic mode l that emphasizes preservation of ethnic specificity.2 Kaup argues that the Canadian mosaic grant[s] Boysie material success, but refuse[s] him social integration; however, Boys ie actually achieves material success through imitating wealthy Anglo-Canadian culture and re jecting Afro-Caribbean culture. Boysies identifications with Barbados gradually fade away in The Bigger Light as he accrues material belongings in Canada. The narrator explains, He hadnt been back to Barbados in all th e time he was in Canada, and sometimes he yearned to go back; but at times like this, when he could go into a de alers and bring out a new car, knowing that in Barbados there was no possibility of his ev er doing thathe had never known anybody in his village who was able to do that in the thirty-seven years he lived therewell, Boysie was not r eady to see Barbados soon. (82) Boysies pursuit and enjoyment of material succes s also increases his alienation from his wife: they rarely see each other after he begins working the night shift as a janitor at Mr. Macintoshs company; she works the day shift as a nurses aid. Boysies alienation from his wife is indicative of his alienation from the broader community of Barbadians living in Canada. The narrator notes, He needs to talk to somebody. He wants to talk to somebody, s oon. He feels himself becoming too silent, too ingrown, too philosophic al, talking to himself too much: not only in the mornings [. .] but even at work when there are other persons around, in his panel truck on the crowded streets, and in th e Italian barbers chair. (29) The social costs associated with Boysies pursuit of material success through cultural assimilation to Anglo-Canadian cultu re resemble the social costs associated with the West Indian womens pursuit of material success through domesti c work and Henrys rejection of material success through literary pursuits. In Boysies case and throughout the Toronto trilogy, Clarke 2 For more, see Howard Palmers essay, Mosaic versus Melting Pot: Immigration and Ethnicity in Canada and the United States in A Passion for Identity: An Introduction to Canadian Studies (16274).
96 represents cultural assimilation to wealthy white Canadian culture as the most effective means for black West Indian immigrants to achieve th e American dream in Ca nada; however, Clarke also represents cultural assim ilation as too culturally and psyc hologically harmful of a pursuit. In the trilogys final chapter, The Bigger Ligh t, Boysie finally realizes what the narrator and narration have been suggesting throughout the trilogy: he and other We st Indian immigrants have been decreasing their quality of life in order to increase their standard of living in Canada; they have been sacrificing too mu ch of their social lives and pe rsonal freedom in order to pursue material success. Jazz leads Boysie back to another kind of bigger light, revealing what Boysie and Henry had been searching for all alo ng: the freedom to be a man (236, 269). While Boysie listens to an African Am erican sing, A Rainy Day in Ge orgia, he realizes, Freedom the man had sung about, not the rains in Georgia. It was that freedom that Boysie had found himself lacking all these years (236). This revelation reinforces Boysies decision to leave his wife, his initial means toward increasing his standa rd of living, and the ma jority of his secretly accumulated assets, including thousands of dollars in certificate of deposit s and four properties, which he entrusts to Dots w ith a lawyers assistance. In The Bigger Lights conclusion, the narration contrasts Do ts and Bernices experience of loneliness in Canada with Boysies pursuit of personal freedom and masculinity in the United States. On the night when Boysie drives to the United States, Dots and Bernice feel as alone as they did when they immigrated to Canada as single women years ago. Dots tells Bernice, But look at we two! You and me Right where we started from. Manless. You, waiting for Lew [, Bernices current romantic interest], but with your mind made up to go back home [to find and marry a man]; and me, waiti ng for Boysie, as I wait every other night, alone. But what are we going to do? This must be the fate of women like us, you dont think so? Me and you. (282) Dots and Bernice feel even more isolated from West Indian men and the broader West Indian community in Canada after no one else attends th e first social event that they had hosted since
97 Henry and Agathas wedding reception (283). They realize that they are to tally alone in Canada at two o clock in the morning, the very mome nt when Boysie crosses the Canadian-American border. Whereas Dots and Bernice feel as if they are in the same isolated single position as they were when they entered Canada as immigrants years ago, Boysie feels much freer driving towards the United States than he did entering Ca nada under Dotss sponsorship. In an interview with Terrence Craig, Clarke comments on the significance of Boysies car in the trilogys conclusion: The car, so far as I am concerned, is a new womb in which he finds himself. It is also a mechanized coffin. It is a journey, it seem s to me, into an aspect of his past and at the same time into an aspect of his future that ma y engulf him (119). Clarke s discussion of the car as a mechanized coffin and new womb ge stures towards the potential opportunities and dangers awaiting Boysie in the United States. On the one hand, the trilogys representation of the racial violence in the United States indicates that Boysie will likely experience the same kind of racial discrimination in the United States that he and other black men experience in Canada. On the other hand, Boysies experience of arri val in the United States in the Toronto trilogys concluding chapter, The Bigger Ligh t, suggests that he does and will find more personal freedom pursuing his individual dreams in the United States than he found pursuing the self-effacing, isolating American dream of material success in Canada. Boysie moves much more freely into the United States than he and other black West Indian immigrants had entered Canada. The immigration officer at the United St ates border nods to [Boysie], and waves him on (288), in contrast to the immigration officer s at the Toronto airport who intimidate the black West Indian immigrants upon arrival ( The Meeting Point 70). After Boysie leaves his wife and the majority of his material belongings in Cana da and enters the United States, he feels the bigness of the space around him, for he knows he ha s left one kind of space for another (288).
98 Boysies separation from Dots in The Bigger Lights conclusion evokes Henrys separation from Agatha in The Storm of Fortunes conclusion and Estelles sepa ration from Mr. Burrman in The Meeting Points conclusion. All three of these West Indian immigrants leave romantic relationships with material benefits (sponsorsh ip for Boysie, money for Henry, and immigration papers for Estelle) in order to enhance their pe rsonal freedom. Boysies rejection of the Angloconformity model of Canadian society and the ma jority of his material wealth for a bigger light in the United States ultimately situates th e United States as another potentially rewarding space for West Indian immigrants to find the pe rsonal freedom and happiness that all of the Barbadians mistakenly have been searching for through the pursuit of material success in the Toronto trilogy. Conclusion Clarke traces West Indianss pursuit of the American dream through the legislated means of domestic work, the illicit means of sexual rela tions, and the most succe ssful means of cultural assimilation in the Toronto trilogy. Clarke explores West Indianss engagement and disengagement with civil rights and black nationa list movements in order to expose the degree to which Canadian immigration and labor arrangement s unethically threaten immigrantss quality of life. Although the immigrants exert more contro l over their lives in so me pursuits than others, their pursuit and rej ection of the American drea m in Canada generally le ads to the disintegration of their social ties and quality of life. In th e end, Clarke rejects thei r pursuit of the popular American dream of material success, Kings re vision of the American dream in terms of everyones right to equal access to economic su ccess during the civil rights movement, and Malcom Xs separatist black nationalist moveme nt on the grounds that all of these paths problematically restrict the i ndividuality of West Indian immi grants. In the Toronto trilogy, Clarke ultimately represents the United States as a potentially promising national space for West
99 Indian immigrants to pursue free dom independently and outside of the limiting confines of their self-effacing, isolated, materi alistic lives in Canada. Clarkes early literary pub lications on West Indianss ec onomic migration to Canada pioneer a rich tradition of Caribb ean Canadian immigration litera ture that weighs the economic benefits and social costs of econo mic immigration to Canada and th e United States. After Clarke immigrates to Canada in the mid-fifties and publishes the Toronto trilogy in the sixties and seventies many Caribbean-born authors of North Amer ican migration narratives also drift towards a Canadian audience, including Antiguas Althea Prince (1945-), Trinidad and Tobagos Lorris Elliott (1931-), Claire Harris ( 1937-), Marlene Nourbese Philip (1947-), Ramabai Espinet (1948-), Dionne Brand (1953-), Neil Bissoondath (1955-), Andr Alexis (1957-), and Samuel Selvon, Jamaicas Afua Cooper (1957-), Olive Se nior (1941-), and Makeda Silvera (1955-), and Guyanas Cyril (1945-) and David Dabydeen (1955 -) (Kaup; Misrahi-Barak 9). Jamaicas Lorna Goodison (1947-) and Haitis Dany Laferriere (1953-) have also been living and writing in Canada and the United States. Clarkes work al ready holds a prominent place in anthologies of Afro-Canadian, Caribbean Canadian, and Canadian immigrant literature (Kaup).3 His fame in the Canadian media as the grand-daddy of Afri can-Canadian literature has only increased since earning the Rogers Writerss Trust Fiction Prize fo r the years best Canadi an novel or short story collection with his novel, The Origin of Waves (1997) and the Giller Prize for the years best 3 Monica Kaup notes that literary critics traditionally have anthologized Caribbean-Canadian writing in three ways: first, literary critics have anthologized Afro-Caribbean Canadian writing with writing by black Canadian authors (see Harold Heads anthology, Canada in Us Now (1976), Lorris Elliotts anthology, Other Voices: Writings by Blacks in Canada (1985) and Ayanna Blacks anthology, Voices: Canadian Writers of African Descent (1992)); second, literary critics have anthologized AfroCaribbeanand Indo-Caribbean-Canadian writing with writing by Caribbean-born authors, regardless of race or nationality (see Cyril Dabydeens anthology, A Shapely Fire: Changing the Literary Landscape (1987), and Ramabai Espinets anthology, Creation Fire: A Cafra Anthology of Caribbean Womens Poetry (1990)); third, and most recently, literary criti cs have anthologized Caribbean Canadian writing with writing by other Canadian immigrants (see Linda Hutcheon and Marion Richmonds collection, Other Solitudes: Canadian Multicultural Fictions (1990)).
100 Canadian novel or short stor y collection w ith his novel, The Polished Hoe (2002) (Fitzgerald; Misrahi-Barak 10). Clarkes early writing on West Indian immigration in terms of immigrantss pursuit and rejection of an Ameri can dream of material success de serves a more prominent place in the traditional narrat ives of foundational West Indian lit erature, which historically have privileged literature on West Indianss migration to England in the 1950s and 1960s.
101 CHAPTER 4 MACHISMO AND FEMINISM IN ESMERALDA SANTIAGOS AMRICAS DREAM, 1996 Introduction Whereas Austin Clarke focuses on the way in which Canadian cultural norms and immigration policies discriminate against black West Indian men duri ng the 1950s and 1960s in the Toronto trilogy, Esmeralda Santiago focuses on the way in which late twentieth century American cultural norms and immigration polic ies facilitate Puerto Rican womens selfexpression and professional ambition in her first and only novel to date, Amricas Dream (1996). The title Amricas Dream evokes the novels unmarried, twenty-nine year old Viequenese-born protagonist, Am rica Gonzalez, and her domes tic dream of marriage and home ownership for her only daughter, Rosalinda, and origin ally, for herself. In the novel, the narrator and narration represent Amrica and other Viequenese womens allegiance to a domestic dream of socioeconomic advancement through marriage a nd their skepticism of an American dream of economic success through individual employment in the United States as symptoms of Spaniards and Americanss colonial and impe rial history on the island. In the novel, Amrica emigrates from Vieques with the intention of escaping from her physically and verbally abusive lover, Correa. Amricas emig ration disengages her from her matrilineal ancestorss relatively unchanging hi story of Vieques, a Puerto Rican island municipality located approximately thirteen miles east of the main island ( Vieques Island). In Vieques, Amrica and her ancestors historically have worked in the same plantation house as poorly paid maids for affluent foreigners. In New York, Amrica similarly works as a poorly paid housekeeper and nanny for affluent Ameri cans; however, she gains a more extensive support network. Amricas Latina relatives and friends inspire he r to express her own ideas on issues ranging from Latinoss machismo to Amer icanass feminism. Af ter she gains a better
102 understanding of the ways in whic h her allegiance to the ideals of machismo and her ridicule of Anglo-American feminism have tied her to her matrilineal history in Vieques, she gradually exchanges her patriarchal domestic dream in Vie ques for a more individualistic American dream in the United States. In Amricas Dream Amrica emerges as a model for exploited women living and working in the socioeconomic base of Puerto Rican and American society: she discovers and fights for her American dream of life, liberty, and happiness while strengthening her familial and cultural ties. Amricas Domestic Dream In the first half of the novel, which larg ely takes place on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, the narrator focuses on the degree to which Amrica and her female ancestors have abandoned their own dreams in order to satisf y older men and provide for their children. Amrica and her female ancestors who have lived on the island of Vieques historically have worked as maids at La Casa del Francs (The Frenchmans House), which a Frenchman originally built as his plantation house during the colonial era of Viequess history and another foreigner subsequently converted to the only hotel on the island (1).1 Amrica started working as a maid at La Casa with her unmarried mother, Ester, at the age of fifteen in order to provide for herself and her only child, Rosalinda. Amr ica became pregnant with Rosalinda when she ran away from home with Correa, an older c onstruction worker from the main island who met Amrica while he was modernizing her neighborh ood in Vieques. In the narrators words, Correas conquista, the seduction, didnt take long. She ran o ff with Correa, and even though eight months later she returned to her mothers house, she is still Correas woman (25). 1 For an excellent account of the Spanish words and phrases in Amricas Dream see Kimberly A. Nances essay, If English is Spanis h then Spanish is .: Literary Challenges of Representing Bilingual Speech Production and Reception in Esmeralda Santia gos Amricas Dream (1996) in the thirtieth volume of the International Fiction Review
103 Amricas conceptualization of Correa and other men as conquist adors significantly shapes her conceptualization of herself as property. Amricas name evokes Puerto Ricos commonwealth status within and on the border of the United States and acce ntuates Amricas historical connection to the island of Vieques and its Spanish and American conquistadors. Amricas rebellious departure from the island of Vieques with Correa indicates the degree to which she desired to escape from her ma trilineal history on the island; however, her matrilineal history interfered with her desire to start a new life for herself outside of Vieques. Although Amrica desired to marry Correa, who liv ed on the eastern coast of the mainland in Fajardo, she returned to Vieques and raised her child without Correa s economic support through the duration of their fifteen y ear relationship. Correa economi cally supported another woman whom he impregnated after Amrica, because the other womans father pressured Correa to marry and economically support his daughter and thei r children. Amricas lack of a patriarchal figure to negotiate Amricas marriage with Correa contributed to her repetition of her matrilineal cycle. She does not pressure Correa to leave his wife and their children in Fajardo on the main island of Puerto to move in with Amrica and Rosalinda on the island of Vieques, where Correa currently works as a public beach guard for the Puerto Rican Department of Tourism. Correas employment reinforces his ro le as a conquistador in Amricas life and neighborhood: he regularly serves the interests of American tourists and uses gifts from the United States Navy PX to atone for his physical a nd verbal abuse. Correas abusive relationship with Amrica on the island of Vieques gestures towards the United States and its Navys abusive relationship with Puerto Rico, es pecially the island of Vieques; however, in the novel, Amricas dreams for herself and her daughter take precedence over Puerto Ricos political movement towards American assimilati on through statehood, Puerto Rican autonomy through the
104 maintenance of its commonwealth status, or Puerto Ricos complete political independence from the United States. As a twenty-nine year old woman, Amri ca privately hopes that her only daughter, Rosalinda, will break free from her matrilineal ancestorss hi story of abandoning their own education and dreams for an extramarital sexual relationship with an older male and their illegitimate children. On the one hand, Amrica assumes that Rosalinda shares Amricas dreams for her, to have dreams of her own (33) On the other hand, Am rica projects her own deferred dreams onto her daughter. In the narrato rs words, Amrica dreams that Rosalinda will break from her history, that she would educat e herself, marry above her station, like Yamila Valentn Saavedra, and live in a house where she would employ maids, not be one (77). Yamila broke from her history in the socioeconomic ba se of Puerto Rican society through marriage to Roy Saavedra, whom the narrator describes as an affluent Nuyorrican officer in the United States Navy (22). Ismael Muiz clarifies that the meaning of the phrase Nuyorrican has evolved since it was popularized in the forties and fif ties to disparage Puerto Rican exiles who had assimilated to working class American culture in New York and regular ly spoke Spanglish, the adaptation of English words into Spanish; sin ce the sixties, the term Nuyorrican has been used to describe all Puerto Ricans born or rais ed anywhere in the continental United States (82). Amrica projects her abandoned dreams on to her daughter, hoping that Rosalinda will emulate Yamilas marriage to an affluent man and achieve her mothers lost domestic dream of socioeconomic advancement through education and an upwardly mobile marriage, perhaps even to Rosalindas older boyfriend, Taino, who has Nuyorrican ties thr ough his father, Roy Saavedra.
105 Already in the novels first chap ter, The Problem with Rosali nda, the fourteen year old Rosalinda shatters Amricas domestic dreams fo r her daughter. Rosalinda follows in her mothers footsteps, leaving school and home to live with an older boyfriend. Rosalinda runs away with Taino in the exact way that Amri ca ran away with Correa when she was fourteen: they take a ferry to Fajardo and stay in the sa me room at Correas Ta (Aunt) Estrellas house, where Amrica and Correa had stayed when they ran away fifteen years earlier. The sensory maladies of Correas nearly blind Aunt Estrella and deaf cousin Fefa accentuate the fact that they do not perceive the degree to which their welc oming of Rosalinda and Taino into their home might significantly compromise their academic and matrimonial futures. The strong similarities among Rosalindas departure from home with Ta ino and Amricas departure from home with Correa cause Amrica to fear that Rosalindas es cape will yield the same results as Amricas escape: Rosalinda also will return to her mo thers home pregnant and abandon her own dreams in order to support her illegitimate child through working as a maid at La Casa with her mother. The similarities also indicate th at Amrica, Rosalinda, and their female ancestors have been using the wrong method to escape from the exploi ted location in the socioeconomic base of Viequenese society, namely believing that their older and wealthier boyfri ends will improve their position in Puerto Rican society. Rosalindas departure, which her grandmother describes as an escape, causes Amrica to stop waiting for Correa to solve her personal and professional problems. Amrica independently searches for her lost daughter in the hopes of bringing her home, rather than following her own mothers example and waiting for her daughter to return home, unmarried and pregnant (2). The narrator grounds Amricas loss and pursuit of Ro salinda, from the town of Esperanza (Hope),
106 a fishing village on Viequess sout hern coast, to Destino (Des tiny), in Viequess colonial history (Vieques Island): Once these lowlands were a sea of sugarcane, which elegant seores oversaw atop sprightly Paso Fino horses. But when the U. S. Navy appropriated two-thirds of the island [of Vieques] for its maneuvers, the great s ugar haciendas disappear ed and the tall stacks that dotted the island were bull dozed out of the way. This is history, and Amrica doesnt think about it as she walks the slope of the narrow road, sweating in the stretches between shady patches. (16) In this passage, the narrator succinctly refers to two colonial periods in Viequenese history: the late eighteenth century when Spanish colonialists began gr owing and exporting significant amounts of sugarcane in Puerto Rico; the fort ies when the American government began using Vieques as a bombing range, and by extension, the late nineteenth century when the American government wrested Puerto Rico and Cuba from Spai n in order to increase their naval heft in the Caribbean sea (Puerto Rico). In The Epic of America where James Truslow Adams coined and popularized the phrase Ameri can dream, he presented the Un ited Statess expansion into Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the Caribbean, espe cially in Cuba and Panama, as evidence that Americanss pursuit of an American dream had gone horribly awry through foreign expansionism, possibly even surpassing Europe anss imperialistic methods during the same period (329). Scholars have cr iticized Santiago for glossing over the United Statess colonial and imperial history in Puerto Rico in Amricas Dream especially the degree to which the United Statess military maneuvers on the island of Vieques have altered, in Mara Acosta Cruzs words, del panorama politico de Puerto Rico (the panorama of Puerto Rican politics) (114); however, the narrators s cant discussion of foreign governme ntss history on the island of Vieques performs an important narrative function. It shifts the focus from Viequess thorny political history to Amricas promising future in the town of Destino (Destiny), only providing enough of a historical context to convey the ma gnitude of Amricas deviation from her own
107 matrilineal history and her islands political history. Amricas pursuit of Rosalinda substantially differs from Este rs neglect of Amrica, and th erefore, signals Amrica and Rosalindas disengagement from their oppre ssive matrilineal and political history. In addition, the narrator and na rration communicate, albeit disc reetly, the degree to which Amrica has fought the United Stat es Navys destruction of the Vi equenese environment and its fishing industry. In the pa ssage on Americans and Spaniard ss history on the island, the contradictory preposition But exposes Amrica and other Viequenese re sidentss contrasting opinions of Americans and Spaniardss history on the island: the passage basically conveys that the depersonalized U.S. Navys maneuvers r azed the elegant seor ess agricultural and architectural developments, the Spanish mens s ea of sugarcane and gr eat sugar haciendas. The distinction casts the period of Spanish colonialism, especial ly its legacy of the Spanish language, as culturally valuable for Puerto Rica ns, and the period of Am erican colonialism and military imperialism as culturally and economically detrimental. As a teenager, Amrica planned to participate in one of the comm onplace protests against the United States Navys maneuvers until Correa told her that [w]omen should stay out of politics (253). Although Amrica superficially followed Co rreas advice, she still silently respects those who protest the Navys actions on her small island, which is a pproximately twenty-one miles long and three miles wide (Vieques Island). Amrica worked with and still supports those Viequenese AntiAmerican protestors who significan tly have changed the course of Viequess history, influencing the Navys termination of training activities on Vi eques in 2003, approximate ly seven years after Santiago published Amricas Dream Amrica takes more immediate action to prevent her daughter from repeating more of her mistakes. Amrica asks a local police officer, Odilio Pagn, to help her locate Rosalinda and
108 prosecute Rosalindas older boyfriend, Taino, for having sex with her young daughter. In response, Pagn states, Of course there are laws but these things are better handled privately (23). Whereas Pagn dismisses Amricas reque st to prosecute Taino as inappropriate, he encourages Amrica to take legal action agains t Correa for domestic abuse. Pagns advice angers Amrica, who alludes to Yamila and he r family in the following statement: But some peoples sons just cant get arrested for raping someone elses daughter. Amrica, whose puffy face still shows the signs of Correas most recent domestic abuse, interprets Pagns unwillingness to prosecute Taino for rape and hi s willingness to prosecute Correa for domestic abuse as a symptom of her and Yamilas di ssimilar socioeconomic status. Whereas the unmarried twenty-nine year old Am rica lives in a small dilapidated house with her mother and works as a maid for affluent tourists and homeo wners, the Valentn Saavedras live in a gated mansion overlooking the Caribbean Sea. But Viequenese cultural norms, rather than a ffluence or military ties to the United States, influence Pagns treatment of Rosalinda and Ta inos sexual relationship as a private matter and Amrica and Correas abusive domestic relati onship as a legal matter. Pagn interprets Amricas suggestion to prosecute Taino for rape as a sign that she has b een listening in on too many conversations at La Casa, where many Am erican tourists stay while vacationing in Vieques. Pagn and Correa, the other male protagonist employed by the Puerto Rican government, associate American culture with radi cal ideologies and beha viors that encourage women to disrespect men. According to the narrator, Correa says that Puerto Rican women who go to New York come back behaving like Americanas, and he doesnt like Americanas. Our Portorras (Puerto Rican women), he says, the old-fashioned ones Im talking about, know how to treat a man, they know the meaning of the word respect Our women, he tells his fr iends, are well trained. (118)
109 Puerto Rican womens schooling in femininity stems from the foundational period of Puerto Rican cultural nationalism, whic h roughly spans the political reign of the first popularly elected governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Muoz Marn, from his election in 1948 until the late 1960s when a pro-statehood administration took political power (Cruz 111; Kennerly). In the Harvard Educational Review Cati Marsh Kennerly discusses the wa ys in which the Ma rn administration used state sponsored organizations to define tropes of femininity, and a masculinized heritage of memory. Notably, the Division of Community E ducations Libros para el Pueblo (Books for the People) were created specifica lly to regulate womens role as citizens. The images went from the simple obligatory scene of the woman serving coffee to her role in religion, hygiene, and marriage. In Amricas Dream the government employees ca rry on the tradition of reifying gender roles that Puerto Ricos cultural nationalist organizations originally disseminated in the forties. Because Amrica idealizes the old-fashioned gender roles, she feel s helpless to change the course of her own life and her daughters life after Correa finds her with Taino in Fajardo, approximately one week after their departure ( 38). Amrica thinks that she and Rosalinda dashed their domestic dreams of socioeconomic advancement through marriage when they had extramarital sex as young teenagers. Amrica fo rlornly concludes the following on Rosalindas decision to run away from home and school with Taino: The elopement with Taino is the event around which everything in Rosalindas life will now turn, for which there are no right answers, no right feelings, no right course. It is the anger that makes her cry, th e knowledge that shes lost he r daughter, the certainty that Correa will take her away even if Amrica doesnt give her permission to go. (62) In contrast, Tainos parents inte rpret their sons departure as a sign that he needs to start over outside of Vieques; they send hi m to New York. Amrica, howeve r, tries to keep Rosalinda at home with her even though Correa and Rosalin da think that Rosali nda should also leave
110 Vieques. Rosalinda wants to distance herself fr om her schoolmates, who have taunted her since she ran away with Taino, just as Amricas sc hoolmates taunted her af ter she ran away with Correa (74). Rosalinda tells her mother, I want to start over, and I cant do it here (75). In response, Amrica tells Rosalinda, Running away from your problems doesnt make them go away. Amrica advises Rosalinda to face thei r shared history in Vieques, but only Amrica follows this advice. Amrica traces her matrilineal history on the island of Vieques back to Marguerite, her first female ancestor to live on the island. Marg uerite arrived on Vieques as a sixteen year old maid with her French mistress, whom Amri ca remembers as Madame. Madame emigrated from France to marry a Frenchman, whose name is lost to memory, who had traveled to Vieques after inheriting a sugarc ane plantation from a distant rela tive (76). Madame became pregnant with the Frenchman after their wedding a nd died with their heir in childbirth (77). Madames young maid, Marguerite, continued worki ng for the French widower in the plantation house and bore his daughter, Dominique. Domi niques biological fa ther abandoned her and Marguerite on Vieques. Since Dominique was never le gitimized by her father, she, Marguerite, and their female descendants never have had any legal ownership of the land where they historically have lived and worked (77). Marguerite and Domini ques twentieth century descendents, Ester and Amrica, still work as maids in the same plantation house where Marguerite and Dominique worked as housekee pers, the primary difference being that an affluent male foreigner has converted the Fren chmans plantation house into the only hotel on the island: the hotels name, La Casa del Fran cs, memorializes Amricas male ancestor, who originally built the plantation house, rather than her female an cestors, who historically have maintained the property (1, 76). Amricas rumi nation over her matrilineal history goes against
111 the grain of what Kennerly has referred to as a masculinized heritage of memory, and the location of Amricas feminized heritage of memo ry within the chapter, Five Days a Month, which refers to the perpetually blue days of Amricas menstrual cycle, accentuates the depressing nature of Amrica and her matrilineal ancestorss life cycles. After Amrica contemplates the degree to which she has repeated her ancestorss lives, she realizes that she must do more than be a bad example for Rosalinda: Amrica uncharacteristically rebels agains t Correa on the very day when she learns that Rosalinda secretly has arranged to leave her home in Vieques for her fathers relatives in Fajardo (78). Rosalinda only admits that Correa will soon arrive to take her to Fajardo after Amrica asks why she has not dressed for school. Amrica th en decides to stand up to Correa: Ive never stood up to him, she tells herself, but this I will not allow. He will not take my daughter from me. Even if he kills me, he wont take her (83). Amrica verbally questions Correas decision when he arrives. After Amrica realizes that words alone will no t change Correas plan to take Rosalinda to Fajardo, she physically attacks Co rrea while protesting his plans: Amrica beats and slaps Correa while screaming, No! No! No! No! (85). Correa subsequently beats Amrica into unconsciousness while Rosalinda vainly tries to stop her parents from hurting each other any further. Rosalinda leaves her unconscious mother and goes with Correa to live with Ta Estrella and Prima Fefa in Fajardo, where her father also lives with his legal wife and their children. After Amrica unsuccessfully stands up to Co rrea regarding her daught ers plans to leave her home and Vieques, she returns to her old habi ts, working at La Casa del Francs as a maid during the day and periodically babysitting for the hotels affluent American guests during the evenings. Amrica agrees to baby sit for Karen and Charlie Leveretts two children, a seven year old named Kyle and a three year old named Meghan, for four of the ten night s that they stay at
112 La Casa (94, 107). During their initial in troduction, the three year old Meghan dismisses Amricas name as her own country: America is where we live (94). Karen explains the difference an accent makes to Meghan: No silly, that s America, our country! She is Amrica. Its a proper name here (95). Meghans ques tion and her mothers response reiterate that Amrica symbolizes her precar ious location within and outsi de of America, both as a Viequenese-born inhabitant of an island that the United States Na vy has used as a bombing range since World War II and also as a citizen of a country that has been embroiled in American politics since the Spanish-American war in the la te nineteenth century. Amrica conceives of herself as a Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican, not an English-speaking American. The accent in her name stresses Amricas identification with her Spanish linguistic and cultural heritage, which she proficiently imparts to the Leverett children (98). Amricas interaction with the Leveretts, who initially personify Amricas domestic dream, and estrangement from Rosalinda, who sh attered Amricas domestic dream of marriage and homeownership for her daughter, generates a significant shift in Amricas focus from otherss happiness, namely Rosalinda and Corre as. Amrica begins to think about her own dreams, which she abandoned after running away with Correa and becoming an unmarried mother: How often she dreamed of a house full of child ren, girls and boys runni ng in and out of a neat home with curtains fluttering in the br eeze, gardens flowering in a million colors, birds singing sweetly in the shade. There was a husband in her dreams, a man not unlike Correa, tall and dark, muscular, with a lovely voice and thick black hair. They would stand on the porch of their sweet-smelli ng home, arms around each others waists, watching their children play unde r a mango tree. And they woul d be filled with love for each other, for what they had brought forth, for a future shiny with promise. (108) In her former dreams, Amrica occupies the traditional feminine role of loving wife and mother in a home that she shares with her loving husband. As an unmarried mother and maid, Amrica dismisses her former domestic dream as old-f ashioned, because women nowadays want to be
113 scientists and leaders of nations (107). Alt hough Amrica does not embrace the latter modern professional dream at this point in her life, she begins to wonder why she abandoned her own domestic dream so early in life. Amrica deduces from the unequal expectations for Viequenese boys an d girls that sexist cultural norms have played a si gnificant part in th e degree to which she has abandoned her own dreams as a young teenager and projected those same abandoned dreams onto her daughter. Whereas Correa and Taino gained social status when they ran away with young teenage females, Amrica and Rosalinda lost social status when they ran away with olde r males. Therefore, Amrica concludes that in Vieques, It is expe cted that boys will be men, but girls are never supposed to be women; When a boy has sex, it elevates him in the eyes of other people. When a girl has sex, she falls (113). After Amrica reconsiders Viequenese peoples appreciation of males virility and females vi rginity as unfair, she reconsid ers the ways in which she has contributed to her static loca tion in the socioeconomic base of Viequenese society. She recognizes that she let Correa keep her down because he was a man in her eyes (114). In other words, Amrica senses that the cultural phenomenon of machismo ha s shaped the lives of young Viequenese boys and girls; sh e discusses machismo as such after she immigrates to the United States and hears other Latin as referring to Puerto Rican men as machista and Latinoss attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors as mach ismo (190, 265). According to the cultural anthropologist Rafael L. Ramr ez, Isabel Pics definition of machismo, in a study on gender and education in Puerto Rico in the late seventie s, exemplifies the way in which social scientists, feminists, and novelists traditiona lly have used the term since it was popularized in the forties and fifties (7): We take machismo to be the set of attitudes, beliefs, and behavior th at results from belief in the superiority of one sex ove r the other. Within this visi on of the world, the superior
114 sex is male. This superiority is due to various aspects: physical, intellectual, characterological, cultura l, and sexual. Machismo is e xpressed essentially through habits, traditions, and attitudes that are discriminatory toward the female sex. It is a cultural phenomenon originating in economic conditions that it transcends in order to become cause and effect, and thus legitimates the ineq ualities that exist in society. (Pic qtd. in Ramrez 17) Although Ramrez criticizes Pics definition of machismo for uncritically and stereotypically homogenizing Latin men in his analytical essay on the evolution of the term machismo (23), Amrica begins to associate Puerto Rican men a nd culture with machismo. In Vieques, Amrica scrutinizes traditional Viequenese cultural norms which have significantly shaped her decision to remain in a romantic relationship with a ve rbally and physically a busive lover for fifteen years; however, she does not exchange Viequenese machismo for the Anglo-American feminism she has gleaned from Americanas vacationing at La Casa. In fact, Amrica distrusts the United States and American culture to such a degree that she doubts if she could live and work there. Th e Leveretts give Amrica this option after they return to New York, offering her employment as their housekeeper and nanny, and Amricas mother, Ester, encourages her to take the positi on. Amrica has numerous reservations regarding Karens proposition. Primarily, Amrica thinks th at most Puerto Ricans have decreased their quality of living through moving to New York. According to the narrator, Some of her neighbors [in Vieques] who have gone to New York talk about how hard lif e is over there, about apartments infested with roaches and mice, a bout drive-by shootings a nd drug deals on their doorsteps (117). Secondarily, Amrica thinks that the few Puerto Ricans who have made better lives for themselves in the United States have sacrificed their Puerto Rican heritage in the process. For example, Amricas first cous in Carmen Ortiz, who was born and raised New York, is always criticizing Puerto Ricans, talking about how things would be better if the island were a state, instead of in its current stat us as an autonomous commonwealth of the United
115 States or the other option of an independent Puer to Rican nation (118). Amricas criticism of Carmens pro-statehood position, traditionally associ ated with American assimilation, indicates the degree to which she resents Pu erto Ricos political history with the United States as well as the degree to which she wants to prevent any fu rther integration between Puerto Rico and the United States. Despite the fact that the novels title, Amricas Dream evokes the popular rhetorical trope of the American dream, Amri ca does not originally believe in or desire the American dream of economic success for herself or her daughter. Amrica only considers immigrating to the Un ited States because Correas violence so threatens her life in Vieques. Amrica keeps he r immigration plans privat e in order to protect herself from Correas vengeance, only mentioning her plans to her mother and boss, Don Irving. After Amrica decides to leave Vieques and Correa, she uncharacteristically advises her mother to prosecute Correa for abuse if he ever harasses her at her home for information regarding Amricas whereabouts. In the past, Amrica ne ver prosecuted Correa for domestic abuse, even in the instances when Officer Pagn arrived on the scene in response to neighborss reports of domestic violence (120). Amrica even waits unt il the eve of her departure to tell Rosalinda of her immigration plans, plead ing with Rosalinda to hide he r departure from Correa: He musnt know. I cant take his abuse anymore. If I stay, hell kill me (126). Amrica refuses to give Rosalinda or anyone else her new addr ess and phone number in order to retain her separation from Correa and protect her own life, and she flies to the United States with the intention of only returning afte r Correas death. Amricas immigr ation to the United States corresponds with the halfway point on the novel. Whereas the firs t half of the novel exposes the degree to which Amrica and the other Gonzalez women historically have abandoned their own dreams after submitting to the sexua l desires of older men, the s econd half of the novel exposes
116 the degree to which Amrica take s back control of her life, gr adually exchanging her abandoned domestic dream of marriage for a more m odern American dream of socioeconomic advancement. Amricas Spanish American Dream The novel represents Amricas departure fr om her mothers home in Vieques as a necessary step in physically and psychologica lly disengaging herself from the Gonzalez womens repetition of their female ancestorss depressing history on th e island of Vieques. Amrica regards her emigration from Vieques and employment in the New York as personal and material opportunities. Amrica concludes that in New York she will be [i]n a new life. Starting over (122). On her firs t evening in the United States, Am rica goes to the Leverettss mansion in Bedford, a suburb of New York C ity in Westchester County (130, 136, 161). The entire Leverett family proudly shows Amrica where she will live while working as their housekeeper and nanny. Amrica thinks that her furn ished room above their garage is the nicest shes ever lived in, bigger than her living room at her mothers house in Vieques (134). As Amrica drifts to sleep in her new room, she thinks of Correa: His eyes. Hes so angry. Hes going to hurt me. Dont, Correa! Stop! ( 137). Amrica jolts awake and interprets her nightmare as a sign that Correa already knows of her departure and has st arted searching for her (137). Although Amricas standard of living s uperficially increases on the evening of her American immigration, her quality of living still suffers from th e potential threat of Corrreas response to her rebellious actions, reminding Amr ica that she, her mother, and her daughter can not simply start over; they must face their problems in order to make better lives for themselves. Amricas emigration from Vieques notably inspires her mother, Ester, to start challenging the control that Correa exerts in her own home. Ester stands up to Correa after he learns from a
117 stranger of Amricas flight and demands more information from Ester (154). Whereas Amrica emulated Correas physically abusive behavior when she fought Correa for Rosalinda, Ester emulates her understanding of Anglo-American fe ministss behavior when she fights Correa for Amricas privacy in the United States. Ester pe rforms the role of a popular American icon of female empowerment, Lorena Bobbit, to retr act Correas role as th e master of her own household (57). She successfully brandishes he r machete and states, Remember Lorena! (155). Correa leaves Esters home without any additional information on Amricas whereabouts. Afterwards, Ester brags to Amrica of her bold response to Co rreas abuse: I told him Id cut his dick, a symbol of masculinity and sexual virility (Ramrez 10), off if he came near me! (155). In addition, Ester shares that her lover, Don Irving, followed Amricas advice and reported Correa to the police when he subs equently harassed Don Irving into revealing Amricas whereabouts; Correa finally spent the night in jail (155). Este rs performance of an Anglo-American womans behavior achieves her aim of protecting herself, Amrica, and her home from the abusive Correa, even as it mocks the extremism of Anglo-American women. Although Amrica initially feel s extremely lonely after le aving her mothers home in Vieques to live and work for the English-sp eaking Leveretts among million dollar homes in Westchester County, she eventually builds a la rger and more supportive social network of Spanish-speaking family members and friends in New York than she had in Vieques. During Amricas first weekend in the United States, he r interaction with the Spanish language tempers her sense of loneliness. She interprets th e OFICINA HISPANA sign and the Spanish spoken in a Viequenese-owned Chinese restaurant as indi cators of other Spanish sp eakers in the affluent New York suburb (161). During Amricas s econd weekend in the United States, she takes the train to visit her mothers Puerto Rican-bor n sister and brother-in-law, Paulina and Leopoldo
118 Ortiz, whom she had not seen for years (181) While on the train to the Bronx, Amrica analyzes the degree to which her life has change d in past two weeks, and she concludes the following: For the first time I can remember Im in control ( 182). Speaking Spanish with her relatives, including her first cousins, Carmen, Orla ndo, and Elena, brings tears to Amricas eyes (184). In the narrators words, Its a relief not to have to translate her thoughts, but the relief it brings is the sa me as slipping into a comfortable shoe ; after a while you fo rget the initial pleasure (185). Amrica routinely speaks Spanis h with her extended family and their close friends at Paulina and Leopoldos apartment on her days off (166, 186, 194). Language plays a significant role in Amrica sense of loneliness wi th the English-speaking Leveretts and her sense of belonging with her Spanishspeaking family and friends. In the novel and her other writ ing, Santiagos writing on the burden of translating ones Spanish thoughts into English gestures towards the irony of writing the story of the Puerto Rican-born Amricas dream in English. Santia go specifically discusse s this issue in an additional Introduccin (Introduction) to her first memoir, When I was Puerto Rican (1993) which she herself translated into the Spanish edition, Cuando Era Puertorriquea (1994). Santiago admits, La vida relatada en este libro fue vivida en espaol, pero fue inicialmente escrita en ingles (The life narrated in this book was lived in Spanish, but it was initially written in English) (xv). Similarly, the lif e narrated in the first edition of Amricas Dream and her second memoir, Almost a Woman, was lived in Spanish and translated into English. Literary critics have discussed the cultura l factors, such as Santiagos secondary, college, and graduate work at elite American institutions (Snchez 136), and what Keith Alan Sprouse has described as an a recent trend in U.S. publishing in which the literary production of Latino/a and Chicano/a writers appears in both Spanish and English (1 07), at play in Santiago and other Spanish
119 Caribbean and Chicana authorss de cisions to publish English and then Spanish editions of their literature, and also criticized Santiago for yiel ding to the publishing industrys Anglo-American niche market (Ramos 33); however, in the English and Spanish editions of Santiagos novel and memoirs, she communicates to English and Spanish audiences the degree to which the Spanish language shapes Amricas sense of self and home.2 In Amricas Dream Amricas conversations with Spanish-speaking women play a more significant role in her reev aluation of her dreams than Amr icas contact with her Englishspeaking American employer, Karen, whom Amrica had idolized for simultaneously embodying her old-fashioned domestic dream of marriage and otherss more modern dreams of individual socioeconomic adva ncement. Amrica realizes fr om a conversation with Paulina on Spanish Caribbean immigrantss pursuit of a Sp anish American dream in the United States that she and Paulina traveled to the United St ates with extremely different expectations. Whereas Amrica primarily immigrated to the Un ited States in order to save herself from Correas domestic abuse, Paulina immigrated to the United States with her new husband, Leopoldo, to stumble upon a Spanish American dream of economic success. Paulina explains how she and other immigrants from the Spanis h Caribbean view the American dream through a 2 Julia lvarez published How the Garca Girls Lost Their Accent in English in 1991 and Spanish in 1994: Julia lvarez, How the Garca Girls Lost Their Accent, (Chapel Hill: Algonquin 1991) and De como las chicas Garca perdieron su acento, trans. Jordi Gubern, (Barcelona, Spain: Ediciones B, 1994). Sandra Cisneros also published The House on Mango Street in English in 1991 and Spanish in 1994: Sandra Cisneros, House on Mango Street, Vintage Books (New York: Random House, 1991) and La Casa en Mango Street, trans. Elena Poniatowska, Vintage Espaol (New York: Random House, 1994). Cristina Garca published Dreaming in Cuban in English in 1992 and in Spanish in 1994, and she published The Agero Sisters in English in this year and in Sp anish in this year: Christina Garca, Dreaming in Cuban: A Novel, Ballantine Books (New York: Random House, 1992) and Soar en cubano, trans. Alan West, Ballantine Books (New York: Random House, 1994). The first generation Puerto Rican American Santiago published When I Was Puerto Rican, Vintage Books (New York: Random House, 1993) and Cuando era Puertorriquea, trans. Santiago, Vintage Espaol (New York: Random House, 1994); Almost a Woman, Vintage Books (New York: Random House, 1999) and; Santiago, Amricas Dream, (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc, 1996). Santiago might be the first Latina writer to translate her own book, When I Was Puerto Rican, into Spanish (Sprouse 108; Snchez 131).
120 Latin American lens of the legend of El Dora do, which Bart L. Lewis has depicted as an impetus for peoples pursuit of the American dream in the American West during the late nineteenth century (24). Paulina tells Amri ca, the Dominicanss country is as backward as Puerto Rico was thirty years ago. They came here just like we did, full of dreams, expecting the streets to be paved with gold (187). Paulinas narration of her and Leopoldos past American dreams echoes Santiagos narration of her own ancestor ss American dreams in her first memoir. According to Santiago in When I was Puerto Rican her own parents naively expected to find the promise of Ponce de Len s El Dorado in New York upon their arrival, when Santiago was only a young teenager (37). In Amricas Dream and When I was Puerto Rican the older Puerto Rican American immigrants link their own and other Spanish Caribbean immigrantss willingness to believe in and pursu e an American dream of affluence, through the myth of Ponce de Lens El Dorado, to their home countriess signifi cantly poorer economic status and their belief in Americas si gnificantly richer economic status. Paulinas discussion of her own past pursuit of a Spanish American dream causes Amrica to wonder how her life would have differed if her own mother had also believed in and pursued a Spanish version of the American dream. Paulin a, who descended from th e same matrilineal line as Ester, forged a new path for herself and her descendents in the United States. In New York, Paulina lives with her husband and has a hea lthy relationship with he r three grown children, Elena, Carmen, and Orlando, and their family, which includes Orlandos Puerto Rican wife, Teresa, and their daughter, Eden (188). Amr ica also improves her relationship with her daughter after she moves to New York: she spea ks with Rosalinda on the phone for nearly an hour; [i]t is the longest conve rsation she had with her daughter in months, one in which Rosalinda learns something and seems grateful for it (204). Amrica wonders if her mother
121 repeated the self-destructive mi stakes of her matriarchal ances tors, because Ester never had Paulinas spirit. Her life, circumscribed by her ga rden, her soap operas, he r occasional couplings with Don Irving, is all she seems to want. Maybe, if Mami had been more like Paulina, my life would be different (187). Amricas analysis of Paulina and Esters differing degrees of spirit or ambition implies that her own life would have been bette r if Ester had also immigrated to New York. Paulinas American immigration apparently liberated her from her female ancestors cycle of being an unde rpaid and unmarried mother on the same plot of Viequenese soil, indicating that Amricas immigration w ill liberate her and Rosalinda from the same matrilineal cycle. While working as a housekeeper and nanny in Be dford, Amrica finds that the majority of the Spanish-speaking women whom she meets in Bedford have also immigrated to the United States in order to pursue their own dreams. The Spanish-speaking women from Central America and the Caribbean tell Amrica how, in the places they come from, ever yone dreams of coming to the United States (253). They also have ma de extreme professional s acrifices in order to work illegally as housekeepers and nannies for affl uent American families in the United States: Liana, from El Salvador, was a bank teller. Frida, from Paraguay, was a schoolteacher. Mercedes, from the Dominican Republic, was a telephone operator. [. ] Theyve entered the United States illegally, and theyre amazed that she, an American citizen, would work as a maid. (219) They all seem horrified at Amricas job, as if her American citizenship and spoken English skills entitle her to greater things, such as mo re education and the prof essional jobs that they themselves had held in their home countries (219). The Guatemalan-born Adela directly questions Amricas ambition: Why would you work interna if youre Americana? (218). In response, Amrica states that she is not an American: Im Puerto Rican, but Im a[n American] citizen. It means we dont need perm ission to live and work here in the United
122 States (218). Muiz clarifies th at only since the 1950s could Puer to Ricans travel freely to American in search of bread, land, and libert y, although Puerto Ricans have had American citizenship since the passage of the Jones Act in 1917 (Muiz 79; Puerto Rico). Amricas parsing of her Puerto Rican cultural identificatio n and American legal status gestures towards a time when the American citizens living in Puerto Rico could not freely live and work in the United States and also indicates the degree to which her identification with Puerto Rico and political disidentification from the United Stat es has prevented her from seeing the ways in which she could use her American citizenship to improve her life and family memberss lives in the United States. The Spanish-speaking women effectively insp ire Amrica to scrutinize her own ambition (222). Amrica concludes, Adela is right. Im not ambitious enough. All those women, living in fear of being sent back to their countries have big dreams for themselves. I dont (220). Santiago echoes Amricas conclu sion in a 1997 interview with Carmen Dolores Hernndez on Amricas Dream and states, in the case of Amrica, the reason she cant get ahead is because she is very passive. That passivity was something I noticed immediately when I came to Puerto Rico in 1976. I noticed it because I wasnt th at way. I was assertive and if youre asser tive youre not feminine in Puerto Rico. Amer ican women got rid of that th irty years ago, but not Puerto Rican women. (166) In this portion of the interview, Santiago attributes Amricas pa ssivity to Puerto Rican culture and her own assertiveness to American culture, where Santia go has lived with her parents since 1961 ( Almost a Woman 3). In the novel, Santiago offers a more nuanced version of the differences between a machista Puerto Rican cu lture and feminist American culture. Although Amrica develops much more assertiveness after sh e moves to the United States and realizes that womens degree of personal ambition significantl y shapes whether they will break free from their oppressive personal histories, other Latinas not Americanas, primarily inspire Amrica to
123 pursue bigger dreams for herself than worki ng as a low paid housekeeper and nanny for the Leveretts. Amricas free interaction with the Latinas in the United States causes her to similarly inspire Rosalinda to be more ambitious in her ow n life, shifting the family history from one of inadvertently repeating their matrilineal ancestor ss mistakes to purposef ully shaping their own futures. During Amricas next phone conversati on with her daughter, she encourages Rosalinda to consider and express her personal goals, asking Do you know what you might like to be when you grow up? (220). This question, whic h Amrica describes as a normal question, strikes Rosalinda as abnormal. According to the narrator, the sullenness in [Rosalindas] voice indicates that Amrica has neve r asked Rosalinda this question before. Rosalinda reluctantly explains that she wants to be a vedette (221) Rosalindas professiona l aim to dance in MTV music videos takes Amrica by surprise, just as Amricas professional aim to work as housekeeper and nanny takes the other Spanish-sp eaking women who also work as housekeepers and nannies in Bedford by surprise. Rosa lindas mother and Amricas new Latina acquaintances respectively think that Rosalinda and Amrica should have even bigger dreams for themselves. In the United States, Amrica starts taki ng small steps to take more control of her personal and professional life: she asks people to treat her with re spect. Amrica takes a firm but fair approach, which she learned from a ra dio psychologist, to improve the way in which her daughter and employer treat her (254). Firs t, Amrica explains in a letter to Rosalinda, whom she had not called in weeks, that she will only resume calling her if she agrees to stop hanging up the phone every time [she] doesnt agr ee with Amrica. Next, Amrica asks Karen for a much-deserved raise. Amrica originally agreed to work as the Leverettss housekeeper
124 and nanny for eight hours a day, five days a week (140, 147, 255); however, she regularly has been working seven more hours per day than originally specified, without receiving any additional wages (255). In addi tion, Karen exudes reproach when Amrica leaves the family and the house on her days off (160). Karen firmly rejects Amricas reques t, explaining that she must work for a full year in order to be eligible for a raise (255). Kare ns refusal of Amricas legitimate request spoils their relationship and complicates Amricas former equation of Americanas with radical feminists. Whereas Kare ns presence in her life in Vieques had inspired her to consider her own dreams, and evaluate th em as old-fashioned when compared to the professional careers of American women like Kare n, Karens presence in her life in the United States makes her regard class as a limiting factor in Americanass application of feminism. Amrica senses the degree to which professiona l American women exploit the working class women who enable them to achieve their own professional dreams outside of the home. In contrast, Amricas Latina friends individually pursue professional advancement even as they support working class women. The Latinass opinions on Latinoss machismo and Anglo-Americanass feminism emerges in a c onversation of the ways in which American immigration has increased their power in romantic relationships and decreased their boyfriendss and husbandss power in romantic and profession al relationships. The women agree that living and working within American homes and for American families requires their husbands to play a significantly less masculine role than they ha d occupied in their home countries. The Dominican-born Mercedes explains, Its different for the men to work interno in the United States: They live in a house that s not theirs, and its usually th e lady in the house thats telling them what to do. Our men like to wear the pa nts in the family (265). The Paraguayan-born Frida adds that Latino men must abandon their belie f in machismo in order to live and work in
125 the United States: In this country you cant be too proud, declares Frida, You have to do what it takes. Theres no place for th at kind of machismo (265). Me rcedes and Fridas depiction of Latinos evokes Pics definition of machismo as a set of attitudes, beli efs, and behavior that results from belief in the superior ity of one sex over the other. Within this vision of the world, the superior sex is male (Pic v qtd. in Ram rez 17). The feminist tenor of Mercedes and Fridas analysis of Latinos startle[s] Amri ca: however, Frida assuages Amrica trepidation through identifying the s ource as a Latina who writes in Spanish on what we mujeres [women] should do to get ahead in this country (265). Frida successfully defends her position through authenticating its source as a Latina rather than Anglo-American feminist, which the Spanish-speaking men and women in the novel gene rally associate with an extreme aggression towards men and children that bo rders on absurdity, such as Lore nas castration of her husband and Amricas description of feminists as wome n who tell every woman to have an abortion and every man to clean house (114, 155). Amrica reconsiders the degree to which sh e has not honored herself through complying with Correas machismo. Amrica admits to Frida that she caused her to reconsider machismos source and effects: Latinos inve nted machismo, and I always thought of it like only as the way they treat women, possessiveness and jealousy and all that; But its really about pride (265). Amrica reconsiders machismo in terms of Latinoss pursuit of personal honor, rather than their poor treatment of women. Amri ca further sheds her homogonous view of Latinos, which scholars have critiqued (C ruz 112-13), after she interacts with her Puerto Rican male family members and their friends in New York. The narrator observes th e following after Daro voluntarily takes Amrica from the train station to her aunt and uncles house: Even though she really doesnt want anything to do with men, this man is not so bad as the others. As the other,
126 she reminds herself as she starts up the stairs (257). Amricas immigration to the United States not only encourages her to develop enoug h self-respect to search for and pursue her own dreams; it also causes her to de velop enough respect for the Puerto Rican men and other Latinos whom she had dismissed as machista (266). Correa tests the degree to which Amrica has changed since she left Puerto Rico. Correa deduces Amricas location from an envelope that Amrica sent to Rosalinda, crosschecking the envelopes postmark with his guardhouse r ecords: the Bedford, New York postmark only matches the Leverettss home address, which the Leveretts stated when they visited the public beach in Vieques where Correa stands guard (273 ). Correa then uses the Leverettss name and home address to find their number in the phone book. He calls Amrica at the Leverettss home on her thirtieth birthday ( 271), approximately three months after she immigrated to the United States (263). Amrica hangs up the phone while Correa sings her Happy bird day and resents the degree to which Correa still controls her thoughts and actions realizing, This what he wants. Even from Puerto Rico hes control ling me, keeping me locked in my room [above the Leverettss garage] waiting for him; however, Amrica submits to Correas control, waiting by the phone instead of celebrating her birthday with relatives and her new love interest, Daro (297). During Correa and Amricas first lengthy c onversation in nearly three months, Correa and Amrica perform deceitful ro les in order to achieve their divergent goals of reunion and separation. On the one hand, Correa performs the role of Amricas loving husband and Rosalindas supportive father in order to persua de Amrica to accept a one-way plane ticket to Puerto Rico. Correa, who describes himself as a new man, falsely promises Amrica what she had wanted: a church wedding, non-abusive rela tionship, and home where she, Correa, and
127 Rosalinda could live as a family (280). On the other hand, Amrica performs the role of Correas girlish seductress in order to main tain her separation from Correa in the United States. Amrica purposefully and effectively us es a girlish tone and submissive responses, such as Yes, All right, or Oki, in order to secure more time apart from Correa. They verbally agree that Correa will buy Amrica a one-way plane ticket to Puerto Rico that departs from New York in one week, six days later than Correa originally had sugge sted as the departure date; however, Amrica secretly plans to use this extra time to start over elsewhere in the United States. During the following week, Amrica considers the ways in which she could permanently break away from Correas control ling influence on her life. First, Amrica overcomes her fear of gossip and asks one of the neighboring domestics, Frida, to help her find employment elsewhere in the United States. According to the narrator, Its taken all her energy to make that one call [to Frida], to admit to someone that she needs help (282). Next, Amrica considers cutting all social ties, ranging from her new Latina friends to her nuclear a nd extended family, in order to ensure her freedom from Correa: As for me, I have one week to figure things out. One week to disappear to God knows where. And once I do, I will not tell anyone. Not Mami. Not Rosalinda. Not even Ta Paulina. None of them. Ill go some place where no one knows me. A place with no Puerto Ricans, so that there s no chance Ill see a nyone I know. I might even change my name. But Im not going back. Not for him [, Correa]. Not for her [daughter, Rosalinda]. Not for anybody. (283) In order to put her decision to start over and put herself first into words, Amrica decides to change her name to Margarita, in honor of her great-great-great grandmother. Her last name would be Guerra, for war (287). Amricas self -conscious selection of th e name Margarita over its French namesake, Marguerite, or its Ameri canize[d] equivalent, M argie, indicates that she desires to honor her Puerto Rican heritage even as she breaks out of its cycle of violence on
128 the island of Vieques. The combative Spanish surname Guerra also suggests that she is exchanging her passivity for assertiven ess. According to the narrator, She said the name so many times that, when she entered the [Leverettss] house and heard the loud Amrica, it was as if shed been found out, all the fantasies of a new life, incognita in the woods of Connectic ut, had been discovered. (287). Finally, Amricas interaction wi th the Leveretts br[eaks] thr ough the dream of safety shed formed (287). Amrica resigns herself to returning to Correa in Puerto Rico, and Correa accordingly reverts back to his old behavioral routines of dom inance over Amrica, frequently monitoring her actions through phone calls. In th e narrators words, H es no longer the sweet lover. Hes telling her what to do. Every once in a while he calls her baby. But now that he knows where she is, and that shes willing to come back to him, hes the man hes always been (297). Amrica regards returning to Correa and her former life in Puerto Rico, including her domestic abuse and low paid work as a maid, as her destiny. Amrica willingly abandons the control th at she had reclaimed in her personal and professional life and disengages from the stronger social network of Latinas and extended family members that she had developed since arriving in New York (297). She plans on secretly departing for the airport before the Leveretts re turn from their vacation, only leaving a note in as much English as she can remember, saying sh es sorry, but she had to go (301). Amrica takes a similar approach towards leaving her rela tives and her new love in terest, Daro, telling them that she will stop by the following weekend even as she plans on returning to Correa in Puerto Rico (302). Although Amrica intends to re turn to Correa, she fears the way in which he might respond to her unannounced departure to the United States. Amricas concern over Correas response significantly increases after Co rrea insists on meeting her at the Leverettss home in the United States (304).
129 Correa fulfills Amricas prediction that he would try to kill her for leaving him; he breaks and enters into the Leverettss home while Amrica watches the children, prompting Amrica to fight for her life (315). Amrica calls 911 for assistance: Emergencia, por favor, ayudnme, por favor, emergencia (Emergency, pl ease, help me, please, emergency) (316). The narration of Amricas pleas in Spanish emphasizes their urge ncy: the narrator regularly indicates that Amrica speaks in English with a Puerto Rican accent to principally monolingual English speakers like the Leveretts, such as Ok i, or what Muiz refers to as code-switching between English and Spanish, such as Ya no ms, you get off; however, the narrator only intermittently records entire sent ences of Amricas speech in Spanish (Santiago 98, 101; Muiz 82). Correa physically silences Amricas mouth with his hand before she can translate all of her thoughts into English for the emergency responder. He hangs up the phone and begins verbally and physically abusing Amrica in front of the ch ildren, stabbing her with the Leverettss kitchen knife (316). Amrica intuits that Corr ea will kill her unless she stops him: Hes going to kill me. He wants to kill me. Sh e forgets shes shorter than he is, lighter by fifty pounds at least, weaker. All she knows now is that Correa, the man who claims to love her, is trying to kill her. (317) In the face of her imminent death, Amrica fight s for her life, pushing Correa and fleeing from the Leverettss bedroom, thinking, I wont let h im. He wont kill me. He wont. Correa follows Amrica, who is now bleeding profusely, and stabs her again in the back. Correas attack from behind radically changes Amricas pe rception of Correa, from her idealized lover to her savage murderer. As Amrica looks into Correas eyes, she thinks, No, this cant be him, this cant be, his green eyes so dark, so sa vage. Theres no love there. Its hate that she sees, hate that she f eels as she uses her last bit of strength to kick him hard in the one place she knows she can hur t him, between his hairy legs. He doubles over with a groan, and she kicks him again, c onnects against his lowered face this time, and he turns and falls. (318)
130 The sound of a crack, like a twig breaking, as Corre as head bounces against the angled edge of the granite coffee table stresses the fact that Am rica has delivered a fatal, significant blow; she personally secured her literal and metaphorical break from Correas domestic abuse and her cyclical matrilineal history on the island of Vi eques. Whereas the narration during the week preceding Correas arrival moves at an extrem ely protracted pace, documenting their daily interactions, the narration following Correas de ath moves much more rapidly, jumping forward days after the attack from th e Leverettss home to the hospital where Amrica recovers from multiple stab wounds. Amricas tragic split from Correa generates two pa rticularly beneficial changes in her life. First, the break restores Amrica social ties wi th her family and friends, who visit her at the hospital on the day when she regains consciousne ss. On that day, Amrica asks her family members. What happened?, but even thoug h their mouths move, none of what they say makes sense (319). Ester implies that Amrica k illed Correa in self-defe nse, telling her that he wont be bothering you anymore; however, Amr ica, who continues to drift in and out of consciousness, misunderstands her mothers statem ent, thinking that Correa is still alive in Puerto Rico (320). Amricas Latina friends also visit Amr ica in the hosp ital, where she remains for two weeks while rec overing from a punctured lung a nd severed arm muscles (322). Amrica ultimately learns of Correas death from the empleadas: Frida br ings a newspaper with the headline HOUSEKEEPER KILLS INTRUDER (322). Although this newspaper headline minimizes the role that Amrica played in th e Leverettss household and depersonalizes the attack that changed Amricas life, subsequent media reports represent Amrica as a role model for women involved in abusive romantic relationships.
131 Amricas tragic split from Correa also leads to her movement from the Leverettss garage apartment in an affluent neighborhood in suburban New York to her own two-bedroom apartment with her daughter, Ro salinda, in the Puerto Rican part of the Bronx, a neighborhood that is much closer to her fr iends and extended family (321). The Leveretts force Amrica to leave their home; they hire a permanent repl acement for Amrica during her hospitalization. Amricas female employer callously informs Am rica of her unemployed status on the day of her hospital discharge. Karen, who earlier ha d explained the significance of the accent in Amricas name to her daughter, now Americani zes her name on the outside of the envelope containing Amricas final payment, writing Am ricas name without an accent. Karens Americanization of her name indicates the de gree to which Karen already had disassociated herself from Amricas personal history (323). Karens dismissal of Amrica ultimately works to Amricas benefit. Amrica finds significan tly better employment as a maid at a Manhattan hotel that caters to business travelers. As an employee in a large hotel chain, Amrica works fewer hours, earns more money, and gets better benefits than she earned while working as a housekeeper and nanny for the Leveretts. During Amricas first three months in the United States, she makes dramatic improvements to her abusive personal life an d underpaid professional life. In the novels concluding chapter, Amrica s Dream, Amrica emerges as a role model for other women, ranging from strangers who have experienced domestic violence to her closest family members. Newspapers and radio s hows publicize the way in which Amrica had defended herself against Correas attack. As a re sult, She received letter s at the hospital from women who said theyd been battered themselves and she had given them courage to act, and a woman who wanted to write her life story (323). Amrica remains unconvinced of otherss
132 widespread adulation of her re sponse to domestic violence; ho wever, her mother and daughter try to persuade Amrica that she acted in s elf-defense (322). When the producer from the Geraldo Rivera show calls to invite Amrica to speak on domestic violence, her daughter tells Amrica: You should do it, Mami, Rosalinda in sisted. They say your story might help some women in the same situation (324). Indee d, Amricas story of self-defense restores Rosalindas loyalty to her mother and her educ ation. Rosalinda remains in the United States with her mother after initially visiting her in the hospital and performs well in school, learning English faster than Amrica woul d have predicted (324). Amr icas removal of herself from her oppressive matrilineal history in Vieques and her personal history of domestic abuse with Correa directly improves her daughters life and indirectly improves the lives of other women through the American and Spanish media. Before the novel concludes, Amrica internalizes the significance of the ways in which she has changed her life. A faint scar on her face, which Daro says is invisible, regularly reminds Amrica of her own character development (324 ). In the novels concluding paragraph, the narrator discusses the significan ce of Amricas scar from the night when Correa stabbed her with Karens kitchen knife: Its a reminder of who she is now, and who she was then. Correas woman was unscarred, but Amrica Gonzalez wears the scars he left behind the way a navy lieutenant wears his stripes. Theyre there to remind her that she fought for her life, and that, no matter how others may interpret it, she has a right to live that life as she chooses. It is, after all, her life, and shes the one in the middle of it. (325) The novels concluding sentence, It is, after all, her life, and shes the one in the middle of it, echoes the novels opening sentence, Its her life, and shes in th e middle of it (1). Whereas Amrica initially submits to the cycle of dome stic violence and oppression that permeates her life, she eventually takes owners hip of it through fighting for lif e. Amrica achieves her dream
133 of individual freedom from Correas domestic viol ence and Puerto Ricos se xist cultural norm of machismo. Conclusion The spelling of Amricas name in the nove ls concluding chapter, Amricas Dream, and the novels title, Amricas Dream indicates that Amrica maintains the empowering aspects of her Puerto Rican heritage, namely her Spanish language and culture, even as she builds her and her daughters lives in the Unite d States. Amricas migration to the United States and permanent separation from Correa faci litate her return to her nuclear and extended family and friends. Whereas Amrica terminated most of her interactions with her family and friends in order to protect herself from Correa, she restores these connections after Correas death. Amricas story reveal s that women can break out of cycles of gendered oppression without severing some of their most meaningful cultural ties, especia lly their language and family members. Amrica, Ester, and Rosalinda have comparable exposure to Spanish in their Bronx neighborhood and closer relati onships with their nuclear and extended family members in the United States than in Puerto Rico. In Amricas Dream Santiago writes against the grain of Puerto Rico and the United Statess masculinized heritage of memory (Kennerly). She situates Amricas estrangement from and movement towards personal independence against Puerto Ricos history of Spanish and American colonialism and the legacy of Span ish and American culture, including the Spanish and English language and the ideo logies of machismo and feminism. American immigration policies and cultural norms, especi ally regarding gender roles, f acilitate Amricas independence from her abusive relationship with Correa and her formation of broader and deeper support networks with extended and nucle ar family members, as well as with other Latinas, who inspire Amrica to take more control in her personal and professional life. Amrica ruptures her
134 matrilineal cycle of gendered and classed oppre ssion by transgressing her prescribed gender roles in machista Puerto Rican and feminist American society. She supplements her pursuit of the Spanish American dream of individual economic a dvancement on American soil with her ties to her Puerto Rican heritage, namely to her languag e and her Puerto Rican community in the United States. In the United States, Amrica emerge s as a model for Spanish and American women, because she fights for own her life and impr oves other womens lives in the process.
135 CHAPTER 5 RECLAIMING CARIBBEAN LABOR FROM TH E GLOBAL MARKETPLACE IN ALAN CAMBEIRAS AZCAR TRILOGY, 2001-04 Introduction Alan Cambeiras first and second novels, Azcar! The Story of Sugar (2001) and Azcars Sweet Hope. .: Her Story Continues (2004) criticize the American dream of economic success and its capitalist apparatus: they urge Dominican emigrants to return home and break Caribbean workerss economic, political, and cultural ties with Canada and the United States.1 Although academic articles have not been published on the trilogy, Caribbean authors, newspapers, and magazines have published positive reviews of Azcar! and Azcars Sweet Hope. .2 These reviews often praise the novelss visionary history of the Dominican Republic, masterful representation of the islands re ality, and unique artistry. Acco rding to the Jamaican-based Observer, Azcar! is boldly lyrical, refl ecting Caribbean sensuousness, rhythms and mysticism; this is an energetic, very unusual, an d above all, enlightening novel (Rpt. in Azcar! ). Indeed, Azcar! and Azcars Sweet Hope. synthesize the analytical elem ents of sugar realism novels,3 the racy elements of romance novels and yard fiction,4 the informative elements of travel literature, and the human rights rh etoric of critically acclaimed womens memoirs, such as the 1 The third novel has not been published yet. 2 For further reading, see reviews of the novel in France-Antille Trinidad Express Primera Hora The N ation, ltima Hora Listn Diario 3 As Joe Lockard notes, novels written about suga r from the 1940s through the 1960s portray an unappreciating familiarity with sugar and a common st rain of anti-sugar sentiment (85, 95). For further reading, see Jacques Roumanins Masters of the Dew Joseph Zobels Black Shack Alley and Paule Marshalls The Chosen Place, The Timeless People 4 The Beacon Group developed yard fiction during th e late 1920s and early 1930s in Trinidad and Tobago (Ramchand 65). Their realist fiction focuses on the Afro-Trinidadian urban poor and the yard and is known for its candid portrayals of sex and vi olence. For further reading, see C.L.R. Jamess Triumph and Alfred H. Mendess Sweetman.
136 Guatemalan-born Rigoberta Menchs (1959-) I, Rigoberta Mench (1983) and the Iranian-born Shirin Ebadis (1947-) Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope (2006).5 The trilogys first two novels narrate th e Dominican Republics transition from a declining sugar industry to an expanding tourist economy in terms of the personal and professional growth of Azcar, a young female cane cutter who was born and raised on the sugarcane plantation Esperanza Dulce (Sweet Hope).6 The sugarcane plantation owners son, Mario Montalvo, brutally rape s and impregnates Azcar on Esperanza Dulce Marios brother, Marcello Montalvo, and his Canadian-born life-par tner, Harold, protect Azcar from additional human rights abuses: they sponsor her immigratio n to and postsecondary education in Canada. After Azcar achieves the American dream of socioeconomic advancement in Canada, she returns home as an upper-level employee for a Canadian-based multinational corporation invested in expanding the Dominica n Republics tourism industry. In Azcar! Cambeira repeatedly uses human rights rhetoric and logic to represent the Caribb eans sugar and tourism industries as reincarnatio ns of slavery; they are increasingly modern but comparably exploitative multinational institutions for poor ly paid cane cutters. In Azcars Sweet Hope. Cambeira urges Caribbean exiles to return home and unite with poorly paid Caribbean workers and against the exploitive global marketplace, especially Canadian-based tour ism corporations and American-based clothing corporations operating in the Dominican Republics free trade zones. Thus far in the Azcar trilogy, Cambeira advo cates for restructuring Dominican society, and 5 In Azcars Sweet Hope. Cambeira specifically mentions Rigoberta Mench and Shirin Ebadi, who have earned substantial critical acclaim for th eir human rights-related memoirs and work (140): Mench has earned the Nobel Peace Prize (1992), and she has served as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador; Ebadi (1947-) has served as a human rights watch observer (1996), earned the Rafto Human Rights Foundation prize for human rights activities (2001), and earned the Nobel Peace Prize (2003). 6 According to Frank Moya Pons, an Ingenio Espera nza, a Batey Esperanza in the Ingenio Porvenir, and a Batey Esperanza in Ingenio Ro Haina are regist ered with the national office of statistics in the Dominican Republic (60809).
137 more broadly, Caribbean society, according to Ma rxist principles, reclaiming Caribbean labor from the dehumanizing global marketplace. Azcar! The Story of Sugar (2001) The narrator begins the Azcar trilogy by bombar ding readers with the material reality of the tropics on Esperanza Dulce where Azcar was born and raise d. The torrid heat, stench of urine and excrement, and a bone-crushing shriek evoke a history of grim realities that tourism brochures often conceal from affluent foreigners through advertising the Ca ribbean as an eternal paradise (4). The narrator e xplicitly grounds the hellish midtwentieth century present of Esperanza Dulce in slavery by informing readers that slaves constructed the century-old sugarcane plantation in 1839. The narrator blurs the distinctions between a present and past by equating the subhuman living and working conditi ons of enslaved sugarcane workers with sugarcane workers on plantations [n]owadays: Nothing much had changed since the era of plantation slavery (2, 78). Both enslaved a nd free cane cutters have substandard dwellings and precarious living conditions: they lack electricity, drinkable water, medical treatment, education, and nutrition. Enslaved and free sugarcane workers endure appalling working conditions: they are forced to work without ade quate resteven when ill or young (3, 5, 7); they cannot move freely beyond work; they do not receive adequate remuneration.7 In other words, 7 Forced labor violates article two of the Forced Labor Convention, article eight of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and article six of the American Convention of Human Rights list forced labor as a labor rights viola tion. The narrators representation of cane cutters corresponds with research on the governments treatment of Haitians. For example, after the Dominican military forces Haitians to work as cane cutters (Camejo 6,8), the Dominican military and sugar plantationss armed guards restrict Haitianss movement beyond the plantation (2, 13). Furthermore, the State Sugar Council (CEA) frequently employs children, which violates article 223 of the Dominican Republics labor code: Article 223 states that the la bor of minors less than 14 years old is prohibited (20). Article 229 of the Dominican labor code states that the employment of minors less that 18 years old in dangerous or unhealthy labor is prohibited (20). Restric ting ones freedom of movement violates article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Hu man Rights, article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 22 of the Am erican Convention of Human Rights. Cane cutters frequently report being paid less than the minimum wage specified in their work contracts, which was 24
138 the narrator speaks of centuries of cane cutters in the terms of modern human rights documents, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Ri ghts, that only began being signed by sovereign states in the middle of the tw entieth century and basically le ft women out of the drafting processes for the remainder of the century (H ernndez-Truyol 14, 29). The sugarcane plantation overseers sons brutal rape of Azcar propels her to the forefront of the novels international humans rights framework. The novel uses human rights rhetoric and logi c to show how Azcar experiences similar actual rights as female slav eseven though Azcar ha s substantially better natural and positive rights than cane cutters living in the sixteenth or even nineteenth century. In legal discourses, actual rights are the rights hum ans actually experience, natural rights are the rights that all humans ought to have, and positiv e rights are the rights created by governments or international organizations for humans, and thus, humanss only legal rights.8 Since Azcar is the Spanish word for suga r, her name swiftly emphasizes the deeply personal and material reality of a frequently historicized and narrated topic: the bitter-sweet story of sugar. The narrator generally refers to th e protagonist as Azcar and the sweetener refined from sugarcane as sugareven though the narr ator uses Spanish, French, and Kreyl words throughout the novel;9 however, the translation of Azcar into sugar in the pages preceding chapter one and the definition of Azcar/sugar in terms of the Af rican slave trade foreshadow the pesos or US$1.92 per day in 1991 (Camejo 3). For a sense of other wages in the Dominican Republic, waiters and taxi drivers (two typical jobs for male mi grants) in the international tourist destination of Sosa generally earn 2000 pesos a month, according to Brennans report in 1998 (182). 8 For further reading on the historical development of actual, natural, and positive rights, see Berta Esperanza Hernndez-Truyols Human Rights Thro ugh a Gendered Lens: Emergence, Evolution, Revolution. 9 The narrator generally italicizes all non-English wo rds and follows the non-English words with an English translation. If non-English words are used repeatedly, then the narrator stops translating those words into English. In this sense, the novel teach es English readers key Spanish, French, and Kreyl words and phrases.
139 polysemeic role Azcar, sugar, and their referent s play in the novel. As Keith Sandiford notes, sugar has the symbolic power to embody the antitheses of histor y and to trope extremes of human desire: sweetness, value, and power on the appetitive or upside; displacement, disease, and death on the negative or downside (145, 148). Th e narrative definitely shuttles the entangled terms Azcar and sugar back and forth between the appetitive or upside and the negative or downside of human desire. Thus the narrative differs from many novels written about sugar from the 1940s through the 1960s such as Masters of the Dew, Black Shack Alley, and The Chosen Place, the Timeless People (Lockard 95): Azcar! actually romanticizes sugar vis--vis Azcar. In Azcar! the narrator traces Azca rs movement from the sweet end of the sugarcane spectrum towards the bitter end of the spectrum. Azcars m ovement down this spectrum is loosely paralleled with an inverse movement fr om her position as a cane cutter on a sugarcane plantation owned by a multinational corporation to wards a much more dominant position as an administrative employee for the same Canadian-bas ed corporation. The nove l initially represents Azcar as the ideal Dominican female, an innoc ent, youthful, delicate, natural, pure brownsugar-skinned virgin (260): some would describe her as delicate like the flamboyn petals; she was certainly just as beautiful and frail (7). Consequently, she was th e plantation overseers sons prime victim, for Mario [M ontalvo] was a predator of the worst sort; only those women who werent the least bit sexually at tracted to or perversely curious about him. Were fearful of him (8).10 Mario repeatedly refers to Azcar as desirable and ed ible objects while brutally raping and physically abusing her, calling her sweet li ttle thing, sweet sugar, and Sweet 10 The narrator represents Mario as Azcars opposite, as a monstr ous, malodorous, and mechanical man, a monster of a man with forearms that bulged like giant hammers (8). In addition, the narrator notes, Although she fought with every o unce of strength that she was able to summon up, she was hardly a match for the monster (9).
140 sugarcane (9). Azcar begs for mercy, cries fo r help, and prays for death, but Mario basically bangs Azcars sweetness out of her. As Amalia L. Cabezas notes in her discussion of dominant ideologies of sex and gender in the Dominican Republic, A womans virginity is said to be the most important carrier of her value. Sex outside of marriage taints her honor and dignity (110). Mario does not leave Azcar until he is thoroughly satisfie d that he had become the victor of yet another of his shameless quest s (10). After satisfy ing his sexual appetite, Mario does not even attempt to hide the bloody da mage he had done to Azcar or the physical damage he had done to her grandmothers cabin. Mario acts as if has the right to rape Azcareven though the narratives initially positive representation of Azcar and continually negative representation of Mario signal exactly the opposite, not to mention the can e cutterss unanimous outrage over the rape. In this instance and many others, the cane cutterss outrage at their treatment rather than th e actions and attitudes of both the higher-level plantati on workers and the subs tantially higher-level employees based in Canada are supported by human rights documents Article two of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, for exam ple, clearly prohibits rape as a form of [p]hysical, sexual, and psychological violence. The General Assembly proclaimed the Declaration in 1967, meaning that it more th an likely existed when Azcar works at Esperanza Dulce .11 But the narrative repeatedly shows that cane cutters do not know about these human rights documents or their positiv e rightseven though they expre ss their oppression in terms of human rights. Therefore, the can e cutters never report Azcars rape and other crimes to the local police. 11 The novel never states Azcars birth or the present date; however, if the narratives representation of economic developments are taken in to account, especially the turn from sugar towards tourism (in 1984), then it seems that Azcar grew up during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
141 The narrators switching from Azcar to sugar and vice versa dur ing the rape scene gestures towards reading Marios production of a bitter-sweet Azcar as reenacting the long and abusive history of black slavery and Creole desire bound up with sugarcane production (Sandiford 156). Blackness is, of course, subjective. While the cane cutters perceive Azcar as having a lighter brown-sugar complexion (260), Marios Hispanic wife refers to all of his adulterous actions in the batey as black whoring, which not only blurs the distinction between Marios rape of Azcar and sex with prostitutes but also groups Azcar and other female cane cutters together with sex workers (36). Historically, slave owners holding positions on sugarcane plantations did perceive a right to total sexual access to [a ll the female] slaves (Beckles 141), and slave owners made ample use of this right: rape and sexual abuse were commonplace, and concubine and prostitution quickl y became an institutional part of Caribbean societies (Kempadoo 5). Mario s grandfather exercised this ri ght by brutally raping one of the young girls who worked in the mill house at Esperanza Dulce ; he then shot his victim and her husband dead (135). Local authorities never arrested or tried him for this double murder, and therefore, silently confirmed his right to sexually abuse the female cane cutters and their loved ones. Marios brutal rape of Az car also signals his perc eived inheritance of his grandfathers perceived right to total sexual access to [female] sl aves. By presenting Mario and his grandfathers rape of young girls as perceived rights, the narrative roots their actions in the patriarchal and racist ideologies and actions of colonizers and slave owners. Indeed, the novel shows how the historically oppressive social codes of the plantation, as the narrator says, prevaildespite the presence of na tional and international human rights laws that criminalize the behavior of higher-level sugar cane employees, and thus, prevent free sugarcane workers from
142 experiencing their now positive a nd natural rights to security of person that conquistadors, colonizers, and overseers have been denying s ugarcane workers for decades (81; Art. 3).12 Initially, it seems as if Azcars rape generates enough shock and outrage among the sugarcane cutters to make possible some sort of organized revolutio nary action. Marios treatment of Azcar definitely shocks the cane cutte rs out of their daily r outines, the regimented patterns and requirements of the Islands plantation ag riculture that had reigned supreme for centuries, and revives a collective consciousne ss of the cane cutterss current and past oppression on Esperanza Dulce (13). Azcars grandmother, Doa Fela, feels the strain of her many years of slave-like confinement to the s ugarcane fields when she embraces her bloodied granddaughter after the rape (22). Doa Felas anger also revita lizes her, causing her to feel her own hot blood running rapidly through the ca nals of her old tired body like a network of veins transporting renewed life to the depths of he r being. Azcars rape repeatedly generates a similar two-pronged response in th e other cane cutterseven as the cane cutters overlook mens similar treatment of the prosti tutes living and working in the batey .13 Thus, the frequency and degree of the cane cutterss response to Azcars rape hinge on her purity and the cane cutterss appreciation of morality. As Don Anselmo passiona tely tells a crowd of listeners, the filthy bush hogs rob us of our loveliest of gifts of a llthe only pure symbol of our collective worth 12 Article three of the Universal Declaration of human rights reads as follows: Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person. Ir onically, when human rights groups like Americas Watch present the human and labor rights abuses of cane cutters on Dominican sugar plantations to the Dominican government as exigencies for improving the living and working conditions of sugarcane workers, government officials often side-step dealing with the actual abuses by referring to the laws that prevent such abuses (Camejo 27). 13 Batey is defined as follows in the pages preceding chapter: a word of pre-Columbian Amerindian (Tano) origin that referred to the area in the indigenous settlement used alternately as a ceremonial ball-court and open market space. In the Spanish-speaking Caribbean the word came to mean the area of a large sugarcane plantation occupied by living accommodations for workers, grocery stores or bodegas, as well as the sugar factory operations and related buildings. Today. the batey is now widely synonymous with the squalid, often substandard liv ing quarters of the contract sugarcane workers regularly recruited from around the Caribbean (sic).
143 here in this perpetual cesspool of life as we been knowin it on these murderous plantations (69). The cane cutterss collective anger and growing realization of higher-ranking sugarcane officialss repeated criminal depreciation of their most valued memberss esteemed qualities enables the cane cutters to diagnos e and begin to amend the sexual social laws that perpetuate violence against female can e cutters like Azcar. The cane cutters attempt to maintain the se xual social law for ideal Dominican females by revising the sexual social law for males. Cab ezas summarizes the two crucial constants of the sexual social law in the Dominican Republic: the repression of female se xuality and the creation of an insatiable sexual appetite in men (110). Within this ideological construct of marianismo and machismo, a womans virginit y is said to be the most impor tant carrier of her valueeven as men are expected to master womens se xuality. Don Anselmo and otherss outrage over Azcars rape exemplifies how they value female cane cutterss virginity, and therefore, despise Marios and other higher-ranking sugarcane empl oyeess insatiable appetite for the lower ranking sugar plantation workers. Azcars grandmothers respected status as the cane cutterss saintly mother only compounds the collective outrage at Mario and his kind (15). The cane cutters rename sexually assertive men like Mario evil swine, monsters, and filthy bush hogs in response to a history of violence agains t female cane cutters (25, 41, 69). In addition, the cane cutters venerate male cane cutters like Estim, a Haitian who remains faithful to his wife and even dies protecting he r and his children from Mario Montalvo. The poorly paid cane cutters begin to erode the doubl e-standards undergirding the conve ntions of marianismo and machismo, devaluing mens sexual conquests and revalue mens nurturing of women: the cane cutters cultivate a more equitable culture by revising maless idealized gender roles.
144 In other words, the poorly paid cane cutters overcome far-reaching differences in order to protect and support one another, a nd therefore, emerge as a powe rful model for change within the Dominican Republic. On Esperanza Dulce, they cultivate a heightened sense of familial warmth, interdependence, and collectivity after Az cars rape, in spite of their varied origins. Esperanza Dulces cane cutters emigrated from various Caribbean nations, including the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts; they speak multiple languages, including Spanish, English, pidgin English, St. Lucian patois, Ha itian Kreyl, Domnico-Haitian nag; and they have divergent religious traditions, including Catholic, Protestant, Haitian Vodou, Santera, Regla de Ocha, Obeah, Chang (60). If these individuals from multiple nations who speak different languages and share different religious beliefs can establish a powerful sense of solidarity, then cannot poorer a nd richer Dominicans also work together to stop the oppression endured by poorly paid workers? In Azcar! it actually takes the prot ection of people in the lower and upper echelons of the sugarcane industry for Azcar to be free from the limitati ons and restrictions of the batey (207). On the one hand, three of the most resp ected elder cane cutters perform the sacred and ancient ritual of the Marasa Bwa, Twins of the Forest, both in order to avenge Marios rape and impregnation of Azcar with twins and also to purify Azcar (172). Azcars grandmother, Doa Fela, and their Haitian-born friends, Don Anselmo and Mam Lola, drown and bury Azcars twins, Felicidad and Ca ridad (Happiness and Charity). At the time, Azcar cannot forgive her elders for their acti onseven after her own grandmothe r explains the performance of the Marasa Bwa ritual as her dut y to have the powerful spirits of our ancestors protect Azcar and her children (173). In the Azcar trilogy, the narrator rep eatedly equates any protagonists allegiance to their ancestral spirits and rituals, su ch as Doa Felas allegiance to the Marasa Bwa
145 ritual, with social justice and a ny protagonists unfaithfulness to an cestral spirits and rituals with social injustice. On the other hand, Canadian-educated hum anitarians, such as the Dominican-born Marcelo Montalvo and the Canadi an-born Harold Capps, condemn Azcars elders intervention into the birth and death of Fe licidad and Caridad (175). The transnational, interracial, and homosexual couple interprets the r itual drowning of Azcars firs t-born twin daughters as a sign of the degree of retrograde thinking that provided the very solid and uncompromising foundation for the amalgam of beliefs and practices at Esperanza Dulce Marcelo and Harold fear the ways in which the cane cutterss allegi ance to ancestral spirits, such as Papa Ogou, Danbala Vedo, St. Jake Mej, Ezili Feda ( Azcars Sweet Hope 137), might further threaten Azcars life. Marcelo and Harold primarily invite Azcar to move in with them in order to protect her from enduring any future damage from the spiritual beliefs an d practices circulating among the cane cuttersrather than to protect he r from enduring any future damage from the gendered, sexist, or raci st beliefs and practices of the sugarcane plantations higher-level employees. Although Marcelo and Harolds intenti on initially seems displaced in the sense that the higher-level employees have played a more significant role in oppressing Azcar than her fellow cane cutters, their removal of Azcar from the batey also protects her from the male and female members of the predominantly Hispanic a nd Catholic members of the planter aristocracy, who historically have abused the poorly paid fe male and male Caribbean cane cutters. The cane cutters and the narrators descripti on of the plantar aristocracys treatment of the cane cutters in terms of huma n rights rhetoric and logic clar ifies that both the sugarcane plantations higher-level employees and also the sugar cane industry itself pose a much greater risk to Azcar and the other cane cutters than their fellow workers. A variety of the protagonists,
146 ranging from the elderly Haitian-born cane cutter, Don Anselmo, to the twenty-something Dominican-born son of the Montalvos sugar plantation industry, Marc elo, use human rights rhetoric and logic to discuss th e poor living and working conditions of sugarcane cutters in the Dominican Republic. Don Anselmo rants about th e Montalvo mens random liberties, abuses of authority, inhuman cruelty after Azcars rape in Azcar! and throughout the novels sequel, Azcars Sweet Hope. (51). The youngest male Montal vo, Marcelo, similarly describes the sugar industry as a system that denies all human dignity all human rights to human beings whom it has subdued by violence (198). In Azcar! and Azcars Sweet Hope. the narrator primarily uses human rights rhetoric to discuss Afro-Haitian migrant workerss living and working conditions in Dominican sugarcane planta tions, as do most national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations reporting on cane cutters in the Dominican Republic Organizations, individuals, and narratives tend to focus on Haitianss experience of human rights abuses in the Dominican sugarcane industry for obvious reasons: documented and undocumented Haitians living in the Dominican Repub lic have a long history of mistreatment by Hispanic Dominicans, a historical fact that the narrator alludes to in Azcar! and more fully develops in Azcars Sweet Hope. ;14 Haitians constitute the largest numbers of cane cutters in Dominican sugar plantations, another f act that the narrator mentions in Azcars Sweet Hope. (Wilhelms 56; Camejo 1); Haitians historically ha ve held the worst positions in Dominican sugar plantations (Wilhelms 110); Haitia ns gradually have become the representative face of cane cutters in the Dominican Republic during the twen tieth century, a fact which becomes especially important in the beginning of the Az car trilogys middle novel (23). 14 General Rafael Trujillo and the Dominican stat e massacred thousands of Haitians in 1937. Haitians working in sugar plantations were spared, however; foreigners did not want to lose their cheap labor (Krohn-Hansen 53).
147 The narrator primarily uses modern hum an rights rhetoric to flesh out the unconscionable plight of female Haitian labore rs on sugarcane plantations in the Dominican Republic ( Azcar! 79).15 For instance, the narrator states th at female Haitian laborers tend to neither receive official documentation of any kind nor any other types of benefits, and therefore, they are non-person[ s], condemned to a circumstance of illegality (79). In addition, the narrator emphasizes that the Haitia n female laborers lack equal pay, medical benefits, and housing. Since Haitian female laborers lack these rights, they are also cast to the whims of random assault from every possible angle. In other words, th e narrator reports the violation of Haitian female cane cutterss civil an d political rights, economic, social, and cultural rights, and right to a protective framework fo r realizing these rights even though these three clusters of human rights signed by the Domini can Republic in 1948 are never mentioned as such (United Nations, Universal Declaration). The cane cutterss illegality, for instance, blatantly violates the women Haitian migrants s civil and political right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law,16 and their living and working conditions violate their economic, social, and cultural rights to both equal pay for equal work and also a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family.17 In addition, the 15 The General Assembly of the United Nations adopt ed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. 16 Article six states: Everyone has the right to r ecognition everywhere as a person before the law (Universal Declaration). 17 Articles 23.1 and 25.1 respectively state: Every one has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protecti on against unemployment; Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequa te for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medi cal care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control (Universal Declaration).
148 extensive violation of the cane cu tterss rights signals that the fe male Haitian cane cutters are not receiving adequate protection from the Domini can government or other governing bodies (80).18 In effect, Haitian female cane cutters emerge as the most at-risk group of cane cutters who experience the most pressing forms of oppressi on from government and corporate employees even though Harold and Marcelo focus on the ca ne cutterss treatment of Azcar and her children, and the bulk of the novel focuses on Az cars rather than Haitianss oppressive experiences on Esperanza Dulce But the similar representation of other past and present cane cutterss living and working conditio ns extends the deplorable viola tions of female Haitian cane cutterss rights to all past and present sugarcane cutters in the Dominican Republic Human rights rhetoric actually encourag es such sweeping analyses of the cane cutterss conditions. As Berta Hernndez-Truyol explains, the United Nati ons Charter of 1945 embraces the natural law notion of these as rights to which all human be ings have been entitled since time immemorial and to which they will continue to be entitled as long as humanity survives (14). Even though national and international human rights documents e xpress centuries of cane cutterss entitlement to modern human rights and freedoms, the thirte en year old Azcar and her fellow cane cutters have not yet begun to experience their natur al modern human righ ts and freedoms. In Azcar!, it is ultimately only a combination of discursive and economic support that improves the cane cutterss living and working conditions, as exemplified by Harolds and Marcelos support of Azcar. Harold and Mar celo not only explain th e death of Azcars children as a human rights violation but also pool their own resources to reduce the violation of Azcars rightsrather than working towards improving the economic and cultural order that 18 Articles five and 28 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights respectively state: No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific advancement and its benefits.
149 compels the cane cutters to act so violently. Th e couple invites Azcar into their home as their housekeeper, a position traditionally held by worki ng class darker-skinned girls in the Caribbean (Ellis 92). Cynthia Enloe notes that female domestic workers of color from less privileged communities are especially dependent on the sens itivity and fairness of their employers, and thus, are more susceptible to loneliness, ec onomic exploitation, sexual harassment by men in the household (18). Fortunately for Azcar, then, neither Harold nor Marcelo follow the Dominican ideals of marianismo and machismo; their homosexual partnership, which results in their immediately experienci ng the hurtful scorn and scanda l of other Dominicans ( Azcar s Sweet Hope. 50), further ensures their benevolent treatment of Azcar. Harold and Marcelo treat Azcar as their pupil, not a sexual object; they provide her with an education traditionally reserved for affluent lighter-skinned Caribbean males (Enloe 18). After learning the basics of r eading, writing, and arithmetic fr om Marcelos almost around-theclock academic remediation and tutoring, Azcar garners the breadth of a liberal arts education, with lessons ranging from science and mathema tics to history, literatur e, and speech (176). Azcars pregnancy uncharacteris tically increases her access to a level of education rarely accessed by working class females ranging from cane cutters to sex workers, a secondary level education that adequately prepares her for a ter tiary level education abroad; pregnancy is one of the key factors responsible for lowering teenage girlss participation and performance in the Caribbean educational system (Ellis 94). Judging from Azcars living and working conditions on the batey, she would not have been able to move beyond a primary education level if her elders had not killed her childre n, and Harold and Marcelo had not assisted with her education in the Dominican Republic, and later, in Canada.
150 Azcars education at Harolds and Marcelos home frees her from Esperanza Dulces subhuman living and working conditions, but it also swiftly and problematically disconnects her from both her own past in Esperanza Dulce and also her grandmother and friendss continuing oppression in the batey (78). In the narrators words, Azcar may well have been on the other side of the globeso far removed wa s she from her former circumstances (176). Azcar returns to the batey only after Marcelo and Harold urge her to at least maintain ties with her grandmother, one of the cane cutterss most respected matriarchs. Azcars material and linguistic markers of socioeconomic advancem ent, such as her ne wly acquired outfit and grammatically standard speech, make those i ndividuals who dearly loved and cared about Azcar [display] a very unique sense of pride, orgullo, that one of their own had managed to leave the batey (184). As Gary R. Butler notes, La nguage variety has long been a marker of relative social identity and status in hierarchal societies, and the case is no different in the Caribbean (20). Azcars pe rceptible movement beyond the batey empowers her fellow cane cutters to consider the possibility of also es caping, a significant deve lopment considering the degree to which Azcar and her fellow cane cu tters, such as her childhood Haitian friend, Toms, significantly describe the batey in the extreme terms of imprisonment and escape. According to an Americas Watch report, Haitian cane cutters similarly re ported that they felt they were unable to leave their bateys because they had attempted to leave and were stopped by soldiers en route, or because they feared physic al harm by [. .] employees who oversaw their work (Camejo 14). In additi on, cane cutters reported that their belongingsoften nothing more valuable than a change of clotheshad be en taken away from them as a way of forcing them to stay in their assigned bateys (17). With the following de tail, the narrator communicates the degree to which Azcar and her fellow can e cutters similarly fe lt psychologically and
151 physically imprisoned within the batey ; the iron entrance gate to Esperanza Dulce is usually padlocked at night ( Azcar! 71). In Azcar, then, Azcar and her fellow cane cutters justifiably think of the batey in strict inside/outside terms, with the goal of moving oneself outside and beyond the batey Azcar further disidentifies herself from her former poorly paid coworkers on the batey after she accepts Harold and Marc elos invitation to immigrate to Canada. Azcar interprets her Canadian immigration as the birth of an entir ely new dimension of life, primarily thinking on a personal scale (201). As Azcar flies over Esperanza Dulce on her first plane flight, she literally and symbolically sees the plantation as those ho lding higher positions in the sugar industry; she loses sight of the individual cane cutters who act ually work the acres and acres of sugarcane (218). Arriving and living in Toronto, which the narrator contextualizes in economic and geopolitical terms as the third la rgest financial sector in North America, with two affluent men generates an even more heightened sense of fr eedom from limitations a nd restrictions of the batey, of Esperanza Dulce. Ultimately of the Island itself! (207). Harold and Marcelo continue to invest in Azcars future in Canada, enrolling her in the Facult y of Arts and Sciences at Victoria College. Azcars academic advisor encourages her to pursue a career in the tourist industry, because her career options in the fled ging tourist industry would be limitless (232). With her mentors and advisors approval, Azcar pursues a career in the tourism industry, only maintaining a tenuous spiritual connection to her grandmother and ancestral spirits while attending college in Canada. Azcar s geographical distance from the batey correlates with her psychological detachment from her economic, filial, folk, historical and even spiritual roots in the Dominican Republic.
152 Azcars psychological detachment from the is land and its inhabitants enables her to work for one of Canadas most influential multinational corporations, the same corporation that owns Esperanza Dulce and dominates the Dominican sugarcane industry (228). Azcar originally works with the Canadian-based multinational corporation GlobeNet Ltd. as an intern in order to determine the prof itability of tourism for corporat e investment in the Caribbean (249). Historically, Canadians ha ve played a significant role in the expansion of the tourism industry in the Dominican Repub lic. The Dominican Republics Secretario de Estado de Turismo Lic., Felucho Jimnez, reports that the Dominican Republics first tourism-related charter flights were developed in the mid-1970s to transport tourists between Canada and Dominican hotels (29).19 Since the 1980s, Canadians have constituted the third largest group of the Dominican Republic tourists, only surpasse d by Americans and Germans (29). By the mid1990s, Canadians constituted the third largest gr oup of foreign hotel owners, only surpassed by German and Spanish investors (40). During this same period in the late twentieth century, foreign investment in the Dominican Republics private sector constitu ted approximately sixtyone percent of the tota l private sector (41).20 As a young intern, Azcar only superficially questions the ways in which the Canadianbased multinational corporation GlobeNet already has and most likely could jeopardize the multinational corporations employees in the Do minican Republic and the Dominican Republics national economy. While living in Canada, Azcar regards he r prestigious GlobeNet internship as a sign of her grandmothers approving presen ce in her life and a valuable gift from her loas (249), which according to George Brandon, inc lude among their number Catholic saints, 19 By 1996, Canadians own 4.3% of the hotels in the Dominican Republic, which is only surpassed by Germanys 4.8 % and Spains 9.3% (Jimnez 40). 20 For further reading, see Tom Barry, Be th Wood, and Deb Preusch.
153 Catholic saints syncretized with African dei ties and non-Catholic deit ies such as native Americans, plus the spirits of the dead (214). Azcar regards tourism as a possible future benefit or, at worst, a necessary evil, and ther efore, plays a significant role in shifting the Dominican Republics industry from sugar towards tourism: Under her aggressive marketing strategies, overall exchange earnings from the Islands tourism revenues grew steadily from about $220 million in one year to over $800 million in just a three-year period, w ith net corporate earnings of mo re than half that amount. By the end of a five-year period, because of t ourisms dazzling success and sugars miserable decline, net foreign exchange earnings from tourism easily surpassed those from any remaining sugar exports. (286) These economic developments ground Azcars story in the 1960s through the 1980seven though the narrator never lists Azca rs birth date or a twentieth cen tury date in the trilogys first novel (29). Foreign exchange from tourism first exceeds sugar exports in the Dominican Republic in 1984 (Jimnez 36), when high fructose corn syrup claims 75% of the international sweetener market with Coke and Pepsis switch fr om sugar to corn syrup (Lockard 83). Whereas Azcar primarily focuses on increasing tourism revenues while managing GlobeNets Dominican tourism ventures from Montreal, he r elder, Don Anselmo, primarily focuses on the ways in which the nations transition from sugar towards tourism might affect cane cutterss living and working conditions. Don Anselmo initially interprets the decline of the Dominica n Republics sugar exports as the wrathful deity Mayants means of restoring justice to cane cutters; however, his attitude changes after he persona lly sees the ways in which the to urism industry comparably exploits those living and working within the Dominican Republics socio economic base. Don Anselmos unawareness of the way in which other macr oeconomic factors have contributed to the Dominican Republics shift towards a touris m economy, such as the World Bank, United Nations, and Organization of American States in volvement in the development of the Dominican
154 Republics economic base with tourism in the early 1960s (Cabezas 95), the United States, United Nations, World Bank, and Organization of American States subsidization of the Dominican tourist economy in the late 1960s (96) the United Statess reduction of their sugar quota from the Dominican Republic by more than $350 million dollars during the 1980s (Brennan 168), and Coke and Pepsis switch to hi gh fructose corn syrup in 1984 (Lockard 67). After the tourism industry expands in the Domi nican Republic, Don Anselmo quickly realizes how wrong he was about his subvers ive interpretation of the decline of Domi nican sugar exports and states, Restructurin the w hole goddamn society is the true so lution, not juss reformin it (284). Don Anselmo supports restructuring Dominican society over reforming Dominican society through tourism, because he sees the degree to which the bateyes are transformed into a different form of the same oppressive multinational system: the bateyes become the residences for cheap migrant laborers who work under North Am erican white males at all-inclusive resorts and other tourism-re lated attractions.21 The recurring image of nameless, faceless, workers standing in line and under the supervision of white foreign men extends the chain of human rights a buses linking the sugar industry back to slavery forward to the developi ng tourism industry. In each of these institutions people are treated as cargo when they are tran sported to work, where they are herded or corralled and caged like animals or property (1 3, 71). The treatment of sugarcane workers in 21 Sosa serves as an exemplary symbolic example of the transition from the sugar industry to the tourism industry. Sosa is in Puerta Plata, one of the first zones where the government funded developments for tourism in the 1970s (Jimnez 123). Soon Puerta Plata had the highest concentration of hotels in all zones of the Dominican Republic (41). So sa itself is now basically divided into two parts: El Batey and Los Charomicos. El Batey is the touris t side of town, and it has been developed with allinclusive hotels, banks, and infrastructural developmen ts for decades. In contrast, Los Charomicos, the native side of town, frequently experiences power outag es and does not have potable water. Sosa serves as an actual example for how the turn towards tourism sustains the uneven power relations of slavery and sugarcane plantations.
155 the twentieth century and slaves in the nineteenth century is so similar that a picture of the former could be interpreted as a picture of the latter: Armed guards mounted on horseback accompanied this rag-tag multitude. Some of the weaponry was unmistakably of the semi-autom atic variety. and very menacing. The scene looked like a bizarre daguerreotype that had been made in the last century, showing African captives shackled together, fresh from the slave auction, being marched into the plantation compound by their triump hant new owners. (72) This image barely changes when the sugar industry tu rns towards the tourism industry. In fact, the arrival and dispersion of a new load of migrant workers throughout a mammoth tourist complex generates an illusive feeling of dj vu in Don Anselmo (288) After the migration and entrance into sl avery, the sugar industry, or th e tourism industry, workers are treated as cheap, and therefore, expendable animal s, machines, or fuel in order to assure an efficiently running and main tained operation (289). Azcar! concludes with Don Anselmo angrily responding to the arrival of new tourism workers at the all-inclusive Caaveral Resort, formerly known as Esperanza Dulce because the bastards wont even call out the names of those poor soulss theyre just numbers on a fuckin clipboard. Oh, mi Azcar, mhita morenita, if you only realized what you done! Maldita caa!. (290). In other words, the poorly paid tourism employees basically experience the same kinds of oppression at th e end of the novel that they experience at the beginning of the novel as poorly paid sugarcane em ployees and that their ancestors had endured during era of plantation slavery. Azcars Sweet Hope. (2004) In Azcars Sweet Hope. ., Cambeira convincingly affirms Don Anselmos criticism of Azcars involvement in GlobeNe ts expansion of the Dominican tourism industry. In the ten years that have passed since the conclusion of Azcar! ,22 Azcar has worked with other 22 Azcar marries the Dominican-born, Canadian -educated Lucien in the conclusion of Azcar!, and they celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary in Azcars Sweet Hope. (66).
156 Caribbean-born professionals, who had also achieved their posts econdary education in Canada, for the Canadian-based multinational corporatio n GlobeNet. As GlobeNets senior regional director of tourism, Azcar played the most important role in converting Esperanza Dulce into Caaveral Beach Club and Resort, which includes a forty-five acre Flower Forest that has become one of the most popular tourist sites on the carefully planned si ghtseeing excursions on the island (7, 27). Azcars conversion of farm land into a tourist resort exemplifies the industrial developments taking pl ace elsewhere in the islands eas tern zone: acres and acres of productive sugarcane fields[ have been converted] into a vast pleasure playground for foreign tourists, not the undocumented and documented workers who historically have cultivated and maintained the land (460). The Dominican gove rnment has been facilitating Azcars expansion of the tourism industry on the island through the construction of a newly enlarged, renovated [airport] terminal for affluent tourists from the Caribbean, North America, Europe, and Asia, rather than increasing pub lic spending for health care, education and housing (48, 55, 134). The resorts name, location in the islands eastern zone, and proximity to newly constructed airports evoke the city of Caaveral, which is located in the Dominican Republics southeastern provin ce of Peravia near a cluster of airports, including Herrera International Airport, San Isidro Airport, Las Americas International Airport, Casa de Campo International Airport, and Mari a Montez Internat ional Airport.23 Although Azcar has succeeded at improving her own socioeconomic status and Esperanza Dulces appearance through working as GlobeNets senior regional director of tourism, she has failed at significantly improving poorly paid workerss experience of human rights within the Dominican Republic. Azcar and her Caribbean-born, Canadian-educat ed colleagues have misplaced their hope in 23 El Caaveral also appears as Caaveral and Ca naveral (El Canaveral, Dominican Republic Page.).
157 GlobeNets ability to improve Dominican societ y through displacing extractive agriculture with tourism. Meanwhile, Azcars former coworkers on Esperanza Dulce who have only migrated within the Caribbean, have organized to rectify the human rights violation concealed by the Flower Forests cultivated appearance as a Car ibbean Eden (7, 27). Former cane cutters with Haitian cultural ties and Cuban po litical ties organize against the Montalvo family, which had monopolized the Dominican sugarcane industry, th e Canadian-based multinational corporation GlobeNet, which hopes to monopolize the Domi nican tourism industry, and the Dominican government, which had privileged the affluent members of the islands sugar and tourism industries. The organizerss affiliations and re volutionary aims evoke what C.L.R. James has referred to in The Black Jacobins; Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938) as two of the most important rebellions in Caribbean history: Toussaint-LOuvertures pursuit of national independence in Haiti, and Fi del Castros communist revolution in Cuba (Preface to the Vintage Edition ix). In Azcars Sweet Hope ., as was also the case in Azcar! and eighteenth century French colonial Haiti, radical change begins with those who share economic ties to Hispaniolas sugarcane industry, racial ties to Africa, national ties to Haiti, and spiritual ties to Haitian peasant worship, commonly referred to as voodoo, a word of Dahomeyan origin meaning spirit or god (Mtraux 59, 82). Don Anselmo, Toussaint Roumain, and Jrme Valcin have worked as cane cutters on Esperanza Dulce and organized to rectify the Mont alvo familys violation of one of the documented and undocumented workerss most basic human rights: life. On Esperanza Dulce, Mario Montalvo murdered Toussaints Haitia n-born father, Estme, and Miguel and Manolo Montalvo murdered the Haitian-born Jr mes older brother, Csaire, and their
158 Panamanian friend, Ramn (14). Since the local police never prosecuted any of the Montalvo men for these or any other violations of worker ss natural and legal rights, Jrme, Toussaint, and Don Anselmo plan to murder and deface th e surviving murderers, Miguel and Manolo, with their wives, who are apparently guilty through th eir marital association to Miguel and Manolo, in order to prevent a proper bur ial for [those] who had done so much evil in life by trapping the individuals spirit in a suspended state of eter nal suffering (12). In Azcar! Mario also had been murdered in this ritualistic fashion. Since Azcar! the Haitian-born Jrme uses his insider knowledge as a housekeeper on Manolo and Sofias estate to murder and deface them both in their bed. Three years later, Jrme uses his insider knowledge as a groundskeeper on Caaveral Beach Club and Resort to murder and deface Migue l and Gabriela in the Flower Forest, before using Toussaints connections as a chef at Caa veral Beach Club and Resort to flee Hispaniola on a Cuban-bound cruise ship. After Jrme perform s what the narrator describes as the same ancient ritual for the last time on Miguel and Gabrie l, he states a traditio nal Kryol phrase that was circulated on the batey : Bay kou bliye, pot mak sonje meaning those who give out the blows forget, while those who bear the scars remember (13). The murderss roots in traditional Haitian peasant rituals, which the ethnographer Alfr ed Mtraux notes have never been proven in connection with Haitian peasant worship (592) legitimize the former cane cutterss reaction to the affluent, Hispanic, orthodox Catholic Montalvo familys human rights violations on Esperanza Dulce The murders also ensure the end of the Montalvoss patrilineal family line and jeopardize GlobeNet: Marcelo, the la st surviving son of Diego Mont alvo, does not intend to raise a child with his life partner, Harold; the Flow er Forest murders endanger GlobeNets Pleasure Trust expansion project through tarnishing the resorts edenic image (7, 9, 27).
159 In the sequel radical change also gains traction thr ough the leadership of those who have traveled beyond the Dominican Republic. Whereas the Canadian-born and educated Harold used human rights rhetoric and logic to advocate for reforming Canadian-based multinational corporations and Dominican society accord ing to humanitarian principles in Azcar! the Haitian-born and Cuban-educated Toms Polanco, Jr. uses Marxist rhetoric and logic in Azcars Sweet Hope to advocate for drastically restructuring Dominican industry and society. Toms, who had worked with Azcar as a cane cutter, immigrated to communist Cuba shortly after Harold and Marcelo removed Azcar from Esperanza Dulce and sponsored her Canadian migration and education. Azcars departure from the batey originally had inspired him to chase a dream and not to stop until he caught it; to attempt to achieve something. (160). The Montalvo familys vocal and potentially violent disapproval of Tomss marriage to Ccile, a descendant of the primarily a ffluent, Hispanic, Catholic, Dominican Montalvo family, also forced Toms, Ccile, and their unborn child into exile in communist Cuba where for the first time there was a state-sanctioned promotion and celebration of a commun itys African roots (62). In Cuba, Toms and his new wifes co llective communist dream s notably split from Azcars individual capitalist dreams. Toms wo rked as Cubas Party Director of State Communication and became a naturalized C uban citizen with his wife Ccile. Toms and Cciles marriage and family unite the class, racial, religious, and national affiliations that traditionally have separated Haitians and Dominicans on Hispaniola, just as the Massacre River historically has separated Haiti fro m the Dominican Republic (Wucker 27, 251): Rasul and Jasmina, their two beautiful childr en of visibly mixed ethnicitychildren, who, along with many, many more, would come to sy mbolize that future of crossed boundaries and borders truly character istic of the Caribbean. The ch ildren of Ccile and Toms would symbolize the transgressive identity of hybridization. They would represent the realistic new definition of the Caribbean self. (102)
160 Toms and Ccile, whom the narrator describes as revolutionary theorists, return to the Dominican Republic with the intention of drastic ally restructuring Dominican society for the poorly paid workers who historically have been exploited by multinational corporations and the Dominican government (98). Shortly after retu rning to the Dominican Republic from Cuba, Ccile specifically mentions Bolivias Che Gu evara, Nicaraguas Sandanistas, Guatemalas guerrilla resistance, and Mexicos Zapatistas as beautiful models for organizing local workers against an excessive and abusive capitalism that I see in place here on the island (98). In the novel, Toms and Cciles collec tive, revolutionary dreams for th e local poorly paid workers clearly supersede Azcar and Luciens corpor ate, modernizationist dreams for GlobeNets affluent, predominantly foreign, investors. Toms and Cciles ensuing large-scale organization of workers on the Dominican Republic with the Afro-Haitian Toussaint Roumai ns younger brother, Silvio, effectively builds on Fidel Castros communist revolution and T oussaint-LOuvertures pursuit of Haitian independence from French colonialists. Toms and Ccile join forces with Silvio after returning to the Dominican Republic, because Silvio deeply values workerss solidarity and also oversees construction at Caaverals Beach Club and Reso rts. Silvio also traces the impetus and significance of workerss unity back to a Haitian tradition circulated on the batey which he frequently heard from his Haitian-born father, Estim: se non ki pou mt lod lan sa It means basically that we re the ones who will straighten things out. My father used to always say this to us; I never forgot that. Well, you see, the workers. .were all one single family. We a ll need to work together. in unison, with one person depending on the other. (83) Silvios brother and former coworkers on the batey had applied this lesson when they murdered Mario Montalvos twin da ughters with Azcar in Azcar! and the married Montalvo couples in Azcars Sweet Hope. Toms uses his political experi ence in communist Cuba to build on
161 Silvio and the workerss sense of solidarity, proposing that th ey unionize the workers to end unfair treatment and dangerous working cond itions (84). Tomss suggestion strikes a chord with both of the men who had escaped the batey : the two panas were now, all these years later, just as anxious to re-conne ct precisely because they had b een freed. They accordingly and effectively work together to organize the work ers for the National Day of Protest, despite the governments attempts to repress their actions. The workerss organization and the seque ls narrative culminate on the Dominican Republics National Day of Protest, which hist orically takes place in mid to late June (Dominican Republic). The narrator notes that the strike organizers, who represented the islands entire labor fo rce, guaranteed that this collectiv e action would be the most convulsive and daring protest ever against a modern-day pr esident (129). In addition to collectively striking for twenty-four hours, the stri kers also made clear demands: an immediate price reduction in the basic necessities; lower ga soline prices; an end to the constant power outages or apagones, increase d public spending for he alth care, education and housing; an immediate change in the pres idents ruinous economic policies; an end to all foreign debt payments and IMF [Intern ational Monetary F und] agreements; an immediate end to police repr ession and the right of wo rkers to unionize. (134) These demands, expressed by the transport guild l eader, specifically respond to the effects of falling sugar prices in the 1980s (Wucker 110 ). In 1983, the Dominican government asked the IMF for more that $450 million dollars in or der to pay foreign bills (Wucker 111), resulting in protests against the IMF and food riots in 1984 (Espinal 67, 71). By 1989, the Dominican president had raised gasoline pr ices by 100 percent (68). In Azcars Sweet Hope. the workerss unionization, protest, and demands function as a prag matic road map for significant economic and political change in the Dominican Republic. In addition, Cambeiras glossing over of the historical threats to workerss un ionization, such as the fragmentation of labor confederations according to politic al parties in the early 1980s (Esp inal 70), as well as distinct
162 constituencies among the workers, according to professional associations organized labor, and nonlabor popular groups in the late 1980s (72), bolsters the nove ls representation of working class solidarity and organization as an effectiv e means to restructure Dominican society. The highest-ranking GlobeNet and government officialss response to the workers on the National Day of Protest even cau ses Azcar to question her, GlobeNet, and the governments role in expanding the tourism industry. Whereas GlobeNet aimed at shielding the unrest from tourists through the op ulence of their [all-inclusive reso rtss] exclusive surroundings, the government used different means to achieve sim ilar ends, making mass arrests, accusations, and threats of deportation in order to obscure the appearance of danger or inconvenience from current and potential touris ts (130, 136). The corporation and governments extreme disregard for the protestors causes Azcar to re turn to her mother-in-law Mam Lolas altar room, replete with wooden statues of Papa Ogou, Danbala Vedo, St. Jake Mej, and Ezili Feda. In the presence of the loas Az car sees the expanding tourism industry and the protestorss organization in a significantly different light: sh e suddenly begin[s] to s ee tourism as a rather capricious benefactor and also recognizes the degree to which the workers collective strike fostered a perception of the peopl es collective invincibility and reaffirmed all notions of basic humanitarian principles (137). As the narrator observes, And most ironically, Azcars own vision for tourism in large measure had made it all possible (138). Azcars growth of tourism industry unevenly benefited affluent investors and poorly paid workers, and therefore, inspired the tourism workers to organize a nd strike against GlobeNet and the Dominican governments projects. In Azcars Sweet Hope. Cambeira refutes Azcar and her Canadian-educated colleaguess hope that the Canadian-based mu ltinational corporations investment in the
163 Dominican tourism industry would dramatically improve Dominican society: he humanizes and diversifies the process, encouraging those born within and beyond the Dominican Republic to unite and restructure Dominican society for the humane treatment of all people, regardless of class, race, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation. In Marcelo s words, Each one of us must become involved. Its not just up to the govern ments to try to make a better world; its all of us working together that is the re al hope for a better life (170). Toms also adds the importance of an overarching vision or dream for social change in the Dominican Republic: Intention is not just about will : Its also about our overall everyday vision, what we dream about, what we believe is possible for us and for other pe ople as well (170). Both the humanitarian, Hispanic, Marcelo, who only returned to the Dominican Republic from Canada for Azcars ten year wedding anniversary, and the revolutionary, Haitian, Toms, who primarily returned to the Dominican Republic from his forced exile in Cuba to unionize workers, strongly favor the Dominican Republics independence from global capitalism (166). Thus far in the Azcar trilogy, Cambeira represents the Dominican Republic s break from global capitalism as the best means to break the cycle of violence that has be en repeating through the increasingly modern yet comparably exploitative sugar and tourism industries. In addition, Cambeira suggests that the United States will emerge as the largest new external threat to the revolutionary theorists and unionistss restructuri ng of Dominican society in the Azcar trilogys not yet published conc luding novel. Towards the sequels conclusion, Marcelo and Harold specifically criticize the United States poli ces abuse of anti-Free Trade of the Americas protestors in Miami (166). Acco rding to Global Exchange, The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is an attempt to expand the failed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to every country in Centra l America, South America and the Caribbean,
164 except Cuba (Free Trade of the Americas). Cubas exclusion from the proposed FTAA, which was not signed as planne d in January 2005, nearly a ye ar after Cambeira published Azcars Sweet Hope. exemplifies why Cuba emerges as one of the idealized revolutionary nations in Azcars Sweet Hope. (Free Trade of the Americas). The narrator also criticizes the United States governments decision to grant the Dominican president exile status after union pressure forced him to step down, and he was convicted of fraud and embezzlement involving one of the islands larg est private banks (183). Most im portantly, considering the fact the sequel concludes with the phrase, Maldita mquina de coser. Those damned sewing machines!, United States-owned corporations have started exploiting workers in free trade zones (186). In the endnotes, the narrator defi nes the Dominican Republics free trade zones as a particularly American space, a duty-free area where American-owned apparel makers (companies like GAP, Polo, Levi Strauss, Anne Klein, Donna Karen, Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, P. Ditty Combs, among others) assemble clothing for export, using cheap local labormainly women (187). In the Azcar trilogys second no vel, Cambeira gradually shifts the focus from Canadian academic institutions and multinationa l corporationss indoctrination of Dominican exiles for the economic interests of Canadian-bas ed multinational corpora tions to the American governments suppression of anti-capitalist organizations and American multinational corporationss expl oitation of Dominican workers within the Dominican Republic. Conclusion The human rights rhetoric and logic pervadi ng the Azcar trilogy enab le the narration of a systemic chain of oppression across the de clining sugar industr y, the expanding tourism industry, and the budding sewing industry through the body and actions of Azcar. Narrating the bitter-sweet story of sugar al ongside the development of a poor female embedded within an international framework of human rights emphasi zes the material and symbolic elements of
165 sugar, tourism, and free trade zones, especially the ways in these increas ingly modern industrial developments unevenly exploit female workers. If Azcar momentarily serves as the cane cutterss model and inspiration for pursuing a better life abroad in Azcar! then Toms serves as poorly paid workerss model and inspiration fo r creating a bette r life beyond and within the Dominican Republic in Azcars Sweet Hope . In the trilogys concluding novel, they will likely join forces with other returning exiles to engender significant political and economic change in the Dominican Republic. The published Azcar trilogy novels alrea dy facilitate the pro cess of moving beyond exploitative economic institutions by representing drastic structural change as a real possibility that requires a collective redi stribution of power within, be tween, and beyond nations, as exemplified by Canadian-based multinational cor porations expansion of the Dominican tourism industry and the American-based multinational expa nsion of the Dominican free trade zones. Cambeiras incorporation of ke y historical events and economic developments increases the tangibility and believability of the novelss formulations for restructuring society. The integration of the United States into Azcars Sweet Hope. significantly increases the believability of massive stru ctural change on a national a nd global level; breaking out of centuries of economic and political oppression se ems much more realisti c when the oppression is understood in relation to both of the North Amer ican nations, Canada and the United States, which historically have played a significant role in the islands economic and political development. Cambeiras method of telling the bitter-sweet story of sugar vis--vis Azcar, human rights rhetoric, neocoloni al American history, and revol utionary Caribbean history powerfully presents the restructuring of Domini can society, other Caribbean nations, and global relations as an attainable developmenteven clarifying the particular economic and political
166 changes needed to extend human rights to every one living and working in the Caribbean. Of all of the literature examined thus far, Cambeiras Az car trilogy most consis tently and persuasively represents and rejects the Amer ican dream of individual economic success as a myth that harms Caribbean immigrants, workers, and nations.
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179 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Alison Van Nyhuis received her M.A. (2003) and Ph.D. (2007) in English from the University of Florida. Her research and teachi ng focus on American studies, Caribbean studies, and postcolonial theory.