Analysis of Kumau Brathwaite's "Dream Haiti"

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The short story is a literary genre of fictional, prose narrative that tends to be more concise than longer works of fiction such as novellas and novels. Short stories have their origins in oral story-telling traditions and the prose anecdote that comes rapidly to its point. Within Caribbean literature, contemporary writers are attracted to this form. According to Jeremy Poynting this is perhaps due to “an urge to tell stories that remain closer to an oral tradition of storytelling than is the case in Western cultures,” (2) since the writer is more capable to bring out his voice “in the short story than in more extended works of fiction” (2) One such author is Barbados born, L. Edward Kamau Brathwaite. Throughout his adult life he has…show more content…
For nearly four centuries, sugar production was the primary source of income to all of the Caribbean states and up until the eighteenth century made Haiti (Saint Domingue) the wealthiest Caribbean island. The character of Margaret Azuchar comes “to a firm, political decision pretty soon after that-about commanding heights of the economy and level playing fields and light at the end of the tunnel.” (106) One could therefore surmise that the character embodies all the rulings of the colonial power in the façade of an Afro-Caribbean muse. The façade is also suggested through the use of light/dark imagery where the “light at the end of the tunnel” blinds the collective voice from seeing the absolute truth. Additionally, there is the reference to French historical features such as “Murat” and “Gregoire.”(102) Both these figures were key to Napoleon Bonaparte’s rule; Murat being his brother-in-law and Henri Gregoire being a priest who advocated for equality of the Blacks. In the story the narrator says that the “Sun Bryan” “looked like a smiling triangle made out of tinnin as if he was the work of Murat Gregoire or Marshal.”(102) Once again it seems to be another imagery of false hope as further down he proclaims that it must be “a sheet of soff metal or a life of cardboard.” (102) The mention of the historical figures once again ties in the colonial past of Haiti to the present predicament of the “drowning” Haitians. The sad

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