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The Farming of Bones focuses much on the theme of identity construction. It entails the personification of pleasure and pain, the past and the present and an individual’s reality and dream and who does experience the difficulties of her national and social identity in a post-colonial culture that is characterized by unequal relations of economic and social power, inferiority, otherness experience and social clashes (Danticat, Edwidge, 1998). Presence of Ambelle, who is the book’s female protagonist, is deeply complemented especially from her description of events. Ambelle experiences many brutal incidences that surround the massacre and slaughtering of the Haitians in the republic of Dominican. The massacre happened during the rule of Raphael Trujillo back in 1937. The level of poverty and the poor social and economic conditions among the Haitian people forces them to migrate to Dominican Republic to work as farm labourers (Ink, Lynn Chun, p. 801). This is due to the fact that they lack the opportunity to enjoy even the ordinary means of life. The act of migration worsens their situation.
The Farming of Bones is a survivor's story. It is mainly concerned with the story of a woman killed in the massacre. This is based on the Haitian oral tales contained in the books of history. The title 'The farming of the bones" has been used to portray the suffering these men and women faced in the fields. Attacks from the snakes and rats in the fields leaves them bruised and their sin cut through at the end of the day. It portrays a colection of several characters and their ultimate experiences from the Haiti island. Amabelle is the protagonist in the story. She desires to become a house maid in the Dominican Republic just after her parents drown in the waves of MassacreRiver which is the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Women’s national and social identity is highly valued especially with their voice and their experience memory. This is apparent on Amabelle’s analytical reflection and her experiences of the massacre and also the impacts of the slaughtering driving her long for her national identity. Her construction of identity is challenged by the turmoil’s and toils she undergoes through as a result of the massacre.
The book starts with Valencia and Amabelle as grown women. During the birth of Valencia's twin-babies, Amabelle is within the vicinity. Amabelle's sister is married to a Dominican army officer who is very ambitious. He is then given the task of organizing the brutal murder of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. Amabelle has a lover called Sebastien who works sugar cane field, owned by Ignacio. This was a terrible job known to workers as ‘‘farming the bones’’ because of its killing, exhausting harshness. The relationship of Amabelle with the family she serves is very pleasant yet very distant in terms of virtues aligned therein.
The novel confronts her times with the other Haitian labourers in the cane fields within their homes in very pleasant conversations. They then gradually realize that the Dominican dictator is really against their wishes and that their entire lives are completely worthless before those who claim to be hiring them. Such tension is escalated when a poor cane worker is accidentally murdered by a careless driver. He is however not brought to book for the mistake he commited. This shows that there is no one even the Haitians who car for them. Sebastien disappears, presumably killed when the killing is started. Amabelle flees probably to Haiti all through the mountain cliffs and trails. Those who escaped are seriously pursued, beheaded or forced to jump over the cliffs in order to prevent them from reaching Haiti. Some were beaten to death. Amabelle dreams a lot about Sebastien, but they are indeed erotic.
Danticat brings out how one's world which is disrupted by life's violent waywardness can be shocking. The strangeness of the survivor's plight is depicted by the gaps left by unanswered questions, the dreams, the lost time. This brings out some suspense as to the fate of Amabelle: Is she considered a failure or a survivor? Did she die along with the others at the river who were pushed from the cliffs into the abyss of death? The novel explains vividly how one survives in harsh conditions as with each stitch Amabelle sews into the piece of cloth brings her much closer to the world of survival and its entire meaning (Martin, W.Todd, p. 249).
Towards the end of the novel she listens to a Haitian tour guide’s discussion on the Henry’s citadel. He claims that famous men never die, but it’s only the faceless and indeed nameless individuals who disappear like smoke into the thin air once they die. Amabelle decides to counteract the aftermath of the massacre which is simply to remember the facts vividly and amicably because should she forget then the stories would like a dress with no hem or a fish with no tail, a drop with no fall or even a body in the sunlight with no shadow. She must remember at least something most fundamental is the life of Sebastian.
Most Haitians crossed the border due to several reasons which could either be personal, political or even social problems (Hewett, Heather, p. 138). The women of Haiti crossed the border of the Dominican Republic in order to give birth. This entails to the pregnant women who wanted access to better health care for their unborn children at the hands of some qualified doctors at the border. The clinics were located at the borders to help in attracting both the Haitians and the citizens of the Dominican Republic. The Haitians and the Dominican citizens were very poor and could not access health care facilities which were otherwise very expensive in their home countries and even abroad. Dr. Camila Perozo chose to build his clinic in Jimani area to serve poor people on both sides of the border. Nevertheless most of the women at the hospital hailed from the Haiti country. Others escaped the enormous and frequent earth quakes experienced at their country. Haiti is frequently attacked by massive earth quakes that render most individuals homeless and due to this fact they decide to cross the border to the neighboring country.
Not only do the pregnant women cross the border, but dozens of injured Haitians also cross Dominican border for medical attention. Dominican authorities stepped up immigration controls due to the fear of the influx of illegal convicts and immigrants escaping from Port-au-Prince prison. At the GeneralMelecianoHospital, in Jimani which is about 280 kilometers west of the Dominican capital city, buses were seen with loads of injured children, women, men and the elderly. Many had fractured skulls and broken limbs from the Port au Prince.
Haitians crossed the Dominican border to escape the misery and effects of the dire abject poverty. Since they are faced with severe human needs coupled with 70% unemployment, Haitians constantly make their way to the border town of Ouanam in the seeking the promise of a better life. The individuals who have crossed the border promise their colleagues a better life once they cross the border to the other side of the land. This simply escalates the rate of migration to the Dominican Republic by the Haitians. The Haitians cross the border to attend the twice a week market days practiced across the border. This practice is believed to be of much economical importance to the Haitians who only head to the market on one market day within the week.
Some of the social problems between Haitians and Dominicans date back to 1822. These include the tension, mistrust and prejudice. It was when Haiti became the world's first black republic. Haiti invaded the Dominican Republic in order to stop the Spanish slavery on the Island. They harshly ruled the Dominicans until Dominicans gained independence in 1844. Since then, many Dominican officials have practiced racism by warning that Haiti has intentions of taking over the whole island. In 1937, a worst conflict between the two countries erupted. Over 30,000 migrant Haitians were slaughtered along the MassacreRiver near the border as a result of an order by the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. Problems such as high unemployment and depressed wages have been put forward to explain the influx of undocumented Haitians. Most of them have been welcomed across the border to work in low-paying jobs harvesting sugar cane or building roads. There has been an increase in the complaints over the recent years. The Dominican Republic has the highest growth rates in the Western Hemisphere which is about 7 percent. On the other hand, Haiti has been the region's poorest country. The past few years have seen unprecedented improvements in relations despite the tensions therein.
The Dominican and Haitian presidents last year reciprocated visits. This came for the first time in six decades. The two governments took the steps in 1996 in order to strengthen diplomatic, legal, and commercial ties, paving the way last year for the countries to begin direct mail service and to stop routing their letters through Miami as they used to do it before.
The individual’s personal characteristic gets lost as revealed by statistics and historical facts. The understanding of what might have occurred is evident from the rise of characters dating back from the time of the massacre (Charters, Mallay). The problems experienced by the people and the suffering they had to go through is made too real. The same problems experienced during those times of massacre are very evident in our current world today. This portrays a society that does live in misunderstanding and conflict and which is largely characterized by war.
Despite the many problems portrayed and evidenced by the author, the book also brings out the idea of hope and expectations in the middle of death. From the beginning, Amabelle has experienced internal conflicts. She is haunted by the past memories and dreams which comes as flashbacks. This is very symbolic of the fact that the author presents a life that is fragile and limited. Life can end even having the finest of circumstances; however, we can always cultivate something that we can always hold on to (Danticat, Edwidge, 1998). It presents a very hard decision of choosing to live in a world where people are brutally slaughtered and the “Farming of bones” alludes to this kind of man slaughter.
In conclusion therefore, it is evident that The Farming of Bones brings out the significance of a society that is founded on a common experience. Danticat proposes a reconnection of both countries into one single homeland. Accepting her roots in Haiti, Amabelle’s final decision of going back to the Dominican Republic symbolizes the renewal of her past hope and relations. Her entering into the river signifies a kind of “betweenness” which suggests that she is neither Dominican nor fully a Haitian and she finds her home between the two countries. This also serves as an initiative to integrate the two countries in to nation that is governed by understanding and respect of the human life which is considered precious. From the perspective presented, it is apparent that despite the colour, race and nationality disparity, it is possible to cultivate an alliance and build a peaceful community. Under any circumstance, the after effects can be severe if the immigrants are regarded as ‘other’ or even worse as the enemy.
Such kind of colonial mind-set call for the urgency of building an identity which in itself independent of imperial pressures/influences. Danticat explains how the act of globalization contributes to perforation and softening of boundaries and urges people to lessen their armour of rigidity to a strong engagement with other people. He provides a practical application and a transnational perspective of our current-day living that can make us to be a step closer to universal point of view which all people can relate to. Amabelle demonstrates forgiveness to a global peaceful world which is free of colonial influences and hatred