A Poetics of Relation: Caribbean Women Writing at the by Odile Ferly (auth.)

By Odile Ferly (auth.)

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Incest is thus symptomatic of a perverse filiation; by using this trope, the author wishes to reconsider an ideology based on the primacy of root thought. Indeed, when Éliette finally reaches out to Angela, the two women’s actual kinship is discarded (in fact, neither is aware of it) in favor of more beneficial, nurturing rhizomic ties that inform an enlarged conception of family. While sexual violence does figure in Hispanophone texts—for instance in Mayra Santos Febres’s stories “Marina y su olor” (Pez de vidrio, 1995) and “Resinas para Aurelia” (El cuerpo correcto, 1998), or in Anna Lidia Vega Serova’s “Performance de Navidad” (Bad Painting, 1998)—on the whole these tend to center on marital infidelity and prostitution.

Just as sterility and the loss of speech are the markers of Éliette’s suffering in Pineau, bulimia is symptomatic of the violence inflicted upon Sophie. “Uneasy in the dominant, masculine discourse,” the Guadeloupean writer Ernest Pépin notes, the Antillean woman “speaks with her body”; gaining and losing weight, “she distorts herself ” (“La femme antillaise et son corps” 192 [translation mine]). Thus Sophie hates her body: “I am ashamed to show it to anybody, including my husband” (Breath, Eyes, Memory 123).

Rosette rebels as a teenager by eloping with Rosan and as an adult by not tolerating female mistreatment. Her fascination with the utopian Rasta community, for instance, ends as soon as she realizes that it remains oppressive to women. As for Angela, in addition to leaving home (like Rosette a generation earlier), she turns in her father Rosan to the police to prevent him from abusing her little sister. Angela thereby confronts sexual abuse at the societal level and not simply within the family, as Rosette (Rosan’s blind accomplice) would rather have it.

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