The Relationship between Trauma and Collective Experiences

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presents specific instances that show the relationship between individual trauma and collective experiences. Some of the chapters that depict traumatic scenes include Water Child, the Book of Miracles, the Night Talkers, and the Bridal Seamstress.

In Water Child, for example, Nadine tries to heal from the traumatic experience she had in Haiti of aborting her pre-term pregnancy. The 40-year-old nurse is also trying to maintain an emotional balance after breaking up with her ex-boyfriend. While standing at the door of the elevator, moments after discharging Ms. Hinds, Nadine sees an enlarged and distorted version of her showing how she would be looking had she not aborted, which triggers her traumatic memories (Danticat Ch. 3). The character tries to find healing in calling her ex-boyfriend, but this only worsens the wound when she realizes that he already moved on and married another wife.

On the other hand, in the Night Talkers, Dany encounters a painful scenario that re-triggers the traumatic events he witnessed when he was a child. The character is forced to share the same roof with the man who not only murdered his parents but also blinded his aunt and threatened to kill him. He contemplates killing this long-time enemy but realizes that it would continue haunting him. Dany believes that sharing this story with his blind aunt would help relieve this pain, but before he reveals this big secret, he finds her aunt dead in a sleep (Danticat Ch. 3).

The Bridal Seamstress relates to the painful experience that Beatrice Saint Fort went through when she was living in Haiti. The wound reopens when she realizes that the man who brutally whipped her in the feet, a Haitian prison guard, is now residing in the neighborhoods (Danticat Ch.1). The narrator hopes to heal from this traumatic experience by sharing her story with Aline Cajuste, who had come to interview her.

Concisely, in The Book of Miracles, Anne notices the flier of Emmanuel Constant during a Christmas mass, which re-traumatizes her. Constant is wanted for the torture and murder in Haiti. Anne believes that someday, her daughter Kra will see a similar flier of her father and will learn all the dirty secrets of his dad’s past (Danticat Ch. 1). Anne tries to overcome this trouble by not setting her foot on the mass again, though this does not keep her from reflecting on such instances.

In sum, Danticat uses the chapters mentioned above in Dew Breaker to demonstrate how trauma has been re-triggered in various characters. However, with all efforts that the protagonists make, they do not seem to heal.

Work Cited

Danticat, Edwidge. The dew breaker. Vintage, 2007.

November 24, 2023



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