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

By Odile Ferly (auth.)

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The novel is also replete with cases of domestic violence and of women murdered by pathologically possessive male companions. Hortense, for instance, is beaten up daily and virtually held captive by the violent gouverneur Régis, who eventually kills and butchers her out of pure jealousy. Régis’s symbolic profession as gouverneur (or cane field overseer) is telling of the level of acceptance of domestic violence endorsed even by representatives of the law and order. The most patent form of abuse, however, is rape.

The novel also features some positive male figures, such as Éliette’s stepfather Joab as well as her two late husbands Renélien and Hector. But Renélien still considers that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, and her role to feed her man. He firmly believes that “woman is the work of man” (L’espérance-macadam 146): woman is man’s inferior, and he ought to educate her. In her essay “Écrire en tant que Noire” (293), Pineau reports that many Antillean women resent her negative portrayal of men, whereas male readers seldom complain, as if in tacit acquiescence.

Like figurative mangroves, their narratives thus enact the principles of relaté and relié inherent to Glissant’s Relation. The comparative perspective adopted in this study further shows that the cases imagined by millennial writers are not unique, nor are they only relevant to one Caribbean society. On the contrary, the strong patterns that emerge from this comparison challenge the premise that sexism is merely a product of a given society or cultural legacy, suggesting instead that it is at least partly rooted in the colonial experience itself.

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