In the novel, Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat there are various themes that are portrayed and symbolized throughout the novel. Amabelle, an orphaned Haitian maid, struggles with the idea of letting go of the past, the tragedy of death, and loss. According to the quote by Barbara Christian, she states, “among the folk who speak in muted tones of color, feminists, radical critics, creative writers, who have struggled for much longer then a decade to make their voices heard. This quote symbolizes one of the many reasons Amabelle struggles to let go of the past, because she is afraid to speak out about issues that are causing her guilt and grief.
Amabelle has reoccurring nightmares of her parents’ death that often lingers in her mind and causes her to continuously delve into the past. These nightmares haunt her life and when her boyfriend, Sebastian, friend Joel is killed, death becomes present in her life again.
Amabelle and Sebastian are trying to avenge Joel’s death and give him a proper sending off service, but this is a difficult task for both of them because they have both been faced with death of loved ones before.
This quote, although it appears later in the novel, resembles the grief both Amabelle and Sebastian are feeling, “Misery won’t touch you gentle. It always leaves its thumbprints on you; sometimes it leaves them for others to see, sometimes for nobody but you to know of. Danticat, Pg 353. This quote can relate to how Amabelle stresses over the death of her parents, how Sebastian never speaks of the death of his father, and how both Amabelle and Sebastian are dealing with the death of Joel. As Amabelle is coming to terms of Joel’s death, she is haunted by the fact that it was Senor Pico’s car that killed Joel. Amabelle has to live with the burden of not telling anyone; especially Joel’s father Kongo, that it was Senor Pico who killed Joel.
Papi confronts Amabelle because he feels troubled by the fact he was in the car that killed a worker. He says “On the day my grandchildren are born, I was in an automobile that may have taken a man’s life. You will tell me, Amabelle, if you hear of this man, if you hear that he lived or died. You will ask your friends then report to me. ” Danticat, Pg. 44. When Amabelle goes down to the stream and talks with Mimi, the guilt begins to weigh down on her of the knowledge she knows and the fact she cannot speak out about it.
This moment references back to the quote by Barbara Christian, how based on her place in society and being a Haitian worker, she is unable to openly speak on this tragedy because she is of lower class then Senor Pico and Papi who killed Joel. So instead of Amabelle clearing her conscious and telling the truth of what happened to Joel, she is silenced. In the midst of coming to terms with Joel’s death, Amabelle loses Sebastian. The Generalissimo has come to kill off the Haitians, and Amabelle and Sebastian’s friends Yves, flee in hopes of finding Sebastian.
Amabelle and Yves are beaten and injured by the Dominicans and are educated on the massacre that is occurring. After years of searching for Sebastian she is unable to find him. She says, “The past is more like flesh than air; our stories testimonials like the ones never heard by the justice of the peace or the Generalissimo himself… His absence is my shadow, his breath my dreams. New dreams seem a waste, needles annoyances, too much to crowd into the tiny space that remains. ” Danticat, Pg 441. Amabelle has lost the only thing that kept her alive, Sebastian.
She explains how she is basically lifeless and empty without him, and his death will begin to haunt her. Amabelle lives a hauntingly tragic life. She has experienced death, loss, and grief from a young age. Amabelle is haunted by the death of her parents, Joel, and Sebastian and she is never truly able to let go. Her grief and sadness weigh on her and she is living her life searching for answers. Always hoping to round a corner to find Sebastian. She returns to the river where he parents died hoping to find closure for all the pain she has suffered. Her closure is floating down the river, just like her parents did.
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