Danticat’s Delicacy in The Dew Breakers

In Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breakers, she illustrates a way with words that is unparalleled in beauty and simplicity. Although the novel’s title itself is a reference to the brutality of those who tortured innocent Haitians, the way she weaves the story is as delicate as the sensitive subject itself.
What is quite possibly the most enchanting aspect of this novel is the author herself, who shows the kind of respect for her stories and the language with which she tells them. One example is the short story entitled Book of Miracles. In it she details a family’s experience at midnight mass when they think they see one of the torturers from Haiti. What could easily be an overly dramatic piece is instead treated with a sense of compassion that is almost indescribable. This is part of Danticat’s gift, her removal from the experience. She herself never underwent the torturous practices of the Dew Breakers, but she never claims to be able to voice this experience. In a world where it seems everyone’s clamoring for the next shocking tell-all, Danticat seems content in making her audience feel. Most importantly, while torture is obviously an awful experience, she does not paint it as simply a terrible experience. With close attention to detail and simple, accessible language she creates the complexities of the emotional stigma of the events that took place. To find a writer as humble in her expression of these stories is both alarming and charming at the same time in our modern literary world.
Danticat’s novel is engaging for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps the most distinguishable is that her novel has no pretensions. She feels the story must be told, but she takes the time to illustrate her characters as real life people, not merely victims. Also, she doesn’t barrage the audience with gory details, she uses intense settings sparingly and beautifully, to draw the reader out of his/her comfort zone, to make the experience real. Regardless of personal preferences when it comes to literature, Edwidge Danticat has envisioned an important and compassionate portrayal of the lives of those with painful and all too real pasts.


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