Parents taught Toni to love reading, culture, and folk stories. Toni graduated from Howard University in 1953 with a B.A. in English, finished MA at Cornell University in 1955. Toni won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature and Pulitzer Prize for Beloved (1987). She wrote many novels and even children’s books. M became a professor at Princeton University in 1989.
“Thoughts on the African American Novel”
M shows how the novel was integrated into African American culture. It talked about the difference between the middle class and the lower class because the lower class kept their culture alive. M described African American culture novels. African American literature is history and culture and its many conflicts.
Y and A run across the stream toward the border. A saw a dead girl falling from the cart. The cart was full of corpses. Procession of three women praying for different needs. A remembers the father’s story on dandelions. A and Y met O and T and their group. A remembers S and his stories. T says he is a bird and tells of swimming to escape Dominicans wanting to cut them with their machetes.
They travel with T’s group. The earthquake woke them up. Y played with stick and soil to stay awake. They smelled the burning of dead bodies. T tells the story of beating up a Dominican boy when he was ten. They decided to separate later. I found a Haitian house with the whole family hung outside.
The characters of The Farming of Bones used different coping mechanisms to deal with the traumatic events in their lives. Some of these coping mechanisms are denial, repression, compensation, displacement, and getting support from others. Man Denise uses denial to deal with her pain of losing her children. She tells stories to Amabelle regarding people who said to her that her children died already, but she does not want to believe them. Instead, she wants to think that Sebastien and Micheline are still alive, like when she tells Amabelle that she is going to “dream up” her children (Danticat 243). She denies the death of her children to not feel so much pain in her life. Repression is another coping mechanism. Father Romain chose to forget at first. He repressed his memories which made him insane for some time because forgetting helped him bury the torture and deaths of many people (Danticat 261). Amabelle practices compensation, where she lives each day by sewing and doing chores, but she never lets go of the past through hanging on to memories and stories of her dead loved ones. When she says that the “past is more like flesh than air” (Danticat 281), she talks about the memories that are still alive for her like flesh. She feels everything in her past. She might not have moved on as Yves has, but her past keeps her alive too. Other coping mechanisms are displacement and getting support. Yves and Man Rapadou focus on the present. Man Rapadou accepts Amabelle into her home as if she is her daughter-in-law. Man Rapadou shares her dark secret with Amabelle and tells her that she killed her husband who is a traitor (Danticat 277). Yves represses his pain but also displaces the memories by focusing on planting and improving his life (Danticat 273). Amabelle also survives from getting acceptance and support from Yves and Man Rapadou.
Among these coping mechanisms, displacement and getting support from others are better than denial and repression. Though Amabelle is in denial at first that Sebastien has died, Yves and Man Rapadou supported her and helped her get back on her feet. Amabelle became more relaxed with Man Rapadou’s support for her and helping her to sew again (Danticat 268). Instead of being depressed, Amabelle learns she can have a better life if she stops thinking so much of the pain and starts enjoying her present life. To survive means to not just be alive, but to find meaning too in being alive. One of the best coping mechanisms is to find meaning in one’s life and in the present time because the past is already gone and the future is too uncertain.