Trauma and Healing: Focus on one story that depicts someone either suffering from their past trauma or learning to work through it. Reflect on what this story shows about the traumas of the past.
The Dew Breaker illuminates the suffering that people of Haiti go through in their daily lives. Duvaliers, who were very corrupt, were governing the Haitians. The corrupt government exposed the people to trauma. Many of the characters in the book explain suffering, death and the road to recovery from the events that traumatized them. In the book, the process of recovery is explained as voicing the trauma that people went through, taking action to deal with it and forgetting the trauma. The novel gives the reader hopes that recovering from trauma is possible if one follows the process prescribed by the book. This essay will discuss the process of healing by Ka’s father.
The Dew Breaker experiences trauma. The perpetrators of the many heinous crimes are by no means safe from trauma. The perpetrators of the trauma are the most deeply haunted people. This is because they are haunted by those whom they tortured. They remember the suffering that they created which haunts their hearts. In the novel, the suffering of Ka’s father is also the Dew Breaker. He becomes haunted every day by the spaces he created in his actions.
The Dew Breaker was a Prison guard. Currently, he suffers from constant nightmares. He begins the process of healing by voicing his trauma. In the book, he opens up to Ka, his daughter and says, “I . . . your father did to others” (Danticat 23). That was the time Ka’s father was preparing to tell his daughter the truth. In the process, he wants to avoid the sculpture depicting him as a victim. The sculpture reminded him of the lies he expressed to others all throughout his life. After the first step, Ka’s father calms down and assumes normalcy. That is why the novel describes him as younger.
After he throws the sculpture away, he tells his daughter the truth. The process is very difficult for him. As he tells his daughter the truth, “each word is now hard-won as it leaves [her] father’s mouth, balanced like those hearts on the Ancient Egyptian scales” (Danticat 21). The comparison to Egyptian scales highlights the process of healing. He tries to lighten the load that ties down his heart by telling the truth. His own guilt causes him the most traumas.
The Dew Breaker’s action of throwing away the sculpture signified death. The sculpture reminded him of his past life. He explained to his daughter that he never loved his personality. He also wants to live that life behind and starts to learn the ancient Egyptian culture as he takes action. He learns their way of life, monuments, and crypts. The actions imply that Ka’ father wanted people to adopt his new life. In the end, his actions bring solutions to his suffering. His daughter also accepts that his father hated his past. She also understands that burying him with the sculpture means that the life of torturing people would forever be with him. His actions do not completely erase his memory, but he assumes normal life.
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Danticat, Edwidge. The Dew Breaker. New York: Vintage Books, 2005. Retrieved 31st March 2014 from http://www2.webster.edu/~corbetre/personal/reading/danticat-dew.html
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