"Famous men never die, it is only those nameless and faceless that vanish like smoke into the early morning air." Why is this central to the novel's theme?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that it might be helpful to specify the title of the work in the main question in order to obtain more immediate responses.  I think that the idea of genocide occupies a great deal of importance in the work.  By its very nature, genocide focuses on the poor and the individuals who lack a fundamental political voice of strong autonomy in order to impact change.  Those who die in genocides are ones who are, to a certain extent, nameless.  The powers that perpetrate the genocide seek to eliminate their targeted individuals and do seek to make them vanish, so that no one would recognize their absence.  In the end, this becomes the central and driving force behind authority structures who are responsible for genocide.  Those who die are individuals who are rendered as nameless.  Yet, it is through the acknowledgement of their narratives and their experiences, as seen with works such as Danticat's, that brings voice to their narrative, allowing them to have not been vanished deaths as much as accepted moments where human beings demonstrated their worst capacity for cruelty.

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