In "Turning the Page on Disaster," can you help me summarize the importance of reading in Danticat's life.  And also what does reading tell her about Haitians in the aftermath of the earthquake...

In "Turning the Page on Disaster," can you help me summarize the importance of reading in Danticat's life.  And also what does reading tell her about Haitians in the aftermath of the earthquake that she might not have fully known before?

1 Answer | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

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

Posted on

Danticat's essay about the 2010 earthquake is reflective of the pain that she experienced as both Haitian- American as well as human being.  The reading illuminates that such disasters impact us on multiple levels.  On one level, the article speaks to Danticat's experience as a Haitian- American.  Danticat affirms the theme of national identity in her writing and thinking.  Danticat is quite open about the fact that her writing speaks to the experience of being Haitian, reflecting the complex nature of national identity.  Her work shows her to be a "strong advocate for issues affecting Haitians abroad and at home."

Such a reality is reflective of how Danticat's article speaks to identity on a national level. She writes the article, filled with eyewitness accounts, in order to provide some semblance of voice for individuals who might be forgotten and silenced through a lack of awareness.  At the same time, Danticat's first person narrative acquires a personalized story being told.  Danticat lost a cousin as a result of the 2010 earthquake.  When she writes about how the lives of Haitians were "turned upside down," it is a statement on a personal level, reflective of how Danticat's life was inverted as well.  This helps to reflect how the importance of the reading speaks to Danticat as both a Haitian- American, as well as a human being whose life was transformed as a result of natural disaster.  It is in this regard that the reading is relevant to Danticat's life.

I would also suggest that one of the lessons from Danticat's essay is how voice is essential in the human experience.  Danticat writes the essay about a year after the disaster.  It is evident that the world's attention has turned elsewhere.  Concentrated on Haiti for a moment, other crises took away from it and the result was that the Haitian experience in light of rebuilding after the earthquake was silenced.  Being able to use first person narrative, eyewitness accounts, and a personalized voice to what is happening in Haiti in its rebuilding after the earthquake depicts a resilience that Danticat knew existed within Haitian consciousness.  This reveals to the reader that Haitian identity is not automatically associated with victimization.  Such an awareness could be new to the reader, and something reaffirmed on both social and personal levels to Danticat herself.  Danticat's work in both the essay and in general rebukes the victimized role that Haitians often play in the world consciousness.  Rather, her work, as evident in the essay, "pushes back, clearing space for individuals, restoring the variegated colors of humanity that storms and death and our own compassion fatigue would wash away."

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,916 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question