Although "New York Day Women" is largely written in first person, Danticat's story alternates between two voices.
The alternating voices (signifying conflicting points of view) demonstrate the challenges of double identity. In the story, the mother is a Haitian native and a first-generation American. We hear the voice of the daughter, who is a second-generation immigrant, as she follows her mother through the crowd. The daughter, Suzette, admires her mother but has a difficult time reconciling her Haitian heritage with her American identity.
As she observes from afar, Suzette notes that her mother often looks out of place among the New York City crowd. Her bright print dresses seem incongruent among a sea of suits, high heels, and glamorous short skirts. When her mother stops to contemplate an African print dress, Suzette silently groans,
"I think to myself, Please Ma, don't buy it. It would be just another thing I would bury in the garage or give to Goodwill."
Through Suzette's internal monologue (comprising her voice and that of her mother's), we are given glimpses of her struggle to adapt Haitian values and conventions to modern American life. Even though Suzette loves her mother, she finds her traditions bewildering. For example, Suzette thinks that her mother should stay away from high-sodium foods. After all, her mother has high blood pressure. In America, health experts would certainly recommend such caution. However, Suzette's mother seems unfazed by the "rules" of western medicine; she purchases a frankfurter from a street vendor and proceeds to eat it, to Suzette's horror.
Suzette's conflict with her mother also arises from her mother's expectations for her. From the story, we can see that the mother wants her daughter to marry and to have children. However, there is little indication that Suzette agrees with her mother's conception of ideal femininity. To soothe her anxieties, Suzette's mother sews Raggedy Ann dolls that she names after her daughter, as she says,
"I will have all these little Suzettes in case you never have any babies, which looks more and more like it is going to happen."
Certainly, Suzette's struggle with double identity is evident in this first-person story. However, Danticat also shows that Suzette's mother has her own struggles. The text tells us that Suzette's mother never attended any parent-teacher meetings when Suzette was in school. Her reason? A heart-breaking "I don't want to make you ashamed of this day woman." These words show that Suzette is not the only one struggling with the problem of double identity. Suzette's own mother must navigate life in a foreign country with traditional Haitian values still ensconced in her psyche.