College Essay Examples

Danticat – Nineteen Thirty Seven


Edwidge Danticat illustrates a strong symbolism and meaning behind the Madonna owned by a mother and others in the play nineteen thirty-seven. In massacre 1937, there is a young girl by the name of Josephine that is struggling with her imprisoned mother. Her mother was accused of witchcraft; Josphine fights back to keep this sadness because she does not want to bother her mother anymore. The Haitian women had been suffering a lot. Therefore, the Madonna they own stand for the pain and suffering that the Haitian women, particularly Josephine’s mother, undergo. Danticat reveals the importance of the statue for the Haitian women, why they value it, and the significance, especially to the relationship between mother and daughter.

Manman sees the Madonna as something that provides hope and faith to their generations. These people include mothers, mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers. When Josephine visited her mother in prison, her mother seemed significantly happier when she saw the Madonna and then saw her (Browning,  (2020). Manman pointed to the modanna and opened her arms lovingly to receive it. She carefully rubbed the modanna and then tested it using her index finger. Her mother had immense faith that the modena would always protect her daughter Josephine and her from all pain. She goes ahead to ask her daughter if the modanna had cried, and Josephine explains that it had shed some tears just a little bit (pg.449). As if to reward it, her mother places Madona across her chest and gently caresses it. She then broke down and began sobbing herself. She continued crying until a guard came threatening her with a rifle to stop crying. In those times, Madonna presented the suffering of women. Those women had to deal with a lot of heartaches. Immediately after visiting her mother, Josephine feels very guilty. She wishes that she could not have stayed with her in the first place. She feels this way because she can do nothing to save a mother’s situation (pg.450). Her mother tells her that they have not mistreated her, and this Josephine knows it to belie. What with her mother’s neatly shaved hair that reveals all the problems that they have to undergo. The prisoner’s hair is shaved weekly. Every day before they get to sleep, they are forced to pour cold water. It is believed that it will make their bodies not master enough heat of growing the kind of wings that they use to fly away in the middle of the night to the children’s slumber rooms stealing their innocent breath. Manman tells Josephine that the food she always brings her can take her for even months. Whenever she takes that food, she chews a smaller portion and then swallows the saliva. She then puts it away and eats again. This way, it can take her even longer periods. All the other women in prison have awful looks on their faces. Their body chins are sucked, almost touching their chest. Some with large boils on their heads, while others with shaved heads that sank low on dowed necks. All these women were arrested for the same reason;  being seen at night rising on the ground like birds on fire (Baksh & Esprit,  (2019).

Manman notably was arrested for the same reason. On that day, Josephine works up only to find her mother gone. She followed the cries and found her arrested by tho police officers. The violent mob was on head-on, giving her severe beatings (pg.451) It was said that Josephine’s mother had killed a child she was looking after. Josephine tried to save her mother, but she could not even reach near the violent mob. She could only follow her to the police station and watch her mother’s hair be shaved for the first time. Her mother now was like a snake, someone with no bones left in the body. The women in that prison were shaved to resemble crows or like men. Manman sat with the statue pressed against her chest as if hoping for the future. But the truth is Manman is someone who has never waited for the future; she always believed in the past as if she depended on it.

The narrator of Josephine’s past and her generations, the Haitians women, relies on a change between the violent past and its broken historical connection to the present. The experience Josephine had at the river massacre with her ancestors and the symbolic sisters of the river. In the text, Josephine says that they had gone to the massacre river in the past (pg 450), which she expected to be filled with blood but was still evident as crystal. Later Josephine goes with another woman who had come to visit them to see her mother’s body being burnt. This woman had predicted that her mother had died or was sooner going to die. True to her prediction, they found Manman dead, and was Josephine seemed rather pleased with her prediction turning into reality. When Josephine accepts to go with another woman to watch her mother’s body being buried, she becomes part of the attempt to re-establish the history of Haiti. The women in the cell explain to them how her mother was beaten to death. Josphine takes her mother’s pillow for herself. Inside, the pillow was full of her mother’s hair, and she hugged them. On the other hand, Jacqueline brings a piece of black cloth and wraps it around her belly (pg.454).

The writer describes the environment that they are to be so depressing and cynical. At the onset of the text, Josephine talks of a Madonna crying. This already creates a gloomy environment (pg. 449).She goes ahead and takes about a lady she meets on the way, the lady seems interested in the Madonna she is carrying, and she points to Josephine at it. They converse with the lady for some time, and without releasing it, they reach the prisons. The narrator describes the prison environment to be so disheartening and awful. The sad faces that the prison inmates are wearing is evident. She asks for permission to see her mother, and when her mother comes, they maintain a weird silence. The narrator is silent, and the mother is realized to be regular. She is also silent because she does not like the suffering her mother is forced to undergo. Her mother tells her that the food the narrator her daughter always brings her can take her for a very long time. She explains how she takes a small portion at a time to keep it lasting. These are some of the illustrations that show the miserable life in prison. One of the inmates comes to sit closer to them after smelling some fresh aroma from the food that Josephine had brought her mother. She does this for her to at least get some portion of it. This illustration gives evidence that in the prisons the prison the inmate do not gate enough food.

Reflective Journal

Josephine knows the painful legacy behind her existence. During her birth, her mother had to choose between her and Josephine’s grandmother’s life. Her life, therefore, depends on her mother’s death. She felt in bond with both her mother and grandmother due to the rituals that her mother took on the massacre river to save. She has never understood this ritual, and yet she is constantly awed by her mother’s stories. When Jacqueline visits her, Josephine asks her several questions that a fellow ritualist can only understand. Even though she finds some energy in the ritualist world, she feels overwhelmed by the depressing world and is even more helpless to change it. The narrator does not know how to connect with her mother, mainly because she can not save her situation. She hides her profound sorrow and pretends to be strong. She values her relationship with her mother though she can not express it. She even acknowledges her tradition and past.

Injustice is an imperative aspect of that society. The writer describes the hitatians migration as a sad occurrence. The massacre during that time was a  significant thing to the hitatians history (Gutiérrez Hernández, (2019).  Most of the people them living in the Dominican Republic were murdered. Josephine’s mother knows the role he played on that day, and thus, he honors the significance of that day. Her perseverance, knowledge, and wisdom enabled her to escape from the Dominican republic and reach hesitation before giving birth to her daughter Josephine. Mama uses her ability to perform sacrifices of rituals in honor of that day following the massacre site. Both of them draws personal strength and resolve the challenges that they had encountered on that day. Her mother used to honor and preserve the day by taking her to the massacre river to perform rituals such as bowing and praying. Her mother tells her that she had waded into the river during tha massacre full of blood to protect herself and her daughter. As time moved on, Josephine felt repressed talking with her mother. This lack of communication means Josephine herself does not understand the meaning of these rituals. After many years of less contact, Josephine’s open-ups and her connection with her mother and ancestors have strengthened once again. She learns about the reason for her mother’s suffering and resilences. This narration proves that people face great hardship in their lives.

Business-Level and Corporate-Level Strategies Assignment

Crying represents the suffering that the Haitians faced. As long as they lived, they suffered and were thus called. The writer says that both the children and the dead baby between the pool and the gardenias are dead without crying. Josphine wants to suppress her suffering, and so she prevents crying. Manman forces the Madonna to call because her woes have not died. The narrator says that writing is a form of crying, and she evaluates the sound of her writings to the sound of crying. Her writing elaborates on her sufferings and the sufferings of her ancestors. Butterflies are used in the text to imply the acceptance of harsh reality. Josphine says that different butterflies represent different information. To their country, nearly all messages were terrible. A black butterflies land on the female narrator, making her understand that the male narrator is dead. In the end, it becomes the missing piece. The night women narrator imagines that her son is a butterfly and knows the unavoidable distance to protect him. She knows that butterflies are elusive and very hard to catch or control.

Braiding represents the combination of a unique strand into a more exciting and beautiful whole. The narrator says that writing is like braiding because it forces different and separate elements to bring singles. The result isn’t always pretty if the hair fails to corporate. The process is realized to be soothing the rhythmic performance of the skills. The narrator’s skill comes to her naturally, which she inherited from both her mother and ancestors, who braid her hair when she was young. Despite the writer’s mother’s inability to approve her writing, she inherited all the foundation and basis of writing from her same mother.



Baksh, A., & Esprit, S. (2019). Teaching Edwidge Danticat’s Krik? Krak! Through Global Learning Classrooms. In Approaches to Teaching the Works of Edwidge Danticat (pp. 167-179). Routledge.

Browning, J. A. (2020). Edwidge Danticat as Literary Archeologist.

Gutiérrez Hernández, G. (2019). Carrying Trauma.



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