Everyone has a story to tell, even if we don’t realize it. Stories are used to connect the past and the present to the future. We use stories to make sense of the world and share traditions, cultures, and history. In her memoir, Brother, I’m Dying, Edwidge Danticat use storytelling as a way of voicing for those in her family who couldn’t. At the age of four and living in Haiti, Danticat and her younger brother was left in the care of her uncle Joseph while her parents moved to the U.S to seek economic opportunities and escape the violence in Haiti. Until the age of twelve she and her sibling was able to join her parents.
Centered on her father and Uncle past and the events leading up to there passing, she connect her family stories to highlight Haiti’s political history. Haiti history played a significant role, as it was a time of violence and political uprising. Danticat uses her family’s story of migration and survival to shed light on Haiti’s history of economic and political instability, as well as a turbulent relationship between Haiti and the US. In her memoir, Danticat interweaves into her family’s story of migration the volatile political climate in Haiti that occurred under the Duvalier dictatorship. Haiti has had a fair share of struggles since they gained independence in 1804. They suffered inadequate leadership; as they did not want help build Haitian economy. Uncle Joseph stated, ” Certain people think that in order for the country to progress, only the rich minority need succeed.
This country cannot move forward without the majority” (pg. 31). So many leaders have used their position to only help themselves and failed to help their country. During the period of the Duvalier, Haiti faced repression and violence with made many Haitian migrate. Francois Duvalier, also known as Papa Doc, was disliked throughout Haiti for his human rights abuse. He formed the militia group called the Tonton Macoutes that used violence to maintain order against enemies. Danticat’s father worked as a salesman in a shoe and encountered police corruption first hand.
The Macoutes would use their power and come into the store, try on shoes, and walk out without paying for it; to object meant suicide. This mistreatment by the government made Danticat’s father fear for his life as the Macoutes continue to terrorize the community. The Duvalier organization was permitted to act unethically or uncivilly to the community because they did not answer to any law, but only to François Duvalier.
The unpredictability of the government motivated many Haitian, just her father, to migrate somewhere else, as life in Haiti was very unsafe. Danticat Uncle’s involvement in Haitian politics incorporates the political instability as Haitian’s dispute