1. Read “Caroline’s Wedding” by Edwidge Danticat (Blackboard: Course Documents).
3. Pick ONE of the following options and respond in the comment section down below. The deadline is Wednesday, 5/3 before the class.
How does the setting of the story, a Haitian-US American family organizing a wedding, shape the themes and conflicts that emerge throughout the narrative? What cultural tensions or differences are highlighted by the juxtaposition of these two cultural contexts?
In what ways does the character of Caroline embody the challenges and contradictions of the immigrant experience in the United States? How do her relationships with her family members reflect larger themes of identity, belonging, and cultural fusion?
What narrative strategies does Danticat use to convey the complex emotions and histories of her characters, and how do these strategies shape our understanding of the story’s central themes?
Helen Ceballos describes a harrowing experience of attempting to cross the water from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. What does this story reveal about the risks and dangers of migration, and how might it shape our understanding of the factors that drive people to undertake such journeys?
Thinking of these questions, describe how the photographs expand on the topics of migration present in Ceballos’s text.
What emotions does this (textual/visual) retelling of the experience of crossing waters arise in you?
Helen Ceballos is a Dominican performer, visual artist, writer, and cultural promoter that addresses issues of migration to Puerto Rico and the US; Black Atlantic, and Queer Afro-Latinidad.
Cerezas por papeles/ Cherries for documents, a photo-text, forms a part of a broader composition that Ceballos conceived and executed at a gallery in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The piece is an assemblage of fragments that draws from Ceballos’ personal experiences of relocating to Puerto Rico and traveling to various other countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, and the US. Ceballos contends that comprehending the theme of migration requires us to engage with diverse modes of expression, accounts, and viewpoints. Specifically, she has a vested interest in how Dominican and Caribbean women are affected by migration. Furthermore, she seeks to explore the ways in which the vulnerability of migrants is compounded by gender-based oppression, anti-blackness, and perpetual misinterpretation.
What does Ceballos mean when she says, “empathy appears when we glimpse kindness among those of us who migrate clandestinely, and we become siblings”? How does this relate to the experiences shared in the reading?
What is the significance of the phrase “out of sight, out of mind, out of the heart” in the context of the reading?
In the story about the woman who fell into the sea and the man who said, “It was her or us,” what does this reveal about the attitudes towards survival and self-preservation during the journey of clandestine migration?
The excerpt includes several accounts of people engaging in illegal or exploitative activities related to migration, such as renting out a birth certificate for a fee or offering a fraudulent marriage to facilitate the legalization process. What do these stories reveal about the social and economic dynamics of migration, and how might they contribute to cycles of vulnerability and exploitation?
Lorraine Avila, a writer and educator from the Bronx, New York, draws inspiration from the diasporic experience of her community, family, and the women before her. Her stories delve into the lives of layered characters, taking readers on a journey of loss, triumph, and healing. Through her writing, Avila offers insight into the complexities of displacement and its impact on migrants. Her work has been featured in various publications, including Hippocampus Magazine, Moko Magazine, and La Galeria Magazine. In 2017, she received her Masters in teaching from New York University and was awarded a scholarship from The Wing Scholarship Program in 2019. Avila currently resides in the Bronx.
Here are some of the connecting themes within Malcriada and Other Stories:
Identity: Many of the stories in the collection explore questions of identity, including how identity is shaped by factors such as migration, culture, gender, and family.
Migration and class: Migration is a recurring theme throughout the collection, with many stories exploring the experiences of immigrants and the challenges they face in adapting to new cultures and environments. Class is also a recurring theme in the collection. Migration often involves significant cultural and economic changes, which can be especially challenging for individuals from lower social classes who may lack the resources and support systems necessary to navigate these changes.
Gender: Several stories in the collection focus on gender, including the ways in which gender roles and expectations intersect with cultural and societal expectations related to migration.
Family and gender: Family is another important theme in the collection, with many stories exploring the complex relationships between family members and the challenges of navigating these patriarchal relationships in the context of migration and cultural change.
Culture: Culture is a central theme in many of the stories, with several exploring the clash between traditional Dominican culture and US American culture.
.What challenges do the protagonist and her family face as migrants in the story?
.In what ways does the protagonist’s experience of intra-Caribbean migration reflect broader issues related to migration and displacement in the Caribbean region?
.How does the story use specific details and imagery to portray the Dominican migrant experience?
.How does the protagonist’s experience of traveling via yola shape her perspective on migration and her identity as a Dominican migrant?
.How does the story suggest ways in which society can work to address the dangers faced by migrants who travel via yolas?
Part II: The Role of Gender in Migration
Creative Writing Exercise
Inspired by the letter in Spanish in the short story, write a short letter to yourself as a child inviting yourself to express and advocate for yourself and speak up about things that matter to you.
Group Discussion/ Group Listening
Pick ONE of the questions. Each member of the group will speak for one minute and thirty seconds.
.How does Avila portray the relationship between the protagonist, her mother, and her Abuela in “Malcriada”? What role do these characters play in shaping the protagonist’s experience of migration and gender expectations?
.What gender expectations or roles are depicted in the story, and how does “Malcriada” challenge or subvert those traditional gender norms?
.How does the protagonist navigate the expectations placed on her as a girl in Dominican society?
.What is the significance of the protagonist’s decision to stand up to her mother, and how does this relate to broader themes of agency and empowerment for women?