By Odile Ferly (auth.)
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Additional resources for A Poetics of Relation: Caribbean Women Writing at the Millennium
Financial autonomy is clearly not the norm for women in the impoverished community described in the novel: except for Éliette, Glawdys, and the school mistress Mademoiselle Mérédith, they all depend on a man or on welfare benefits. Significantly, Éliette stops working as soon as she gets married, whereas Glawdys is scorned and judged too proud by the neighborhood. Economic dependency certainly exacerbates gender relationships; in fact, it can turn into a form of oppression, as women’s capacity to bear children is exploited by unscrupulous men to expropriate state child support.
Sophie is also set on uprooting the practice of tests. Like Pineau’s Angela who denounces her father, Sophie thus breaks the cycle of oppression. Here again, an alternative Relating the Female Experience O 37 tradition that values rhizomic connections is set against a pernicious heritage revolving around filiation (the generations-old custom). Distancing herself from her mother and the Haitian diasporic community, Sophie establishes new connections, notably through Joseph, whose Louisiana background bridges Haitian and African American cultures, and through her all-female therapy support group.
Nevertheless, Ángela’s own emancipation remains limited, a point that is explored later. Sandra is certainly the most liberated woman portrayed in Minimal son. Spared traditional socialization by an unconventional childhood—much to her mother Elsa’s grief—she is determined and self-confident, significantly the only female character destined to a professional career. Yet Sandra is unable to disclose her newly discovered sexuality: she resorts to moving to Havana. 24 Whereas women are subject to men’s violence in L’espérance-macadam, in Edwidge Danticat’s Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994) as in Minimal son they suffer mostly from socialization.