Hadriana’s Voice

“I died on the night of the most beautiful day of my life.”

January 23, 2020 12-1PM EST

Movement 3 of the novel again takes us into yet another, entirely surprising set of stories – told, this time, in Hadriana’s own words. With the help of our Boston College colleague Régine Michelle Jean-Charles, we’ll discuss what we learn from her self-telling of womanhood and zombification, and consider the alternative geography of the Caribbean Depestre poses here. We’ll pay particular attention to the ending of the novel, and the stories it enticingly leaves untold.

Reading: Movement 3

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One Reply to “Hadriana’s Voice”

  1. Hi all, one of Professor Glover’s seminar students here. I looked at Hadriana’s section of the novel in my last essay. I was interested in how idealized she was by Patrick, and by all of Jacmel, and how in the last section of the book she really sets things straight and takes back her own narrative. It’s clear that from the beginning, she is objectified for her physical beauty –– but what interested me in particular was the language used to describe her. Hadriana is referred to as a rose, a fairy, an angel, a star, a jewel –– either an inanimate object, or a magical, ethereal being that doesn’t really exist –– such that she’s actually denied her humanity. I thought it was ironic that, through this myth of her perfection and this fairy-tale language, she’s considered this superhuman, supernatural being long before she even becomes a zombie.

    Revisiting her section of the book, I really came to appreciate how sharp her character is –– fully aware of how she is perceived by the Jacmeliens, and pushing back against it, even gently mocking it. When she is called « une étoile qui n’a brillé qu’une fois » Hadriana demands, « Où ? Quand ? La nuit de Meyer sous la grande main tremblante de Patrick? Au jardin du manoir, dans les bras révérencieux de mon Hector? » simultaneously ridiculing this repeated metaphor of her as a shining star and reaffirming her sexuality (183). Later, expressing regret about not having consummated her marriage before her death, she reveals that her fiancé « avait eu peur de souiller la chair blonde de la fée française, fille créole d’un prince des maths et du tabac » (168). Here, she uses the same fairy-tale language that others use to describe her, calling herself a « fairy » and her father a « prince », to express her frustration at being treated so gingerly. Able to tell her story in her own words, Hadriana upends and dispels this myth that has surrounded her up until this point –– first and foremost by demonstrating that she is a human being, with thoughts, desires, and agency –– and then by taking back and twisting around the very language that was used to idealize her.

    Alexandra Lozada says:

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