Edwidge Danticat’s work in Caroline’s Wedding reflects several concepts of Diaspora and Hybridity. As a concept, diaspora is the physical, psychological and emotional dispersion of individuals away from their native land where they feel desolate or alienated in their host countries. Hybridity is the product of diaspora where culture and value orientation are already mixed. The concepts of diaspora and hybridity are evident in the characters of Hermine, Grace, and Caroline particularly in the decision of the character of Caroline to marry Eric, who is of Bahamian descent despite the protestations of her mother Hermine.
Concept of diaspora and hybridity are two intertwined concepts where diaspora causes hybrid, especially among children. Diaspora is the dispersion of an individual from his or her native country due to many reasons which includes to be away from conflict and persecution or in the case of Caroline’s family, to find a better future. Diaspore is also a sense of identity of which one identifies to the larger group which reflects one’s ethnicity. It could also be a struggle to maintain one’s identity in a country that is totally alien from one’s native country.
Hybridity, on the other hand, is the creation of a new cultural norm and identity in the place where one migrated. It is produced by the interaction of the migrant to the larger societal context of which one is in. Hybridity is facilitated by the movement of people in other places where they bring with them the identity, values, traditions, culture, and norms of their home country to the country they are migrating into. Their native culture mixes with the host country’s culture thereby creating a hybrid. Hybridity is becoming more common among the youth who are products of the migrants but raised and born in the host country as reflected in the character of Caroline. Their values are often mixed and do not necessarily reflect entirely the culture of the place where they came from.
The concept of diaspora is reflected in the character of Hermine and Grace, the mother and sister of Caroline, who is struggling to hold on to their Haitian roots. This explains why Hermine disapproves of Caroline’s marriage to Eric who is non-Haitian because it felt like her daughter is leaving them. In this regard, Hermine feels alienated to her host country as she still longs for her native land. Grace reflects the concept of diaspora as she still did not feel to belong in American society until she got her passport. To quote how she felt about her stay in America without her citizenship and passport “it feels like “an indentured servant who had finally been allowed to join the family” (Danticat 214).
The concept of hybridity, on the other hand, is very apparent in the character of Caroline in many ways. The most obvious manifestation of hybridity in the character of Caroline when she is bent on marrying Eric despite the protestation of her mother and despite his Bahamian background. Caroline is no longer qualifying nationality or commonality of roots as a basis of marriage just like a typical American. In her decision, to go against her mother, she is already displaying the hybridity of her value orientation which is now more American as or as she called in the family the “New York child” who has never known Haiti (Danticat 175). This labeling of Caroline by her family is an admission that indeed she is a hybrid child.
The concept of hybridity is further illustrated when Caroline no longer believed in the supernatural power of Haitian bone soup that her mother Hermine prepared for them. In her effort to change Caroline’s mind from marrying Eric, Hermine prepares the Haitian bone soup in almost every dinner hoping that its magical power to cure illnesses and to correct what is perceived to be wrong will change Caroline’s mind from marrying Eric (Danticat 87). To make Hermine that Caroline no longer believes in the supposed power of the soup, she kidded that she will immerse her entire head into the pot of soup where she could go blind with the boiling liquid but would not change her mind. In this instance, Caroline demonstrated that she no longer subscribes to Haitian superstition even if sheidentifies with her roots as Haitian which is a characteristic of an individual with hybrid cultural orientation.
To conclude, the concepts of the diaspora is evident in the characters of Hermine and Grace. Diaspora manifested in Hermine’s disapproval with the marriage of Caroline to Eric in her desperate attempt to hold to her Haitian roots. With regard to Grace, she always felt an indentured servant or an outsider in the United States without her citizenship and passport and only felt part of it when she was given a passport. Hybridity is illustrated in the character of Caroline who may still identify herself as Haitian but no longer subscribes to many of its superstition such as disbelieving in the power of the Haitian bone soup to cure or to correct wrong things. She is a hybrid which means that she may identify her roots in Haiti but already subscribes to American values.
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Danticat, Edwidge. Krik! Krak. Soho Press, 1995.