EnglishLiterature NotesM A English

Critical analysis of the short story Dream Haiti.

Critical Analysis

By: Naeem Sulehri

Difference between Dream and Reality

A very important aspect of the story is that there is a hell of a difference between the dream and reality. It is a unique and touching writing technique of Kamau Brathwaite. The author tells the readers about a bitter reality through a dream. In the dream, the narrator is a poet but actually, he is a coastguard who laments over the miserable condition of the immigrants who belong to his own homeland, Haiti. His dream is a sort of idealism so far as his desire to be called a poet and his concern for his country fellow are concerned but the word outside is very cruel based on materialism.

Divided between Duty and Patriotism

The narrator, a Haitian citizen who has settled in America is doing the job of a coastguard. He is torn between his duty and love for his country. He feels pity for the Haitian people and wants them to enter American and live a better life. Being a poet by nature he is very much sensitive. He has sympathies for the immigrants but can do nothing for them. He has no authority to change their lot so he dwells deep into his dream and speaks his heart out. He finds himself in a conflict because he neither can stop the people who are his country fellows nor can persuade the authorities to let them in. Though he working as a coastguard he wants himself to be called a poet. He expresses his desire in these words: “I was supposed to be a poet, not a coastguard Gutter, or fireman or one or two others on the deck”.

Ironic Duty of the Coastguard

The coastguards, in every part of the world, are supposed to help the people at sea. Their duty is to save the people from drowning and bring them out of the sea as soon as possible. But our coastguard has a different duty to perform. He has been directed by the authorities to check the illegal immigrants to come out of the water, no matter how grave and serious danger they are confronting with. He is forced to perform his negative type of duty.

Light at the End of Tunnel

While telling about Madame Margaret Eugenia, the narrator speaks of ‘firm political decision’, ‘commanding heights of the economy, ‘level playing field’, and ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Here the reference to’ firm political decision’ is very much suggestive of political decisions, attitudes, and policies of the slave or ex-slave nations.

“who was able to come to a firm political decision pretty soon after that –about commanding heights of the economy and level playing fields and light at the end of the tunnel etc. etc.”

Light at the end of the tunnel is a symbol of the economic prosperity of ex-slave nation like Haiti and other in the world. Here the narrator seems to express an optimistic view that there is a bright day after every dark night.

Metal doors

The doors of economic prosperity have been closed on them in their homeland and in America as well. They have left their homeland for a better future while their entrance into America is being refused to them. They are in a fix, so to speak, they are between the devil and deep sea. So the narrator informs us about the hard reality being faced by the immigrants when he says, “I cd again, I cd hear the long echoing noise of the metal doors clanging shut in our faces.”

In this line, the word ‘metal’, being hard and inflexible, works as a symbol for the hardest economic realities in the modern-day materialistic world.

Symbol of Dream

The last lines of the narrative are very much suggestive. The words ‘court’ and ‘judge’ are symbols of justice the immigrants are desirous to get. ‘Drinking dream’ makes them an embodiment of a dream. They have become dreams from head to toe. They are stopped from entering America. Their dreams are waiting for realization. They are, “drinking dreams and seawater like…”.Neither the dream is not being fulfilled nor is the seawater able to quench their thirst.

People also search for:  Summary of the short story Dream Haiti by Kamau Brathwaite.

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