EnglishLiterature NotesM A English

Summary of Dream Haiti by Kamau Brathwaite.


By: Naeem Sulehri, M Aslam Warriach 

The story opens with the narration of a coastguard’s dream. The narrator is the protagonist of the story. He is a Haitain citizen working as a coastguard in America.  In his dream, he sees the ship was moving in the sea of a gray slate color. “The sea was like slate grey of what was left of my body and the white waves.” The ship was loaded with “the Haitian Refugees” who wanted to enter American for their brighter future. The narrator tells that the ship was moving but they were going nowhere which means that they would be stopped entering America. “I mean we were not going anywhere and although the ship was moving.”

The coastguard being a man of reflective nature assumed himself to be a poet in his dream while in reality, he was working as a coastguard. His duty was to stop Haitian people to enter America, the people who wanted to come to America to earn their livelihood. He cherished a notion that people should have called him a poet. “I was suppose to be apoet, not a coastguard Gutter, or fireman or one or two others on the deck”. The narrator, as a poet, had imagined himself roaming about in strange lands, the lands, perhaps, created by his imaginations only.

He tells us about the condition of the people he met on board during his dream. There was a sense of alienation among the people though they were facing the same dilemma of homelessness. They had left their homeland with the hopes of a better future but are stopped entering into their desired land. “ S we was all standing there in that kind of windy silence of this dream-not close together of course since we was all artists and strangers to each other and not soldiers and or sailors or dwarfs as I have to go on insisting even though we was all on the same trip..”

The narrator also tells us about the mineable condition of the people onboard. They were penniless and unable to pay their bills. The description of the ship reveals that the people onboard are more than the capacity of the ship as it often happens in such cases of illegal immigration. “…we wd find ourselves like fallin hard on the deck or not bein able to pay our homage or balance our bills and pitching forward or sideways towards the railings….”

After this, he dreams of some important lady named Madame Margaret Eugenia who was perhaps a political figure. He remembers having listened to that lady when he was a child. He recalls some kind of help extended to the farmers from Madame Margaret Eugeina.  Talking about her the narrator says, “ 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.” The narrator seems to miss nothing in his dream. So much so he sets in the frame of his dream Columbus’ arrival in America in 1492. This historical reference to the discovery of America serves the purpose of highlighting the fact that once America was too resting beyond the world. Once her people were also as helpless as the Haitian citizens are now. Being a man of poetic nature the narrator might be thinking if the Americans can prosper, why the Haitians are not being given a chance to do so.

At the end of the story, the narrator tells that the people on-board were desirous to reach the US courts, “they said nothing at all but just went lobbying by with their heads up and down in the cover of water and their arms still vainly trying to reach Maimi and Judge Thomas and the US Supreme Court and their mouths wide open drinking dream and seawater like…”, “ All over and over again while we stood on the soft-hard deck of the coast Guard ‘Impeccable’/watching them poem.” They are waiting to reach the court in order to get justice and permission to stay in America for earning their livelihood.

People also search for: Critical analysis of Kamau Brathwaite’s short story Dream Haiti.

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