Crossing the Mangrove by Maryse Conde


“Crossing the Mangrove,” by Maryse Conde is ready in 1986 on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. The story is informed via the eyes of the numerous inhabitants of the island who’re uncomfortable with the arrival of a wierd foreigner who has come to reside amongst them. Francisco Alvarez-Sanchez mysterious story invokes themes of previous and current Caribbean life and tales from the villagers are mixed to attach the fascinating story. The novel displays the Creolite range of the inhabitants of Guadeloupe.

In “Crossing the Mangrove,” a number of recurring themes outstanding in Caribbean life are evident. Colonization and sophistication perspective are amongst the extra dominant themes. Guadeloupe was colonized by France within the 17th century and, like many Caribbean islands, Guadeloupe grew to become a slave buying and selling heart. A narrative informed by the unusual recluse Xantippe exhibits how colonization beliefs of the previous are nonetheless current on the island at this time. As a younger man Xantippe was completely happy go fortunate. This gave the French dominated gendarmes (police) cause to interrogate him. They insinuated that he had enemies and burned his cabin down. Xantippe describes how he misplaced every part and his life was modified for the more severe, without end. This exercise is harking back to Cesaire’s equation: colonization = “thingification.”

Class perspective exists on the island of Guadeloupe however to a lesser extent than within the earlier novels. The Ramsaraz and Lameanes households are upscale. They personal land for farming and flower nurseries. They’ve massive homes and so they drive French constructed Peugeots. Though a peasant and servant inhabitants exists it isn’t featured prominently within the novel. As a substitute, one thing of a center class society contains the bulk class of the characters. Moise the mailman, Emile Etienne the historian, and Lucien Evarist the author are amongst a forged of Francis center class buddies. However it’s assumed that Francis belongs to the higher class because of his tales of journey and journey, his potential to buy the ageing Alexis property, and every day truck deliveries of family home equipment equivalent to a TV set, a fridge, a stereo set. The inhabitants of Riviere au Sel are envious of this and query his occupation and work ethic as a author. They ask, “Was a writer a do-nothing, sitting in the shade for hours on his veranda, staring at the ridge of mountains for hours on end while the rest sweated it out under the Good Lords hot sun.” One should get the sense that the category perspective introduced in “Crossing the Mangrove,” is an efficient illustration of society in Guadeloupe at this time.

Robust themes which are present to Guadeloupe society are that in a male dominated society girls are compelled into the follow of organized marriages. However lots of the girls of Riviere au Sel have contempt towards their estranged husband’s and their fathers who make the weird preparations. Pressured marriages are widespread and primarily based in custom on this island society however oddly sufficient explanations will not be offered as to why a dad or mum would need to marry off their younger and enticing daughters to older males with doubtful intentions. What’s the motivation of the mother and father who participate on this follow? Sure, these males are rich and the younger girls will reside in consolation, however are the mother and father receiving some compensation for his or her beneficiant contribution to the boys? The younger girls all appear to return from households which are effectively established. Do the mother and father think about the trauma and unhappiness their daughters will endure?

In Riviere au Sel, Dinah’s father organized for her to marry Loulou. Dinah was in favor of this however later grew to become repulsed by her husband. Dinah mentioned, “It’s been years since Loulou slept in my bed. Once darkness has fallen I lock my door and curl up like a fetus between my sheets.” Rosa, of Indian respectable, is compelled to marry Sylvester; the follow of organized marriages can be widespread in India the place a social caste system nonetheless exists. In her passage within the novel she desires it to be identified that, “When they married me off to Sylvester Ramsaran, nobody asked for my opinion” and “Sylvester hurt me. He tore me.”

Simply as her Indian mom earlier than her, Vilma’s marriage was to be organized. Vilma’s father Sylvester, organized for her to marry a person named Marins Vindrex. However Vilma revolted by working away from dwelling saying, “Marins Vindrex. But I don’t love him.” Within the final act of vengeance in opposition to her father she took up with the hated Francis Sanchez. Now able to without end poison the appalling marriage to the dreadful Vindrex, she allowed herself to develop into impregnated by Francis. Sylvester is defenseless to behave whereas the questionable motives of Francis intensify amongst the villagers of Riviere au Sel who’re already suspicious of him.

Conde connects the vinettes collectively in “Crossing the Mangrove,” by establishing the connection every villager had with Francis Sanchez because the story progresses. Each member has a powerful opinion or emotion about Francis. A few of these ideas are constructive and a few are destructive. Central to the story is the wake of Francis which is held in Riviere au Sel. It rains lots in Riviere au Sel and on the Thursday afternoon of Francis wake, it was no completely different. The rain appeared to behave on behave of Mom Nature in cleaning the congregation of buddies, enemies, and former lovers who gathered to witness Francis swan tune.

Moise, the mailman is the primary character that Conde gives us with perception into the connection he had with Francis. Oddly sufficient there was some hypothesis in the neighborhood that there could also be a gay relationship involving Moise and the good womanizer Francis Sanchez. “There were wicked sneers. There was something fishy about that friendship and the two men were Makoumeh! (Homosexuals). Adding even more to the oddity is the fact that many considered Moise a “Misgotten freak,” and ‘ugly.’ These allegations apart, the 2 had been buddies however the friendship was awkward and strange. One second we see Moise cradling Francis in his arms when one thing upset Francis. The subsequent second we see Francis accusing Moise of stealing cash from his mysterious trunk.

However Francis additionally had his enemies. Each Loulou Lameaulnes and Sylvester Ramsaran have related causes for despising Francis. Francis had sexual affairs with their daughters impregnating each of them. To those two males Francis was a villain for his indiscretions however in each instances it was the younger girls who approached Francis. Each girls hated their fathers and hated the lives they led beneath their father’s roofs. Maybe the fathers ought to have blamed themselves for forcing their daughters out of their arms and into the mattress of Francis. Vilma and Mira each shared the identical mattress with Francis and each attended his wake. They didn’t converse to one another. Oddly, Loulou and Sylvester had been additionally in attendance and each felt a powerful sense that in Francis demise justice had been served.

The congregation exited the wake with the sober realization that that they had simply mourned for a person that they hardly knew. Francis had that potential. Individuals had been drawn to him however they did not know why. The novel ends with the inhabitants of Riviere au Sel elevating the identical ironic questions on Francis as once they had first laid eyes on him. “Who was Francis Sanchez? And subsequently, “Who was this man that chooses to die amongst us?