Witch-Hunt Theme in “Nineteen Thirty-Seven” by Edwidge Danticat
At times, a story is about a small incident but in order to understand the real meaning of that incident, the historical context and setting of the story are imperative. This is pertinent for “Nineteen Thirty-Seven” by Edwidge Danticat since on the surface the story is about a daughter’s visit to her mother who is incarcerated in a jail in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. However, various flashbacks not only elucidate the setting of the story but also unfold the past incidents that still have deep relevance to the present condition of the characters.
The following excerpt is one of these flashbacks in which Josephine, the daughter, exposes the mystic history of her tale by describing how superstitious beliefs regarding witchcraft used to ruin the lives of many women.
“All of these women were here for the same reason. They were said to have been seen at night rising from the ground like birds on fire. A loved one, a friend, or a neighbor had accused them of causing the death of a child. A few other people agreeing with these stories was all that was needed to have them arrested. And sometimes even killed. (Danticat 33)
In this excerpt, Josephine describes how merely an accusation of some acquaintance with the agreement of a few other people was enough to arrest and even kill women for the crime of witchcraft.
The alleged connection these wo…
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