A young woman gazes upon her father with eyes of love, built upon the solid years of her childhood. Then he reveals a secret he has carefully hidden, this man so deeply flawed as to render his actions unforgivable. The scar he wears on his face has a terrible history, but in his words the truth is a lie. His life in America is built on deception; though he pardons himself, there are others who damn him every night in their nightmares.
Throughout Edwidge Danticat's The Dew Breaker, we meet evil in all its permutations and those who suffer from its touch, those who have been tortured in prison fortresses, lost to their families. This novel is so perfectly ordered that the people fall into place with each chapter, each introduction, and the infinite connections that bind one life to another. In each facet of her story, the author builds a tale of horror, love, rebelliousness and hope. Danticat’s characters fit precisely into this cautionary tale, touched with myth and memory.
Weaving back and forth through the novel, we sample lives that have been touched by brutal dictatorship and oppression, where helpless women bear “fatherless” children and struggle to eke out the most primitive existence. An island paradise becomes hell under a despot’s reign of terror, freedom suffocated while the starving live on scraps of garbage under a starlit sky of infinite beauty. Over it all hangs a veil of civility. Even after these assorted characters find their way to America, they bear the deep scars of Haiti in their hearts.
In a powerful assemblage of interrelated stories, a chorus of voices hums throughout The Dew Breaker, the heard and the unheard, the “disappeared”, the unborn babies, the women whose voice boxes have been surgically removed, the soft murmur of prayers, the eternal quiet of the dead and the staccato of intermittent gunfire. The contrast is staggering as the author masterfully manipulates good and evil and the grinding reality of life made suddenly transcendent in the bright rays of the morning sun. How stunning, that evil walks so freely through the world, casually touching its victims, then strolls into the quiet evening and a peaceful existence, unexposed.