The Social Distancing of Edwidge Danticat's "New York Day Women"

By Julia Kadlec-Wagner.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: January 16, 2015 $US5.00

This paper examines the tenets of Homi Bhabha’s post-colonial theory of Hybridity which asks us to accept the “Third Space of Enunciation” as our ultimate destination, the point of arrival in current cultural studies that “eludes the politics of polarity”. This paper examines how Bhabha’s hybridity theory comes in and out of focus in Edwidge Danticat's short story “New York Day Women”. Do any of Danticat’s characters achieve the “other of themselves”? A contrast character to that of Danticat’s Suzette is “Girl” written by Jamaica Kincaid. Kincaid’s “Girl’ is examined to help this query. Additionally, this paper will examine Danticat’s “Day Women” from a cultural perspective and question the meaning of the plural title “Day Women” in present day American society. Using hybridity as a frame, what are the inter- and intra- racial dimensions created within the story, and what are the possible thematic messages there? Danticat uses the terms “shame and fear” within the story from a psychosocial perspective, and therefore, the terms cannot be ignored. This paper also attempts to draw conclusions about the severe tensions of Pan-African relocation which permeate the story derived from those terms. Whether or not Bhabha’s theory of Hybridity is attained in Danticat’s characters will be the main query here. And like his concept which itself is vast, compelling, at times enigmatic and optimistic; there is evidence of the concept in some characters examined here, but not all of them.

Keywords: Edwidge Danticat, Homi Bhabha - Hybridity Theory, Cultural Criticism

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 13, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.11-17. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: January 16, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 527.642KB)).

Prof. Julia Kadlec-Wagner

Lecturer, Academic and Creative Writing, School of Humanities, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey, USA

Professor Julia Wagner is an Instructional Specialist in the First-Year Writing Program at Montclair State University; she previously taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Brooklyn College while pursuing her MFA in Poetry. Her work has appeared in Lungfull!, Nexus Magazine, The Brooklyn Review, and Praxilla’s online poetry journal. She also holds a Certificate to Teach Writing and does so with a focus on Academic Writing, Modern Literature, and contemporary cultural issues. She is working on several writing projects that differ in theme and genre: Relational Ethics, Poetry of Mnemonics and Place Memory, Edwidge Danticat and the idea of social distancing, and a critique on Michael Weilacher’s IXI for an Imaginary Film for piano solo. She began her career in publishing and worked for architecture and design magazines such as Metropolis and Elle, where she was Director of Sales, Northeast Division. Wagner is a member of the College Women's Club of Montclair.