By Odile Ferly (auth.)
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Extra info for A Poetics of Relation: Caribbean Women Writing at the Millennium
Similarly because of the authors’ extraction, pre-1970s women’s fiction in the Hispanophone Caribbean centers on white Creole female characters. One early unconventional protagonist is Carmela Eulate Sanjurjo’s Rosario in La muñeca, who truly enjoys the decorative role she has been ascribed by society. Brought up to worship her own image, she indulges in it. Her passion for luxurious dresses and jewelry leads her husband to bankruptcy and suicide. Yet Rosario is not presented as his victimizer: she remains unaware of her husband’s financial situation and suicide.
This new form of prostitution, called jinetería, affects professionals and people from the lower social echelons alike. 26 Although each island has its distinct social makeup, the similarities across social and geographical settings between the fates of the female characters discussed here are striking. This pan-Caribbean reading thus points to a systemic androcentrism of Caribbean societies that transcends national specificities. Indeed, the widespread notion that attributes abysmal gender relations in the region to patterns developed under slavery is invalidated by the similarities observed in literature from across the region, including where mass scale slavery came late and was relatively short-lived, as in some of the Hispanophone Antilles.
Nevertheless, her path to liberation is hardly exemplary. Minimal son too depicts an increasing awareness along generations. Unlike Luisa, driven to madness by lifelong mistreatment, Emilia and Elsa rebel in middle age, and Ángela and Sandra are much quicker in reaching emancipation and personal growth. Yet Ángela’s liberation remains limited, for it relies entirely on an authoritative man, Diego, who clearly adheres to sexist gender roles in his own marriage and shows little sign of change. Nevertheless, Ángela’s illicit affair with a man twice her age defies family and social conventions.