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3. It’s so easy to love somebody, I tell you, when there’s nothing
This comment appears in “Between the Pool and the Gardenias” when
Marie tells Rose about her life. It shows the loneliness of a Haitian woman
who has lost everything. In Marie’s case, her numerous miscarriages and her
unfaithful husband made her so unhappy that she had to leave Ville Rose. She
has no family because her grandmother, from “Nineteen Thirty-Seven,” was
killed for being a witch, and her godmother, Lili, from “A Wall of Fire
Rising,” killed herself when she lost her husband to despair. Nothing good
has happened to Marie, so she looks for any good she can find or invent.
Marie goes so far as to convince herself that the dead baby she finds on the
street is alive and even her own. She is so desperately lonely that she
needs something to love.
Love is vital to survival in the cruel poverty of Haiti. Marie has
lost every other person she has loved and who has loved her, so she tries to
create love in unlikely places. She sleeps with the Dominican pool-cleaner
even though she doesn’t know his name, and she is saddened when he ignores
her. She pretends the dead baby is alive so she can pretend it loves her
back. This need for love is an important motivator in many of the stories.
In “Nineteen Thirty-Seven,” Josephine’s mother looks forward to Josephine’s
visits because they represent a daughter’s love and sustain her even as she
slowly starves to death. Lamort in “The Missing Peace” needs to win her
grandmother’s love by living up to her standards, and she risks her life to
win the affection of her grandmother’s foreign boarders. In “Caroline’s
Wedding,” Grace’s mother clings to the past because her husband still loved
her then. The suffering of loss and hopelessness seem bearable when a woman
has love to support her.