The Farming of Bones begins with narrator Amabelle Desir speaking of her lover, Sebastian Onius. These two Haitians are later separated following the beginning of the 1937 massacre. Amabelle begins a long journey in pursuit of news of her love, and along the way encounters various difficult obstacles.
Explanation of the novel's title
The title The Farming of Bones is alluded to in Chapter 10 when Amabelle refers to the cane life as “travay te pou zo,” or the farming of bones. Working in the cane fields proves to be dangerous and even life-threatening as it scars and mutilates many of the workers. Inundated with references to the past, the story contains many instances where characters are unable to move on. For example, Amabelle constantly dwells upon not only memories of her dead parents, but also memories with Sebastien. In addition, Yves feels guilty for living when Joel saves Yves’s life by pushing him out of the way of Senor Pico’s automobile. Despite being able to survive the massacre and his success in farming, Yves cannot move on, wondering why he was not the one to die not only in the accident, but also during the killings. Furthermore, Don Ignacio fails to forget his involvement in the military regardless of his exile to another country. Decades later, he cannot feel happy for the birth of his granddaughter, for he believes that his losses may be consequences of his past. Many people throughout the story are like this and as a result are like living dead, walking the earth to seek answers to unanswered questions.