The Dew Breaker

Characterization of Macoute in The Dew Breaker

The Dew Breaker, a novel by Edwidge Danticat that tells of Jean-Claude Duvalier’s inherited dictatorship in Haiti, appears to be a novel about two things. On the one hand, it documents the life and trials of a Tonton Macoute, a government sanctioned torturer; on the other hand, it also tells of the cowardice of weak men with great power. The ‘dew breaker’ that is the eponym for the book is constantly characterized by his cowardice, his desire for forgiveness but his inability to ask for it. This conflict that the ‘dew breaker’ has within himself also tends to inspire conflict within the reader. Should one hate him or pity him? Is he unforgivable because of what he has done or is his own fear, coupled with circumstance, truly to blame? After examining the characterization of the ‘dew breaker’ and the situations in which he was placed, it can be inferred that while he may not deserve forgiveness, this man’s obvious pusillanimity makes him pitiable.

The novel begins with the story of Ka, an aspiring young artist and the daughter of the ‘dew breaker’. The ‘dew breaker’ is presented as a simple Haitian barber, an escaped military prisoner with a devotedly Catholic wife and loving daughter. The reader easily falls into step with Ka...

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