All roads lead home: Crossroads as ritual in the select works of Edwidge Danticat, 2020

Atlanta University and Clark Atlanta University Theses and Dissertations
All roads lead home: Crossroads as ritual in the select works of Edwidge Danticat, 2020
White, Joyce
Contributor to Resource:
Black, Daniel
Date of Original:
Degrees, Academic
Dissertations, Academic
United States, Georgia, Fulton County, Atlanta, 33.749, -84.38798
This dissertation examines how the existence and purpose of ritual in three fictional works by Edwidge Danticat—The Dew Breaker, The Farming of Bones, and Claire of The Sea Light— create textual topography that heals and clarifies Africana consciousness. In particular, the investigation into ritual in this undertaking is filtered through the symbolic iconography of the cosmogram, an ancient image with modern articulations following the four moments of the sun: Luvempa, Musoni, Kala, and Tukala. I argue that, representative of the soul’s contiguous movement through the cosmos, the cosmogram is imbued with the cosmological underpinnings of the Bakongo people, which has left an indelible mark throughout the diaspora. As such, the cosmogram acts as a container for ancient beliefs about life and death and ancient practices that reify these beliefs for a people in their daily lives. In particular, the cosmogram’s cosmological and philosophical iterations within the life and existence of Africana people establish set systems and beliefs that are manifest through ritual practices. Emblemed by the cruciform symbol of the crossroads, the cosmogram emanates extendable textual space, liminal space, ritualized by the inscription of the symbol that exists within and without the boundaries of pagination. The extension of textual space expands the borders and boundaries of a given text and provides additional space for contemplation and ruminations incongruent to those spaces in its common and normal iterations. Collectively, The Dew Breaker, Claire of The Sea Light, and The Farming of Bones employ the cosmogram as a framework to engender spaces within the novel structure where the contemplation Africana consciousness can occur. Utilizing the principles of the cosmogram to extend the textual landscape, the three novels work together in reconstructing the points or positions on the cosmogram. Each novel is representative of a point or moment of the cosmogram and their combined textual movement leads to the fourth point, the apex of their collective meaning, higher Africana consciousness.
Date of award: 2020-05
Degree type: dissertation
Degree name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Granting institution: Clark Atlanta University
Department: Department of Humanities
Advisor: Black, Daniel
Metadata URL:
Holding Institution:
Clark Atlanta University
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