Review of "A Cage of Words" by Joel Dreyfuss

Essay by killjoy004University, Bachelor'sA+, November 2004

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The essay "A Cage of Words" by Joel Dreyfuss discusses how Haiti is portrayed in Western media. Every time Haiti is mentioned in the news it is called "the poorest nation in the western hemisphere." The author says that phrase is seven words that "represent a classic example of something absolutely true and absolutely meaningless at the same time." It is true that Haiti is the poorest nation on this side of the world, but Haiti is so much more than that.

Haiti is poor, and that poverty is almost as inescapable as the labeling of Haiti because of its poverty. That phrase is used as an introduction, or an explanation of why things happen in Haiti. Joel Dreyfuss says that is meant to put everything in context, "Why we have suicidal politics. Why we have such selfish politicians. Why we suffer so much misery. Why our people brave death on the high seas to wash up on the shore of Florida."

However, as it does this is puts Haiti into a "metaphorical prison" that is undeniable and inescapable.

The author things back to when he used to hear older Haitians denying that Haiti was in such bad condition, and although it did not used to be so obvious, the fact is that Haiti has been poor, and been oppressed by "brutal governments." The difference between Haiti and the rest of the world has been that phrase.

As the poorest nation in the western hemisphere much of the great things about Haiti are overlooked or not recognized at all. Joel Dreyfuss compares Haiti to Ireland, Portugal, Brazil and Russia, and shows that all of these countries have created great artists, scholars, and accomplishments, but Haiti's contributions are overshadowed by the "cage of words."

Haiti's word prison denies Haitian accomplishments. It...