Review of "Haiti: A Cigarette Burning at Both Ends" written by Marie Ketsia Theodore-Pharel

Essay by killjoy004University, Bachelor'sA+, November 2004

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One of the short stories in The Butterfly's Way that I enjoyed was "Haiti: A Cigarette Burning at Both Ends" written by Marie Ketsia Theodore-Pharel. The story starts with the disturbing account of how a trip to buy school clothes was interrupted by the corpse of a Haitian man who had soaked himself in gasoline and set himself on fire. The man was Haitian 56 year old Antoine Thurel.

The man left behind a sign in French that translated to, "Because of many difficulties and my family and religious responsibilities, I want to offer myself in holocaust for the complete liberation of my country...May Haiti live for the new liberation." The author went on to name some of the brave Haitian heroes that had given their lives throughout the years, and added Antoine Thurel's name to that list.

The wording of that opening scene seems to hold a lot of significance.

The body was said to look like "a badly sprayed swastika" a well known symbol of hate around the world. It also said that "the most visible part of him now were his scorched legs, the unbending knees raised toward the sky." I might be reading too much into but I love the symbolism of the unbent knees. It is almost saying that even in his despair and death this Haitian man did not give up, or give in.

The story then progresses and introduces the idea that some people have said that "Haiti is a cigarette burning at both ends." The author was troubled and at first confused by this idea, and what it meant in light of the death of Antoine Thurel. As the author thought back about her childhood she remembered several examples to support her realization that "...