Chapter 4 indicated that Caribbean culture is premised on gender roles. The theme of motherhood and patriarchy are prevalent in this reading, where women are showcased in domestic roles that define their place in society. For instance, the author notes that Rubiera never wanted her children to be anything more than what society expected of them. He wants them to grow into responsible women who would run their households, even though the mother does not wish the same for her daughters. The theme of motherhood is intertwined with traditional gender roles. In this case, a mother is someone who would do anything for her children. She dreams and sacrifices for them, so that they are more than what was. Reyita says that she wants her children to be something in life, and hopes to break the traditions of gender roles (142). The theme of motherhood is also prevalent when Reyita describes her divorce from Rubiera. She had to be independent of his misogyny to facilitate the development and education of her children. The same illustrates life in the Caribbean, where women are second-class citizens who must strive for their freedom and ambitions.
Additionally, the economy was a significant part of Caribbean culture. It was designed to suit the poverty being experienced by many individuals at the time. In this case, the economy relied on small businesses that catered to the average person. For example, Reyita described buying everything in installments (146). All the businesses allowed their customers to pay small amounts because times were difficult. Even Reyita had a business that catered to the low-income community, where she would serve food to street vendors and prostitutes at a low price.
The theme of diversity does not showcase the racial discrimination that was part of the culture in the Caribbean. Reyita talks about her friend, a white woman, who was a seamstress. They enjoyed the same things, and would spend their days laughing together and teaching one another various skills. The seamstress would tell her that poor people deserved decent dressing, thus illustrating her empathy for others. Hence, the situation described illustrates that whites would often mingle with their black counterparts without any fear or consequences. The situation does not help to highlight the discrimination faced by blacks in the Caribbean. They were more inferior to their white counterparts, which makes the theme of diversity seem misplaced in the story. Indeed, slavery was something that classified society into two, and created a persistent state of inequality. Therefore, the story does not exemplify the same by showcasing how diverse this society was.
One of the most significant lessons from Chapter four is the value of hard work, especially among women. The chapter is a mixture of both melancholic and triumphant tones. The narrator is celebrating her success as a woman who managed to transform the lives of her family. She ensured the education of her children, built a business, and changed her life for the better. Hence, the reader can note a proud tone as she narrates her accomplishments. At the same time, Reyita feels melancholic as she reminisces about her struggles. She indicates that the life of a black woman in the Caribbean was not easy. However, instead of depending on others for survival, the women would find ways of earning their living. The results of hard work were satisfying and provided a sense of independence that every woman needed.
The testimonial genre is quite interesting because it provides a glimpse into important periods in history. It allows the reader to visualize what took place in these eras due to the attention to detail, facts, and truth-telling. It taught me the importance of having a voice and a personal perspective of historical events.
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