English 1121 (Prof. Scanlan)
‘New York Day Women’ Literary Research Paper
“New York Day Women” by Edwidge Danticat focuses primarily on a mother and daughter who immigrated to the U.S from Haiti. Suzette (the daughter) is on a lunch break in Manhattan when she catches her mother out and about. This throws Suzette off guard because according to her, her mother has never left Brooklyn and is wary about taking the train. Suzette follows her mother around to see what she’s up to.
In the article “Oral narrative as short story cycle: forging community in Edwidge Danticat’s Krik? Krak!”, Rocio G. Davis dives into topics such as motherhood, womanhood, class issues and much more. While Rocio G. Davis’ article dives into those topics, “Mothering the Motherless: Portrayals of alternative mothering, practicing within the Caribbean diaspora” by Amanda Putnam adds the focus of identifying one’s self along with motherhood. Both articles share a strong message of motherhood, feminism, class issues and self-empowerment. With these documents, I will show how “New York Day Women” exhibits self-awareness and feminist ethics which the main character goes through due to the help of her mother with the article by Amanda Putnam. After this, I will go into detail about the strong sense of motherhood and feminist ethics in “New York Day Women” with Rocio G. Davis’ article.
Throughout the story Suzanne’s recalls bits of advice and messages that her mother use to give her throughout her lifetime. Through her mother’s guidance and counsel Suzanne becomes enlightened towards the end of the short story. For instance, in “Mothering the Motherless: Portrayals of alternative mothering, practicing within the Caribbean diaspora” Amanda Putnam states “Merle Hodge’s Crick Crack Monkey and Edwidge Danticat’s “Krik? Krak!”, offer similar collective mothering practices, showing women within a community nurturing daughters whose mothers are absent. Their purpose is to help the daughters acquire qualities which will allow them to develop into strong adult women” (Putnam 1). Even though Suzette’s mother in “Day Women” (apart of Krik? Krak!) was not an absent parent, her mother gave her advice and taught her about life lessons that makes Suzette reflect on her life. This results in her becoming a better woman. For example, in the short story “New York Day Women” Suzette’s mothers asks her if she would give her seat up for an elderly lady. Suzette’s says sometimes she does but, sometimes she doesn’t. In the third paragraph she says “My mother, who is often right about that. Sometimes I get up and give my seat. Other times, I don’t. It all depends on how pregnant the woman is and whether or not he is sitting down” (Danticat 1). However, at the end of the short story when Suzette is done with her reminiscent thoughts of her mother, she self reflects and decides that when she takes the subway from that day forward, she will give up her seat for an elderly lady or a woman who was pregnant. This not only shows self-awareness but the presence of feminist ethics. She takes consciousness of her actions and who she is and then changes her actions. The feminist ethics kicks in when she finds a newfound appreciation for women. I say this because she doesn’t just say she’s going to give up her seat for and elderly woman like her mother but also a pregnant woman. Feminist ethics is a type of ethic that values women and that is what Suzette did at the end of the short story.
In “Oral narrative as Short Story Cycle Forging Community in Edwidge Danticat’s Krik? Krak!” by Rocio G. Davis, the speaker emphasizes motherhood and feminist ethics within his article. The article says “Corollary to this, the story entitled ‘New York Day Women’ has a daughter watching, unobserved, as her mother makes her way from her home in Brooklyn, to Madison Avenue where in Central Park she cares for a young child while her Yuppie mother goes jogging : ‘This mother of mine, she stops at another hot-dog vendor and buys a frankfurter that she eats on the street. I never knew that she ate frankfurters… Day women come out when nobody expects them’ (150,153). Both stories emphasize the different worlds mothers and children inhabit while linking their mothers. Furthermore, issues of race and class oppression suggested in both stories serve as factors that complicate maternal relationships because they lead the mothers to find ways of surviving or of asserting independence they cannot, or will not, share with their children” (Davis 76). This quotation from the article highlights motherhood in “New York Day Women” because it correlates with Suzette’s mother taking care of other people’s children but also touches on the mothership that Suzette’s mom has with her daughter. For example, Rocio G Davis talks about how Suzette’s mother didn’t tell her daughter about her day job which affected her relationship with her child. Even though, Suzette found a new appreciation for her mother I am pretty sure she still wondered why her mother never told her anything about her babysitting job.
The speaker also shows feminist ethics within his article when he states “In a note distributed by her publisher, Danticat defines the challenge she set herself: “I look to the past to Haiti-hoping that the extraordinary female story tellers I grew up with the ones that have passed on will choose to tell their stories through my voice. For those of us who have a voice must speak to the present and the past” (qtd. in Casey 525-26). Danticat’s narrative presents the voices and visions of women, usually mothers and daughters, whose personal tragedies impel them to form community in the midst of oppression and exile” (Davis 68). This shows feminist ethics because it shows how Edwidge Danticat’s writing displays how women overcome persecution and expulsion. She shows woman in a strong light that does not conform into traditional normative ethics.
The writing of Edwidge Danticat is a writing that is not common to find. She writes with experience, emotion and warmth. With “New York Day Women” she manages to teach the readers a lesson or two about self-assurance and respect whether the reader be man or woman. “New York Day Women” did an excellent job of publicizing self-empowerment, motherhood, and feminist ethics.