Cane River

How does Suzette display the theme of dreams and dreaming?


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The women of the story are living incredibly difficult lives, especially going back to the beginning of the story and looking at Elisabeth, Suzette, Palmire and Philomene during their years as slaves. Suzette is taken from the slave quarters as a young child and raised in the plantation house, where she serves as "nurse" and companion to the young lady of the house. This could account for some of Suzette's dreams, but it seems just as likely that the desire to create a better life for herself is an integral part of her personality. Suzette's dream of a better life is, from an early age, that she will marry in a large church as her godmother had done. Suzette's dreams are likely fueled by the fact that she's told by the mistress of the house that she can rise above the slaves in the quarter if she works hard.

When Suzette is forced into a relationship with a white man and bears two children by this man, she knows that her dreams of marrying are gone, but holds to the idea that Philomene might make a better life for herself. An important part of the lives of these women is their work for their white masters. Elisabeth, Philomene and Suzette each work very hard, rushing from task to task with determination. While some slaves obviously feared retribution, these women seem driven to perform their best in their roles, though their jobs are thankless and their masters often demanding and hateful. These women, even when life deals them heartache of separation, seem to hold to the dream of families brought together, health, happiness, and later, of freedom. Philomene has what is referred to as "glimpses" of the future. Whether these are real is left to the reader to decide. It seems evident that, regardless of whether these are fact, the visions are sometimes used by Philomene to reassure herself and members of family that their dreams of happiness are going to come true.


BookRags, Cane River