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Campus News / News

Loko Miwa book-Zombie and Vodou- Kaylynn Larson

11/06/2019 7:06 pm

Kaylynn Larson

The Book Loko Miwa contains a mix of social class standards, love, romance, religious struggles, death, monsters, and power. Throughout the book, you follow a stubborn free-willed young woman torn in half. There are powers inside her that cause chaos in her home as well as the city she calls home. Expectations of what or how she is to act and those around her lead to a death that is of the body but not the soul. A forbidden love that leads to jail and sadness. As well as Monsters thought out the book that attempts to conquer and eradicate free will. However, the power of the “Marassa” is so durable not even death could keep specific characters apart, in the end, reviving a bond that not even the slippers of death could separate. 

This book from beginning to end is drenched in foreshadowing. Throughout the journey of each character, you get hints of death, despair, and longing. There are parts where specific religions and gods get introduced that foreshadow to events and conflicts that arise. There is a passage in the book that speaks of a disturbed man that the spirits communicate with, he is rambling on of a son returning home, and with this return death, despair, rage is what will follow in his wake. Once the character is home, each one of the characteristics stated starts to unfold. There is a forbidden love that stereotypically always ends in either death or despair, and this story unfolds in the same manner. Rage was another foreshadowed emotion. This son returns, and more than one character, he comes into contact experiences rage. Lastly, the foreshadowing of death from beginning to end is heavy in much of the story. The tale unfolds with the death of a child, the death of a future bride, and the never-ending death of the zombie.

A common theme throughout this novel seems to be power; the power of a social class, the power of a religious entity, the power of their ancestors, and the power as a female Haitian. There is a strong correlation of feminine power within the religion of voodoo, as well as female power in the private home life. The private sector in this novel reflects significantly on the theology of voodoo. Throughout the book, Violaine is referred to as being like an animal, wild and sexual. In the high society that she due to her skin color was born into, is expected not to flaunt this in public. The Haitian women with light skin are to act proper, obedient, and respectful. However, there are multiple passages in the novel where Violaine mixes the private sector and the public sector bringing on disrespect to her family. Within the society, if Violaine would have been born more like Cocotte with the dark skin and of the common people, this would not be an issue. Being that she is from a well-respected, financially stable light-skinned family, it is expected that her actions are to be pious, and modest like a “good catholic woman.” Violaine seems always to do the exact opposite; she is wild, sensual, and tends to show her religious preference of voodoo to the community outwardly. Pushing her disapproving dictator of a mother to confide in the other elderly women of the family, she chooses to stay within her social class and assisted by Violaine’s betrothed, ends up silencing the wild beast within her. 

The women, at this point, rely on the private sector religion and take away the essence of femininity that makes Violaine who she is. The power within the Haitian family seems to be heavily reliant on the female, especially when it comes to the religious practice behind closed doors. Upon entering the public eye, a woman is expected to know her place, be seen and not heard, and to follow the catholic way of obedience. The reader gets to see both a strong presence of power for women as well as the lack of respect outside of the home that they receive also. Sexuality is also not to be expressed outside the confines of one’s bedroom. Violaine, throughout the book, shatters this expectation as well. She makes love to Alexandre in a field; like an animal, she also masturbates with a tree near the end to revive her inner self. The only time she is a prisoner to her sexuality and maintains the expectations of her social class and the “normal sexual setting” is when she is in a zombified state and raped by Phillip.

Throughout the novel, our western ideas of ethics are thrown out the window. Rape seems to be an accepted occurrence to the women of this time in Haiti. There does not seem to be any repercussions to a man having his way with women. Especially if they are in a higher social class or are lighter-skinned, this appears to be an issue throughout history, and it is not just in the impoverished parts of the world. As history has progressed, the act of rape is being punished more frequently, and women are getting their power back. The power of a woman to choose who she is, and what she does with her body is finally in the open. I think this book has many messages about women empowerment, and marching to one’s own drum would be very relatable to the school’s community. This book emphasized Violaine’s journey and fought to stay true to who she believed she is. In the end, after the world took everything from her, she still ended up being the wild and beautiful beast she always knew she was.