Merle Hodge ‘In the life of Laetitia’, published in 1994 by Farrar Straus Giroux of New York; Paperback, Aerial Fiction, 244 pages. The Novel was written by Merle Hodge a Trinidadian novelist and critic, she’s a lecturer at the University of the West Indies, she’s also the Author of the 1970 novel ‘Crick Crack, Monkey’, which is a classic of West Indian literature. The story is about an adolescent girl (Laetitia) who begins on a life changing journey, after successfully passing the common entrance exams that enables her to attend the government secondary school in La Puerta. It was a dream come true, as no other member of her family had an opportunity to obtain a secondary education. It bring to life the different cultural practices and norms such as food, holidays, language usage that is true not only the story but also reality of life in Trinidad. ‘In the life of Laetitia’, is my first encounter with the book and its’ author. The cover depicts an adolescent girl with a smile on her face yet a sad demure, as the image tells a hidden story about the life of Laetitia. It is an interesting and captivating story, in which Caribbean people can relate, that tells the story of the life of a Trinidadian girl who had struggles, challenges and changes on embarking on a new life’s journey. Laetitia relationship with her father Mr. Orville Cephas was never a normal parent child relationship. He was an estrange father, Laetitia never got the opportunity to have a relationship with him due to his choosing. He never supported her financially or otherwise. Laetitia did not see him as her father and because of that there was a strain on the present existing relationship that was practically force upon her.
Laetitia saw her father as a means to an end and nothing more due to poverty conditions, an opportunity her family cannot afford to refuse. She didn’t show her true feelings at once or did she hide her contempt towards him. It often comes out when she address him as Mr. Cephas or sir, and her father realized this and made him uneasy, which ended in him showing his true nature. I believed if he had a different demure and approach the situation would have been a much pleasant one, giving him an opportunity to make amends for his deeds in the past.
How Mr. Cephas can expect a normal relationship? We see this happen a lot in the past and continue to happen no matter the age or era in our Caribbean Society. An absentee or
nonexistent father, which appears out of nowhere to take credit and praise for their forgotten children hard work and success in life. It was obvious that he Mr. Cephas was not going to succeed on this count. Often times these relationships are very difficult and impossible to slavish; which affect not only the individuals involve but the entire family structure, which contribute to an increase in single family within our society.
There are similarities between the relationship of indigenous settlers and those of the European invaders, where they had expected the Neo-Indians in particular the Kalinago (Caribs) to accept and adjust and accept the intrusion. The Caribs resisted and fought back defining their territories and for this they were stereotype as warlike.
Laetitia’s father believed that respect was due to him as the father, often times he was uncertain how to approach her and that was also a contributory factor within their strain relationship. In fact, Lacey wish her father could drop dead, which shows the hatred she felt towards him. On page 165 shows the contempt lacey felt towards her father, (I went and sat behind the music room, starting into space and thinking how I would like to see Mr. Cephas dead. I picture a car accident, with his car so mashed up that you couldn’t tell the front from the back. Or he could die from some sickness. He could get a stroke and drop down dead in his office).
Mr. Orville Cephas never really wanted any kind of real...