A Review of the Book Calabash Parkway

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At first glance, Dr. Brenda DoHarris’ Calabash Parkway appears to be a novel about a Guyanese woman meeting an old friend from her native land, in New York, after several years. Upon further reading, the novel has resilient records of feminism in the protagonists Agatha, Evadne, and Gwennie. The three are emasculated by poverty, neglect, and abuse. Living in a masculinized country the three women refuse to succumb to their struggles of life. These powerless characteristics of the three young women are overcome after immigrating to New York and Canada. The first reflection of feminism is ‘Gatha’s life of poverty. “The shadow of political tyranny and economic malaise loomed over the country” (DoHarris 6)1.Those living in Guyana struggled to afford the daily necessities of life. “Classically, political and cultural superstructure rests on the foundation of economic substructure, and not the other way round. In other words, the social (or anti-social) behavior of our people is a function of our economic well being according to most theorists. Hence, any government, even that of Guyana, has the power and resources to influence the social behavior through effective economic policies, and can shift these resources to areas where it wishes to have political influence. Unfortunately, the government behaves as if it is politics (of the PNC) that influences the economic, and hence the political destiny of our country. (But Guyana, like other plural societies, is stressed with ethnic polarization and concomitant violence.) Professor Thomas tried to prove the nexus between the two structures but unfortunately his statistical analysis was as skewed and suspect as that of Dr. Misir’s, and thus his conclusion was as damaging as that of Dr. Misir’s” (Sukhdeo, para 5). Dr. DoHarris articulates how ‘Gatha is heartbroken from the loss of a child and the love of her life, Eustace, with whom she has two sons. After the desertion of Eustace she will meet and marry Leon, though not in love with him. The two will have twin girls in this union. ‘Gatha’s actions echo her struggles as a married, mother of four children living impoverished in 'Guyana’s small town of Kitty where education is essentially for the rich and jobs are hard to come by. Her husband Leon, a taxi driver in the town of Kitty, has unwillingness to leave Guyana despite their living conditions. Working as a seamstress for Eunice, a Guyanese entrepreneur, availed ‘Gatha a way out of poverty. Knowing that ‘Gatha and Leon were not financially stable, Eunice provides ‘Gatha the opportunity to travel with her to the US. ‘Gatha accepts the offer to assist Eunice to New York for a second opinion, which will circumstantially lead her to new life apart from her family. “Eunice’s call would prove the old Creole saying that “God doan come, but ‘e does sen’ ” (16). Accepting the offer to travel reflects an act of feminism. ‘Gatha has no idea that she’s not going to be returning to Kitty. “… years of want and uncertainty in Kitty, …all pushed her in the direction of staying (27). “Her methods of getting into the U.S. and surviving are quite understandable and justified, (at least by Guyanese) (Sukhdeo para. 7). Dr. DoHarris expounds on how ‘Gatha moves in with an old friend from Kitty, Evadne, and seeks employment. This act enables her to become the main provider of her family. After finding a housekeeping job, she eventually gets her own apartment. While most men defect to the US to provide a better life for their family, ‘Gatha has to step into the role of provider, sending money and clothes to Guyana for her husband and children as a means of support. “For the women, it wasn't until they met Jim Jones and joined Peoples Temple that their personal power and institutional influence matched their desire to make a difference in the world” (Maaga 55). Leon stated that, “every Tom, Dick and Jack Rabbit tryin’ to get on a flight out uh dis place”, and not taking full cognizance of the cost of...
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