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Had I Been White - Essay Example

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“In Dakar she had never had to think about the color of her skin” (773), was the description made on Diouana, the main character in Ousmane Sembene’s “Black Girl” when she was the center of harassment by the son of the Pouchet’s and his friends. …
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Had I Been White
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Download file to see previous pages Diouna, a young Senegalese woman was working as a laundress for the Pouchet family stationed in Dakar. When the family decided to take a holiday in France, they took Diouna along with them on the mistaken assumption by Diouana that she has been employed as a governess to the children of the couple. The French couple took advantage of the innocence and the lack of literacy of the black girl that made her lose all her hopes and dreams in coming to France. The scheming way of Madame Pouchet in taking Diouna to France was clearly demonstrated in the story. “In France when she hired a maid not only was the salary higher, but the maid demanded a day off to boot” (770). This was always the dilemma of Madame Pouchet whenever they had their holiday in France. “She had conceived a plan for her next vacation” (770). Her plan was to hire an African girl because she knew that “for three thousand francs a month, any young African girl would have followed her to the end of the earth” (770). Madame Pouchet was set to put up her plan to success by praising the beauty of living in France and by showering Diouana with things such as old clothes and shoes that she knows would be of great necessity on the impoverished condition of Diouana and her family. Diouana fantasizes France as the land where her hope of becoming rich will come true. All she could think of was the “beauty, richness, and the joy of living” (770) in France. For Diouana getting rich would mean the “freedom to go where she wished, without having to work like a beast of burden” (770). This was the set of mind of Diouana that even an advice from Tive Correa, an old sailor who spent twenty years of his life in France, “For Diouana, he predicted nothing but misfortune” (772), was not given any consideration or thought. The youth should listen to the wisdom of experience of the old generation because they have been exposed to the realities of life and they are no longer blinded by their dreams. The courage of Tive Correa to counter the defense of Monsiuer Pouchet: “Certainly. What young African doesn’t dream of going to France?” (772) when the former announced that they did not force Diouana to come with them, was a manifestation of how knowledgeable he was on the real life of the Africans far from their native land. Diouana should have been more sensible when Tive Correa related how young Africans “confuse living in France with being a servant in France” (772). It should have been an eye opener for Diouna when Tive Correa relates that in Casamance, “we say that the darkness pursues the butterfly” (772) and not “the light attracts the butterfly” (772). Realization on her real life in France dawned upon Diouana: “Sold, sold. Bought, bought. They’ve bought me. For three thousand francs I do all this work. They lured me, tied me to them, and I’m stuck here like a slave” (775). There is nothing more crushing to the spirit of one who is dreaming of a good life than knowing that he was deceived. Deceived up to the extent of losing one’s identity – “The neighbors would say: ‘It’s the Pouchets’ black girl . . .’ She wasn’t ‘the African girl’ in her own right, but theirs. And that hurt” (775). It was a very sad state for a person to feel so alone, far from the family who would protect and love and feeling that all hopes are shattered. These conditions usually lead to self-incrimination and will lead to getting angry with oneself and blaming yourself for all the misfortunes. “Her ignorance made her mute. It was infuriating.”(775). The deception of Madame Pouchet was unmasked by Diouana and she detest being lured by her employers. Madame Pouchet’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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