3. It’s so easy to love somebody, I tell you, when there’s nothing else around.
This comment appears in “Between the Pool and the Gardenias” when Marie tells Rose about her life. It shows the loneliness of a Haitian woman who has lost everything. In Marie’s case, her numerous miscarriages and her unfaithful husband made her so unhappy that she had to leave Ville Rose. She has no family because her grandmother, from “Nineteen Thirty-Seven,” was killed for being a witch, and her godmother, Lili, from “A Wall of Fire Rising,” killed herself when she lost her husband to despair. Nothing good has happened to Marie, so she looks for any good she can find or invent. Marie goes so far as to convince herself that the dead baby she finds on the street is alive and even her own. She is so desperately lonely that she needs something to love.
Love is vital to survival in the cruel poverty of Haiti. Marie has lost every other person she has loved and who has loved her, so she tries to create love in unlikely places. She sleeps with the Dominican pool-cleaner even though she doesn’t know his name, and she is saddened when he ignores her. She pretends the dead baby is alive so she can pretend it loves her back. This need for love is an important motivator in many of the stories. In “Nineteen Thirty-Seven,” Josephine’s mother looks forward to Josephine’s visits because they represent a daughter’s love and sustain her even as she slowly starves to death. Lamort in “The Missing Peace” needs to win her grandmother’s love by living up to her standards, and she risks her life to win the affection of her grandmother’s foreign boarders. In “Caroline’s Wedding,” Grace’s mother clings to the past because her husband still loved her then. The suffering of loss and hopelessness seem bearable when a woman has love to support her.