essay 1 - Margaret Derby Professor Miriam Brown-Spiers...

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Margaret Derby Professor Miriam Brown-Spiers English 1102M 17 September 2010 The Effects of Privilege in “Caroline's Wedding” Webster's Dictionary defines privilege as “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor.” Peggy McIntosh would argue with Webster, saying that his definition does not demonstrate the connotations that our society has placed on the word. McIntosh says “Its connotations are too positive,” and that it “carries the connotation of being something everyone must want” (McIntosh 12). She says that society sees privilege “as being a favored state, whether earned, or conferred by birth or luck” (McIntosh 12). McIntosh disagrees with society though. In her essay “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women's Studies”, she says privilege “confers dominance, gives permission to control, because of one's race or sex” (McIntosh 12). Applying this idea of privilege that McIntosh proposes to “Caroline's Wedding” by Edwidge Danticat, the privilege of being born in America given to Caroline allows her to exert power over her mother and sister as well as diverge from her native Haitian culture. “Caroline's Wedding” enforces Peggy McIntosh's point that privilege is really a way of forcing dominance over others. Just by having the privilege of being born in America, Caroline unknowingly exerts force over her family. The main way she does this is by disrespecting her mother and the Haitian culture.“Caroline had been born in America, something that she very much took for granted”, Danticat says on page 160. She is described as having hair that has been “chemically straightened and streaked bright copper from a peroxide experiment” (Danticat 160), a treatment that is much more American than Haitian. Because she is American, she does not believe in the traditions of the Haitian culture, and she does not respect them. Caroline's mother makes bone soup, which she believes can cure all ills.
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Caroline mocks it saying, “'If she keeps making this soup,. .., I will dip my head into the pot and scald myself blind. That will show her there's no magic in it'”(Danticat 160). The bone soup is a symbol for
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essay 1 - Margaret Derby Professor Miriam Brown-Spiers...

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