The novel Through it All, by Giselle Mills, plays a significant role in highlighting fundamental issues faced by the Carribean family. This interesting read is set on the island of St. Kitts, and gives a realistic depiction of 21st century Caribbean life. This easy read story revolves around Andreide Melissa D’Averette, a 16-year-old girl, black girl and her family. As the plot unravels the themes of beauty, gender roles social status, and culture are developed and insights are gained into the Caribbean family dynamics. The interactions between the rich and poor, is especially engaging as well as how race contributes to the social and economic structure of the island.
Central to being a woman in the Carribbean context is assuming the role of motherhood. However, as a result of childbirth, many women lose their sex appeal. In the case of Rose Marie, she gained an astounding forty pounds during the course of her marriage. In so doing, not only did she lose her waistline but her sex appeal too. Rose Marie is aware of the impact her fit body is having on younger men and she is enjoying the attention. Prior to acquiring wife status, many women take great delight in exercise however, in taking on a husband and all that this entails many women neglect themselves physically and emotional. This is evident through Rose Marie’s character. This observation is typical though for it is noted that when a woman becomes a mother, it seems that she is expected to disown herself because the idea is that she is giving up who she is for a title that is far superior --Mother! It is the cultural norm but is this ideally what she needs for a sustained self worth? NO! A firm, curvy, body pivotal to shaping the identity of the Caribbean woman.
Cheryl Albury in her poem, “Superwife” asked, “Did you see her? The question here is applicable because although Rose has lost fourty pounds her husband totally unaware. Roses’ husband is fast asleep literally and figuratively. Although Rose has transformed her life in a major way i. e she has a book deal, and is getting attention from strange men. According to the narrator, he has yet to “pay her a decent compliment.” Certainly Charles D’Averette was not only stingy with his money but also with his compliments. Clearly, the marriage has lost its fire and divorce is imminent. Yet, the two hold on because in the Caribbean context sticking with a mate regardless of whether they meet our needs is honorable. Rose and Andrenide both regard Charles with great disdain. Charles also does little to engage his wife and daughter emotionally or intellectually. For this reason they regard him as dead weight to them both.
The media plays a major role in shaping our concept of beauty. In this novel Alisa spends a lot of her time reading Ebony magazines. It is typical to find black women who possess more Eurocentric features. It is not surprising that Andreide obsesses about having the right complexion. She wants to be brown and not black because the lighter in complexion we are, the more attractive the world sees us. Andreide puts a lot of time into wearing clothing that shows off her slim complexion because slim is preferred over fat. Slim is attractive and fat is unattractive according to the standards set by the media. Unlike the men in this story, the females seem to be very consumed about their physical appearance while the men are “lethargic and fat”.
Upper middle class families typical have less children than those who are working class. This is evident with Alisa’s family. By extention it is not surprising that couples who have fewer children experience greater prosperity while couples who have larger families stay more on the poorer end of the spectrum. Another aspect of the Carribbean identity is the desire to relocating to the United States. Migration plays a major role in the lives of Upper Middle class familes who typically enjoy larger homes and yard space. Those of the upper middle class appear to be more resourceful in the acquisition of materials things. For example, Alisa was able to use her family’s connections to obtain a special made jersey whereas Andrenide had to content herself that the store had sold out of the product.
A sign of social health and prosperity is that the family attend weekly church services. In most carribean society’s church going is apart of the Caribbean identity. This is revealed when Eugenia Richardson smiles back at Rose Marie as to say, “Hah, at least my husband is always at church with me and my ten million children.” Rose Marie has the misfortune of not only arriving to church late but arriving without her husband. To her fellow churchgoers, this is a sign that all is not well at home.
Another aspect of the carribean identity that speaks volumes to social status is attire. According to the novel, “Andreide noted the attire of the other guests and felt self-conscious.” (Mills 31) First-class restaurants are virtually out of reach for the D’Averettes, since they just cannot afford such luxuries. This line highlights the aspect of social class for the D’Averettes. Mills succeeds in portraying that although the St. George’s community does not explicitly discriminate, people are conscious of the stratification therein and tend to respond as expected. This is evident by the attitude of the hostess who regarded the family with a condescending manner because they are not attired in a manner that was indicative of an Upper Social standing. In the Bahamian context attire plays a fundamental role in shaping people’s perception of us. A well dressed woman or man is a sign of success and prosperity.
The dilemma some women find themselves in, despite how hard they work is revealed by the complacency of spouses who rely on them to take care of the family. Mills helpfully contrasts indolent and irresponsible men like D’Averette and Peter to men who are willing to establish themselves in the society like Victor. Through this text Mills shows that men not only exploit their wives but also many men want their wives support in having children out of wedlock. In a twist of events, it appears that D’Averette has been hoarding money all along in a secret account while living at the expense of his wife (Mills 454). As a result, Mills captures the day to day events that take place in St. George’s Parish. She expertly delves into the private lives of husbands and wives.
Although Rose Marie, bears the financial burden of the family, she is still loyal to an ungrateful husband. Even when an opportunity arises to engage in an affair with Victor, her publicist, she declines his over. She confesses to Victor that she is going to leave her husband since after twenty years of marriage she cannot withstand the relationship anymore (Mills 456). Although the divorce process is stormy at best, Rose Marie can get out of the entire process a better person and with a better man, Victor. Both mother and daughter unexpectedly end up dating people from a higher social-economic class.