The Dew Breaker – Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Edwidge Danticat

The Dew Breaker

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The Dew Breaker – Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 3: “Water Child”

This chapter is about a woman named Nadine. At the beginning of the chapter’s story, she receives a letter from her parents: they thank her for sending money and they beg her to call them. It is clear that they live in Haiti, while she is now in America. The “near-calligraphic” handwriting of the letter suggests that while the parents depend upon her for money, they are educated and dignified people. The money seems necessary in part because of an illness on her father’s part.
Next, we witness Nadine at work as a hospital nurse and we realize, by the fact that she is eating alone, that she keeps her distance from her fellow employees. Only one fellow worker, Josette, feels brave enough to talk with her.

At home after work, Nadine sits in front of her television, which she uses to numb her emotions. The lone message on her answering machine is from a former boyfriend, Eric, who leaves an awkward and uncomfortable greeting. Eric previously impregnated her, but she agreed to have an abortion. Though she does not call him back, she keeps the messages he has left on tapes and possesses other mementos of their relationship.

The next day at work, a patient known to Nadine, Ms. Hinds, has a violent outburst and Nadine subdues her. Ms. Hinds, a teacher, is upset because of the effects of a laryngectomy, which has left her unable to speak. She expresses her frustration to Nadine.

At home again, Nadine tries to call her former boyfriend, Eric, but a message informs her that his number has changed. Distraught, she recalls how her parents sacrificed their middle class lifestyle to send her to nursing school in America. She calls her parents; together they discuss trivial issues, preferring to deal with more grave matters in their letters.

Back at work Nadine once again encounters Ms. Hinds, whose parents have come to pick her up from the hospital. Ms. Hinds simply says goodbye (actually she must write it on a piece of paper), but seeing Ms. Hinds is very emotional for Nadine. She feels almost…

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