by Rita Dove
Parsley Hate Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (line)
El General has found the word: perejil.
Who says it, lives. He laughs, teeth shining (lines 13-14)
This moment in the poem could be seen in two ways, and both, paradoxically, would be true: on the one hand, we could note that Trujillo's method of killing is frighteningly arbitrary but, on the other hand, this can be seen as an example of how methodically hate-crimes work. It might seem arbitrary to kill people over a word, but in reality it's not; Trujillo chooses "parsley" for very specific reasons, and those reasons stem from an intense hatred of the Haitian people. Thinking about killing them makes him laugh, and if that's not evidence of a kind of insane hatred, we're not sure what would be.
Ever since the morning
his mother collapsed in the kitchen
while baking skull-shaped candies
for the Day of the Dead, the general
has hated sweets. (lines 36-40)
This is a big quote for the one instance of the word "hated," and we think there's a good point buried in here – it has a lot to do with psychology. There is no real reason for the general to hate sweets; his mother happened to die while baking them but the candies certainly didn't cause her death. He could dislike them, or avoid them, and that might be normal. But Trujillo's abject hatred of sweets gives him a fullness of character that helps explain his hatred for the Haitians.
The knot in his throat starts to twitch; (line 43)
More hints at insanity, here, and while this isn't a poem about madness, there are little behavioral hints sprinkled here and there that imply that Trujillo is highly disturbed (besides the obvious, of course). The mere presence of pastries for the pet parrot set off an enormous chain reaction of thoughts in Trujillo's head. According to the poem, this train of thoughts eventually causes him to order the massacre after which the poem is named.