Most criticism of Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night focuses on the Ramchandin garden, but this analysis reveals that The Paradise Alms House (TPAH) is central both to the narrative and to the ethics of the novel. Although literary thirdspace, based on Homi K. Bhabha’s Third Space, is not fully representable, its relational geography provides a locational frame within which cultural meanings are reworked so that characters may perform self-coherent versions of themselves and be appreciated as themselves by others. Performances of witnessing, kindness, and radical acceptance of self and other create a safe community, whose productivity is symbolized by the successful transplanting of the cereus plant. At TPAH, central characters embrace interlocking subjectivities that respect gender, class, racialization, sex, and sexuality to develop community that eschews homogeneity, encourages hybridity and mutability, and offers mutual support. Cereus demonstrates the insufficiency of individualistic hybridity and the revolutionary potential of hybrid communities.
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