His voice was soft-soft, just like yours, and the way he used to talk, quiet and sing-song sing-song use to make Pappy crazy. You know I can’t remember Randy face too good, but I still carry his voice with me. I could hear it plain-plain, like if I had just talk with he this morning (Mootoo, 73).
Cereus Blooms at Night argues that one’s family will only associate one’s difference with that person. For example, Mr. Hector states that he cannot remember Randy’s face, but remembers how soft his voice was. A face becomes a grounding point for people to recognize others – “putting a face to a name.” However, in this moment, Randy’s voice becomes his defining feature for Mr. Hector. Indeed, for Mr. Hector, it is the only way he can remember Randy. Because Randy’s voice indicated his own “queerness,” whatever that meant for Randy, his family associated him with his difference. This is shown through Mr. Hector explaining that even though he has not seen Randy for a long time, as their mother forced Randy to move out of the house. Hector still remembers Randy’s voice, as if he had “just talk with he this morning” (73). Randy’s voice becomes the one characteristic that Mr. Hector can remember. In this one instance, Randy’s difference overrides his own personality and physical features. Because of his difference, his brother cannot remember what he looks like, after Randy leaves. Randy’s queerness is how Mr. Hector can remember him.
On the other hand, it is important to note that Mr. Hector does still remember his brother, despite his differences. Another way to read this passage is that even though Randy was different, Mr. Hector was still able to remember him, when their mother forced Randy out of the house. Mr. Hector’s tone is not judgemental. Indeed, the fact that Mr. Hector states that he still “carry his voice with me,” implies a warm bond that Mr. Hector and Randy still have (73). Furthermore, if Mr. Hector felt negatively about Randy’s differences, he would not have used the words “soft-soft” (73). This implies that despite the fact that Randy’s voice makes him different, Mr. Hector does not think unkindly of him. Even when Mr. Hector cannot remember his brother’s face, he can still carry his memory, because Randy’s voice was so different.
In conclusion, although Randy’s voice did set him apart in his brother’s mind, Mr. Hector was able to hold onto the memory of his brother, when he was able to physically see him. Cereus Blooms at Night offers two readings of “queerness:” it becomes one’s defining trait, but it can also be a method of remembering someone when they are not physically there.