About Once on This Island JR.

One stormy night in the Antilles archipelago, thunder booms, making a small girl cry in fear. To comfort her, the village storyteller tells the story of Ti Moune, a peasant girl who falls in love with a grand homme, Daniel Beauxhomme. In this story, four gods (consisting of Asaka: Mother of the Earth, Agwé: god of Water, Erzulie: goddess of Love, and Papa Gedemon of Death) rule an island known as the Jewel of the Antilles. The peasants live on one side of the island and the grands hommes live on the other side. One night, Agwe unleashes a terrible storm upon the island, which in turn causes a disastrous flood, wiping out many villages. However, the gods save the life of a little orphan named Ti Moune by placing her in a tree above the flood's waves. She is found and adopted by the peasants Mama Euralie and Tonton Julian.

Years later, a grown-up Ti Moune prays to the gods to let her know her purpose, and to let her be like the fast-driving strangers on the roads near her village - the grands hommes. Hearing her prayer, the gods laugh at her. However, Erzulie suggests that they give her love, because it is stronger than any of the other elements. Offended, Papa Ge proposes a bet to prove which is stronger: love or death. Agwe arranges for the car of Daniel Beauxhomme, a young grande homme, to crash during a storm so that Ti Moune may meet Daniel and restore him to health. Despite the objections of the other peasants including her own parents, Ti Moune helps Daniel recover. Ti Moune falls in love with the stranger and as she cares for the unconscious boy, she imagines he loves her too. When Papa Ge comes to take Daniel's life, Ti Moune offers her life in exchange for Daniel's so that he will not die. Papa Ge is angry but leaves, hinting he will return – sooner or later, as her life now belongs to him.

Tonton Julian travels to the other side of the Island to seek Daniel's family at the Hotel Beauxhomme. Ti Moune is tearfully separated from Daniel and tells her parents that she will go after Daniel to marry him, and though they are reluctant to let her go, they eventually give her their blessing. The goddess Asaka tells Ti Moune not to fear, as the Earth will give her everything she needs on her journey to Daniel. Daniel and Ti Moune spend time together at the Hotel Beauxhomme and they fall in love. Daniel ignores the townspeople's gossiping over the unlikely relationship between a rich Beauxhomme and a poor peasant.

At a ball held at the hotel, Andrea Devereaux, a daughter of Daniel's family friends, asks Ti Moune to dance for everyone (her ulterior motive being to make her look bad in front of the grande hommes). Ti Moune does dance and gains the admiration of the rich society members. Afterwards, Ti Moune learns that Daniel is already engaged to be married to Andrea. Daniel, reminded of his responsibilities, must go through with the arranged marriage, leaving Ti Moune crushed. Papa Ge reappears and reminds Ti Moune of her promise to exchange her life for Daniel's – but says she can revoke the bargain if she kills Daniel. Ti Moune enters Daniel's room with a knife, but she still loves him too much to kill him, proving love is stronger than death. She realizes she would rather die with having loved someone, than to live and never have loved.

As Daniel and Andrea are married, they follow an old tradition of throwing coins to the peasants outside the hotel gates. Ti Moune calls to Daniel who gently says goodbye and then leaves. The storytellers tell of how the gods were moved to tears by Ti Moune's selflessness and love, and chose to bestow a final kindness on her; The Gods received her gently to death and then transformed her into a tree. The tree becomes a celebration of life and love that cracks open the gates of the hotel, allowing those of all social statuses to become one, including a peasant girl and a young grande homme. 

Bronx Charter School for the Arts