- August 18, 2012
- Posted by: essay
- Category: Free essays
Krik?Krak! by Edwige Danticat is considered to be one of the best writings of the author, depicting the miseries and difficulties as well as triumphs and rich cultural traditions of Haiti people, which are presented in nine short stories.
The name of the book seems strange from the beginning, but it can be easily explained, because among Haitian people it was a tradition to say Krik? In order to attract the attention of the audience and Krak! was correspondingly the answer from the listeners, who wanted to hear a really good story. “Dandicat not only captures the essence of Haiti, but the deeper levels of the human spirit with her trademark lyrical prose” (Jamison, 3). The characters, presented by the author are all bright and vivid, including the doomed refugee, the prostitute, father, trying to overcome his frustration and so on. The readers are usually captured and amazed by the tragedies of the characters, by the beauty and reality of images, by the strongest hope, reflected in the lines of the stories. The profound understanding of the characters’ souls and their feelings by the author gives the readers the possibility to penetrate deeply into the world they are living in, into their troubles and joys. Thus, the collection of stories Krik?Krak! by Edwige Danticat can be ascribed to the greatest short story writings ever produced, the brightest reflection of the Haiti people, their culture and everyday life, underlined by the subtle and perfectly developed characters and images.
In order to explain the knowledge of the Haiti traditions and life of the author we have to peep in Danticat’s biography. She was born in Haiti in 1969, which was a rather bustling period in the history of the country. Four years later after her birth, her parents took the decision to move to the United States, but the girl remained in Haiti with her aunt and uncle. This was the period, when the girl learnt the story telling traditions of her folk. Soon Danticat started to write her own stories, being a child yet. At the age of twelve she joined her parents in America and started to speak English instead of Creole (Jamison, 7). Her talent found support also in her education, as she attended Barnard College and then Brown University for the degree in creative writing. Her writings were dedicated to her native land, the miseries and economical and political difficulties, of which she knew not from somebody’s words.
Krik? Krak! Present the collection of nine stories; the events of them take place in Ville Rose, Haiti, New York and so on. Thye seem to have no connection to each other, only the two stories ”“ “Between the Pool” and “The Gardenias” directly refer to the women, described previously. However all the stories have the common theme of the relations between women and their families, also between women and their native land – Haiti. Only in the epilogue ”“ “Women Like Us” the readers realize, that all these women are closely related to each other. In the epilogue the narrator is most possible the author herself, who underlines the similarity to her mother and other generations of women.
Along with the central theme, there are other important themes, revealed by the author. The theme of suffering is present in each story, all the characters have to overcome pain and sorrows, although living different lives and gaining different experiences. “The despair of CÃ©lianne in “Children of the Sea” as she throws herself into the ocean is felt by the male narrator of the same story when he embraces death and by Grace’s mother in “Caroline’s Wedding” when she goes to a mass for refugees who, like CÃ©lianne, died at sea” (Jamison. 8).Â The reactions of all characters to the terrible events around them are all different, for example the mother from the story “New York Day Women” starts her new life in America, although the sufferings of her own land still can not leave her mind and heart. The guy from the story “A Wall of Fire Rising” wants to enjoy the short moments of glory, already knowing that they will end with nothing but death. By showing various experiences and situations her characters get in, Danticat wants to underline, that although born in the same land and facing the same problems, all people remain individuals and their sufferings and experiences as well.
The theme of family relations, inheritance, and respect of ancestor generations is also discussed by Danticat widely.
Here she refers to the already mentioned narrative tradition of passing stories from mothers to their daughters and so on, preserving the history for the future generations. The bright example of the reflection of this theme can be traced in the story “The Missing Peace”, when Emilie says to Lamort about the need of writing down the events that took place, but for Lamort the “posterity” is preserved within her family, with this she wants to say, that all the experiences, gained in her family, are passed from grandmother to mother, from mother to daughter and so on without any writing. In “Nineteen Thirty-Seven” the mother of Josephine explains her, that her birth was seen as related to the death of her grandmother, one link of the family was broken, and at the same time the other was initiated. Danticat shows with the help of these episodes, that all characters of Krik?Krak! were able to feel the pain of their previous generations, as well as obtain the experience, gained by their ancestors. The whole tradition of passing this knowledge to the youngest members of the family was supposed to contribute to strengthening of the family bonds and keeping the family history alive. The author herself feels her ancestors so strongly, that the necessity of this writing developed.
Hope is another key element, which unites all characters of Krik?Krak! Sometimes hope becomes despairing, but the characters still don’t give up, like the mother in “Night Women” ”“ she invents stories about an angel, who will come and save her son, she does it not only for him, but also for her own sake, in order to forget the harsh reality they were to face. Other characters also use dreams in order to support their hopes, that the day will come, when their sufferings will end. Some of them realize, that constant fantasies can not be a way out, because the reality still exists and has her power over their lives. The statement from “Children of the Sea” of the mother “[P]eople are just too hopeful, and sometimes hope is the biggest weapon of all to use against us. [P]eople will believe anything” is a perfect example of how people in Haiti wanted to believe, that there are a lot of good things in this world, but they have to struggle so much for them, that there is finally so little of their optimism remains. (Danticat, 89) Â Hope seems to be the last thing, they possess, however troubles and disappointments seem to deprive them even of their hopes.
For Europeans it is really difficult to accept the religious trends of the Haitian people, namely their voodoo practices.
For many years Christianity was imposed to Haitian people. As result, the characters of Danticat’s stories started to accept the Christian beliefs as their own, at the same time not refusing from voodoo rituals. The mother of Grace in “Caroline’s Wedding” visits church regularly, at the same time she can not forget the superstitions. Sometimes Haitian people didn’t want to associate the mystical qualities of Christian sacred objects with Christianity, although believing in them, like in “Nineteen Thirty-Seven” Josephine’s mother worships to the Virgin Mary, without relating her to Christian religion. Such problems are actually common for all colonial countries, which are forced to accept the traditions and culture of the colonizing countries and still do not want to forget their native roots and identity.
One of the most important symbols in Krik?Krak! is water, it is mentioned rather often by the author in all stories in order to underline the limitations of the worlds, the characters are living in. Actually half of Haiti is surrounded by water and when refugees decide to flee, they are to overcome the powers of the sea, like they had to overcome the obstacles of poverty and political problems of the country. In “Children of the Sea” readers find the description of the dead bodies of these refugees, which underlines the difficulty of the barriers, the people of Haiti were to overcome. In the words of the narrator of this story “I also know there are timeless waters, endless seas, and lots of people in this world whose names don’t matter to anyone but themselves” all the meaningless sufferings of all Haiti people are reflected.Â (Danticat, 72). Not a single person among Haitians can feel comfortable in his own native land, either due to political or economical or personal reasons. But individuals do not count any more in the frames of the total and absolute despair and pain of the whole country. The phrase “timeless waters” shows, that sufferings of Haiti people are timeless, i.e. lasted for many centuries already and there are no positive perspectives for the future evident at that moment.
Overall, we should admit, that the stories by Edwige Danticat present the deepest and the brightest depiction of the life of Haiti people, of her native land, reflecting all the troubles and sorrows, these people had to go through, including political violence, breaking of ideals, sufferings and hopes, experienced by Haitian people. The target audience of the stories might be very extensive, because the lyrical style of writing, supported by unique original evidences and facts, like for example the oral tradition of story telling, thus the combination of rational and emotional appeal, can not leave any of the readers indifferent. The arguments of the author are shaped in a simple, but at the same time perfectly developed way, thus being clear and persuasive to the readers.