Literature Study GuidesKrik KrakChildren Of The Sea Summary

Krik? Krak! | Study Guide

Edwidge Danticat

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Krik? Krak! | Children of the Sea | Summary

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Summary

The male narrator and the female narrator express their love for each other in journal entries that serve as letters between the two that are never sent. The male narrator has escaped Haiti on a small, leaky boat. He details the harrowing experiences he has on the boat. He gets to know the other Haitians on the boat, such as a woman named Celianne who was impregnated when soldiers called macoutes raped her. Celianne gives birth on the boat, the baby dies, and days later she throws the baby overboard. Celianne immediately drowns herself by jumping into the water after the baby. The female narrator back at home in Haiti discusses arguments with her family in her journal entries. Her family disapproves of her love for the male narrator. She describes the way the people of her town are terrorized by the macoutes, who kill and torture people. The female narrator explains that black butterflies represent death. When she sees a black butterfly, she realizes that the male narrator has died.

Analysis

The title of the story stems from the male narrator envisioning himself joining the "children of the sea" who represent the many people who have died while trying to escape Haiti by boat. Other passengers on the boat include a pregnant woman named Celianne and "an old toothless man." The male narrator and his fellow passengers have nothing to think about but their fear and hunger. Their misery reflects the constant sense of fear and violence that comes from living in a country full of political violence. Haitians often had to choose to experience daily violence or to try to escape. Each day the passengers throw one after another of their few possessions into the sea in hopes that this will help the boat to not sink. Inevitably it fills with water and sinks. The female narrator who is left behind in Haiti does not fare any better. She and her family and community are constantly under attack by sadistic macoutes or paramilitary forces. The macoutes kill a neighbor while the horrified neighborhood looks on. They give a woman her son's head and mock her when she goes to claim his dead body. The general feeling of the first story is one of all-encompassing dread. Death and violence are constant presences in the female narrator's life as she struggles with the macoutes' malicious actions and in the male narrator's life as he slowly dies while at sea trying to escape Haiti's violence.

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