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Krik? Krak! | Study Guide

Edwidge Danticat

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Krik? Krak! | New York Day Women | Summary



Suzette is a young Haitian American woman who lives in New York CIty. One day she is surprised to see her mother out and about in the central shopping district of New York City. Suzette's mother stays home in Brooklyn all day and never ventures into New York City, or so Suzette had thought before this day. Suzette is fascinated and secretly follows her mother as she engages in everyday activities like interacting with young children and shopping for clothing at high-end stores and street vendors. She realizes that her mother watches other people's children during the day. Suzette is astonished to see her mother chatting with a group of other women who are also babysitting. Suzette remembers her mother's mixture of loving and chiding remarks toward her over the years. She finds it confusing and disturbing to watch her mother show kindness and familiarity to a young child whose existence is not even known to Suzette.


The stories before this point all take place in Haiti. This one takes place in New York City and explores the lives of Haitian immigrants of two different generations. The relation of both women to the city, to Haitian culture, and to each other form the core of this mother-daughter story. As Suzette follows her mother around New York City doing everyday activities like interacting in a friendly way with others' children she wonders how well she truly knows her mother as a person. She reflects on her mother's wisdom and remembers the folk sayings she repeats such as "many graves to kiss" about the death and violence that plague their native country of Haiti. Suzette feels resentment toward her mother for missing every meeting of her school's parent-teacher association as she watches her mother kindly interact with strangers' children. It is difficult for Suzette to reconcile her personal experiences with her mother and the way Suzette sees her out in the city. She thinks to herself and humanizes her mother as she reflects. Suzette's mother's comments reveal the constant struggles with poverty she endured in both New York and in Haiti. She remembers her mother's words about the brutality of Haiti. Her mother noted that in Haiti "when you get hit by a car, the owner of the car gets out and kicks you for getting blood on the bumper." Suzette knows that her mother holds pain that she hides during her daily life. She reflects that six of her mother's seven sisters died in Haiti but her mother "never had the strength to return for their funerals." The day of secretly watching and reflecting on her mother leads Suzette to relate to and appreciate her mother more deeply as a human being.

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