Krik? Krak! | Study Guide

Edwidge Danticat

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Krik? Krak! | Plot Summary

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Summary

"Children of the Sea"

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 comments on the misery and hunger afflicting the people in the boat. The female narrator describes the violence and terror she is witnessing at home. She is left behind in a war-torn community terrorized by macoutes which were paramilitary soldiers ordered to keep citizens in line through the use of violence.

"Nineteen Thirty-Seven"

Josephine's mother used to take Josephine to the Massacre River to do rituals in the water in remembrance of the day when she was born. Josephine does not speak with her mother about the rituals and she does not understand them when she is young. Josephine's mother gave birth to her daughter in October 1937, on a night when thousands of Haitians living near the border in the neighboring country of the Dominican Republic were massacred by the soldiers of Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo (1891–1961). The 1937 massacre was the culmination of a long history of conflict and tension between Haiti and its neighbor the Dominican Republic. When Josephine's mother dies, Josephine reflects on her mother's history and pledges to continue the rituals honoring her mother's actions.

"A Wall of Fire Rising"

Guy and Lili are the parents of Little Guy, and the family lives in poverty. Guy works as a cleaner of bathrooms at a nearby plantation. One day he steals and flies a hot air balloon he finds there and disaster results. He thinks that he can fly the balloon but he is mistaken. He falls out of the balloon and dies in front of his wife, child, and others in the community. Little Guy recites the inspirational lines he has been practicing for the school play over his father's dead body.

"Night Women"

The prostitute who narrates "Night Women" describes her nightly routine of beautifying herself for the men who visit her. The prostitute's son sleeps next to her and she tries to not wake up her beloved child. The prostitute muses about what she will say to her son if he wakes up and sees a man with her. She decides that she would tell him that his father had visited for the night. She tries to reconcile her feelings of protection for her son with her need to work so that they can survive.

"Between the Pool and the Gardenias"

Marie is a maid who finds a dead baby who she takes in as her own. She tells the baby her problems and eventually attracts suspicion when the dead baby begins to emit odors. The pool cleaner who works at the plantation accuses Marie of killing the baby and calls the police.

"The Missing Peace"

Lamort is a teenage girl who lives at a boarding house run by her grandmother. She is inspired after meeting Emilie Gallant, an American journalist who visits Haiti to investigate murders that have occurred there.

"Seeing Things Simply"

Princesse is a teenage girl who poses nude for the artist Catherine who is visiting from Guadeloupe, an island controlled by France in the eastern Caribbean Sea. Catherine inspires Princesse to become an artist herself when she presents Princesse with a realistic portrait.

"New York Day Women"

Suzette is a young Haitian American woman who lives in New York City. She is surprised to see her mother out and about in the central shopping district of New York City. Suzette had thought that her mother never left Brooklyn which is the part of New York City where her mother lives. Suzette's mother is unaware as Suzette follows her around and watches her go about her day shopping and interacting kindly with strangers and children.

"Caroline's Wedding"

Grace discusses her sister Caroline's upcoming wedding with their mother, Ma. Ma strongly disapproves of Caroline marrying outside of their culture. Ma cooks bone soup that is meant to ward off Caroline's non-Haitian fiance. Later the bone soup comes to represent the love between Ma and her two daughters and the continuance of family traditions.

"Epilogue: Women Like Us"

The young woman writer of this final section grows up being urged to cook and take care of others, rather than to write or create. The young woman in the story grows to understand her writing as a means of remembering and honoring her female ancestors.

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