Krik? Krak! | Study Guide

Edwidge Danticat

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Krik? Krak! | Symbols

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Rituals

The use of rituals in daily life connects people to their families and histories throughout Krik? Krak! Rituals symbolize a focus on the important aspects of life that are sacred and deserve honor. Rituals can offer characters a sense of groundedness when their lives seem unstable. Josephine from "Nineteen Thirty-Seven" decides to continue the rituals her mother did with her such as visiting the river and dipping their hands into it. Josephine's and her mother's rituals memorialize Josephine's difficult but triumphant birth during a massacre. "Caroline's Wedding" features a mother who makes bone soup that she hopes will magically damage the relationship between her daughter and the non-Haitian man she will marry. The story's conclusion transforms the ritual of making soup into a more positive and life-affirming family experience. The women's connection to each other and to their past is strengthened as they cook the bone soup. "Epilogue: Women Like Us" focuses on the ritual of braiding hair. The narrator of "Epilogue: Women Like Us" expresses that women have braided their daughter's hair for generations. The ritual represents women's centrality to life and all its stories.

Water

Haiti is an island nation which explains why water is a frequent feature and symbol in many of the stories in Krik? Krak! The story "Children of the Sea" opens Krik? Krak! The male narrator's entire experience is constrained to a small, leaking boat sailing away from Haiti. A woman on the boat named Celianne gives birth to a baby who does not thrive and she kills herself by diving in after the tiny body is thrown overboard. The water entering the boat and drawing Celianne to her death represents danger, fear, and death. The children of the sea mentioned in the title refer to the many Haitians who have died in similar situations and who are beneath them as the refugees suffer on the boat. In "Nineteen Thirty-Seven," the river where a massacre takes place attains a sacred status because of the human suffering that occurs there. Josephine and her mother dip their hands in the water and relive the tragic circumstances surrounding Josephine's birth. The pool in "Between the Pool and the Gardenias" is associated with sexual relations with the Dominican pool cleaner. The Dominican later turns Marie in to the authorities. Water is a representation of the death, fear, and instability that Danticat portrays as central to the experience of everyday Haitians of the time.

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