Literature Study GuidesKrik KrakThe Missing Peace Summary

Krik? Krak! | Study Guide

Edwidge Danticat

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Krik? Krak! | The Missing Peace | Summary

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Summary

Lamort is a teenage girl who lives at a boarding house run by her grandmother. She was given the nickname Lamort because her mother died in childbirth. La mort in French means death and Lamort's family blames her for her mother's death. Lamort meets Emilie Gallant who is a Haitian American journalist when Emilie comes to stay at the boarding house. Emilie's mother had been killed in political violence in Haiti and she has dedicated her career to reporting on politically motivated murders in Haiti. Emilie also wants to see if her own mother is buried in the cemetery, since victims of political violence were often buried there. Lamort is impressed by Emilie's independence and intelligence and is reminded of her own mother who she never knew. Lamort helps Emilie visit the local cemetery. Lamort's grandmother disapproves of her independence and willingness to help foreign journalists and other visitors. She warns Lamort to be careful. During their argument Lamort's grandmother blames Lamort once again for Lamort's mother's death. This leads Lamort to decide that she wants to be called by her mother's name, Marie Magdalene, rather than Lamort, because that name signifies death.

Analysis

The importance of role models for young women is a key focus of "The Missing Peace" and of the next story in Krik? Krak!, "Seeing Things Simply." In "The Missing Peace," Lamort is inspired by the behavior and actions of a female Haitian American journalist. Lamort begins to see her role in her family more clearly and to assert her own opinions and values. Lamort's grandmother recognizes the danger in accompanying an American journalist to a cemetery to engage in research on the political violence committed in Haiti. Lamort's grandmother's warnings go unheeded as Lamort tries to develop her own identity as an independent adult woman. Lamort is willing to defy her grandmother's dictates because she is tired of being thought of only in relation to her role in her mother's death. By taking her mother's name instead of a nickname associated with her mother's death, Lamort reclaims a past in which she was loved and honored for who she was. The theme of thwarted female independence returns later in Krik? Krak! The narrator of "Epilogue: Women Like Us" argues that Haitian women were sent the message that they should only cook, clean, and take care of others. Writing and other independent activities were frowned upon. Both stories highlight generational differences about the appropriate role for women in Haiti.

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