Krik? Krak! | Study Guide

Edwidge Danticat

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Krik? Krak! | Themes

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Violence and Death

Danticat portrays people who are constantly reminded of or threatened by death. Haiti's political violence is a constant presence in people's lives. The male narrator in "Children of the Sea" slowly dies along with the other passengers on the boat they are using in their attempt to escape Haiti. The female narrator sees a black butterfly and understands that her lover has died. "Nineteen Thirty-Seven" depicts a large-scale massacre and the aftermath of its violence years later in individual women's lives. Suzette's mother in "New York Day Women" reflects that there will be "many graves to kiss" when she returns to Haiti. As depicted in Danticat's stories, people who live in Haiti find themselves faced with violence, death, and poverty because of the political instability of the country.

The Centrality of Family

Danticat prominently features family life in her portrayals of Haitians in Haiti and New York. Whether they live in Haiti or emigrate to New York, the Haitian women in Danticat's stories are strongly dedicated to their children and families. The female narrator's parents in "Children of the Sea" try to keep her safe from the macoutes or paramilitary soldiers who killed and maimed the Haitian population. In "A Wall of Fire Rising," Guy's wife Lili and son Little Guy support him despite his dangerous dream of flying the hot air balloon. "New York Day Women" centers on a woman who considers her multifaceted relationship with her mother. The collection concludes with "Epilogue: Women Like Us" which explores the connections between women throughout the generations.

Importance of Storytelling

The title of Krik? Krak! refers to a call-and-response-style chant that characterizes Haitian storytelling. The male narrator of the first story "Children of the Sea" explains that the storytellers would ask "Krik?" and the audience would respond "Krak!" This chant is a tradition that allows the storyteller to engage the listeners and interact with them as the story unfolds. The collection's final story "Epilogue: Women Like Us" returns to the role of storytelling in Haitian culture. The young woman writer receives a message from her relatives and society that writing is either lazy or dangerous. Over time she learns that she is actually exploring and strengthening her connections with her female ancestors by writing their stories.

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