EN 385 D
30 March 2015
Throughout Edwidge Danticat’s novel, Krik? Krak!,, the story travels through different places, time, and characters. However, one thing that remains unchanged is the theme of the strength of women. Although the sections, “Children of the Sea”, and “Caroline’s Wedding” have completely different settings, the female characters all encounter hardships which they bravely endure.
In the section, “Children of the Sea”, the reader is forced to travel to a place with unimaginable violence, heartbreak, and sadness. We travel from a corrupt and extremely violent 20th century Haiti, to an endless and dangerous sea. Three women, the female narrator, Manman, and Celianne, are all in terrible situations, yet hold strong. The female narrator in Haiti writes letters to her lost beloved, even though she can be killed if they are found, stands up to her father, and is forced to leave her home. Likewise, the strength of her mother, Manman, can be seen when she wants to save Madan Roger. Manman tells her husband, “you cannot let them kill somebody just because you are afraid” (17). Her husband disagrees and forces her to stay in hiding. We also travel with Celianne on the boat trip towards desired, but unachieved, freedom. We learn that fifteen-year old Celianne had gone through abominable situations in Haiti, such as rape and beating, and was pregnant. Instead of giving up hope, she leaves Haiti, and the male narrator comments, “I don’t know how she takes it” (10). Even when Celianne has a stillborn baby, she refuses to give the baby up. However, as circumstances get even more dire, she throws the baby and herself overboard. This should not be seen as a sign of weakness. Celianne had endured unthinkable travesties, and her decision to kill herself shows the love for her child.
Contrastingly, “Caroline’s Wedding” takes place in Brooklyn, where there may not be as much political instability and violence as in Haiti, but the women face other types of adversity. Caroline’s mother must deal with her daughter marrying someone that she does not approve of, Caroline must deal with leaving home and her mother’s disapproval, and Grace must be the backbone for both of them. Although the women are encountering more emotional pain than physical pain, like the women in “Children of the Sea”, they all suffer, and finally come to peace with their struggles. For Ma, Caroline, and Grace, the resolution of their issues is marked by making bone soup and keeping Caroline’s bed in the apartment (215). All of their strength is tested, and they prove that they are capable of moving on with life.
All of the women in Krik? Krak! experience unthinkable situations that are mostly foreign to us. However, even in today’s modern American society, women continuously show their bravery and strength. I see the strength of a woman every Monday at Tunbridge Charter School. The teacher I work with in the self-contained classroom is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She must deal with eight learning disabled boys, who are all at different grade levels, have behavior issues, and difficult home lives, all while being pregnant. Although it is clear that her students love and respect her, they still act out and get easily distracted. However, Mrs. Embry’s patience never wavers, and she always manages to calmly get the students back on track. I am always amazed by her level-headedness and forbearance, even though she is exhausted and stressed. When I ask her how she does it, she explained to me that she knows that most of the students have a much more difficult life than she does, so it would not seem right to always be yelling at them. She “travels” into their shoes and reasons that her classroom may be their one place of solstice, so she would like to make it as comfortable as possible for them. From my observations throughout the semester, it is obvious that Mrs. Embry and the students have a great rapport, and that the class feels more like a community. This is chiefly due to Mrs. Embry’s strength and patience, even through hectic and difficult times. Much like the women in Krik? Krak!, she experiences hardships, but she does not let them hinder her.