Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Recognition through Travel Lit

Francesca Baldini

EN 385


            Krik? Krak! Centers around the various stories of Haitian women. While each story remains unique, there are commonalities between all of them. The opening story  “Children of the Sea”, relates the story of two young lovers who write letters to each other that will never be seen.  To me, the unanswered letters reminded me of the way a traveler records her travels in a diary or a journal, typically with no intended audience. The need to document one’s experience seems particularly relevant throughout Krik? Krak!. In the very beginning, the speaker explains “I also know there are timeless waters, endless seas, and lots of people in this world whose names don’t matter to anyone but themselves” (Danticat 3). The purpose of literature, especially travel literature, is to inform someone else about one’s culture or vice versa. Traveling calls forth our own need to document our experiences as well as our strong need for recognition.

            Throughout Krik? Krak!, many characters seek recognition. For instance, in “Between the Pools and the Gardenias”, Marie seeks recognition through the dead baby she finds. Although this seems very different from the kind of acknowledgement our two nameless narrators seek through their letters, the longing is still the same. Travel literature in general asks readers to find some part of themselves in the characters they read about. After all, isn’t the purpose of traveling and travel literature to bring people together? This novel does an excellent job of illustrating several very different stories that all center around the strong need to be recognized and acknowledged. Even in “Night Women”, the main character finds approval or acceptance through her various clients. Although these stories seem different in terms of content, the theme remains similar.

            Relating this to my own experiences with travel, I have always indulged in the differences between people. For instance, it is endlessly entertaining to ask my English flatmates what words they use for various items, even though all I’m doing is highlighting a difference between us. However, when traveling, it is always comforting to recognize something familiar to home. Travel literature asks us instead to find recognition among people rather than places. In this novel, readers are asked to find relationships between the various characters presented, which is similar to the role of a traveler in a foreign place. Instead of seeking the differences between cultures and people, travel authors seek to bring forth the way all humans are related.

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