Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Story of Women

Brendan O’Brien
Travel Literature
Krik? Krak! Post

            Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat tells the story of several different generations of Haitian women and their struggles. Unspeakable and horrible things happen to almost all of the women as they try to survive in a sexist country run by a ruthless police force and dictator. I was struggling to find the connectedness between all of the stories but Danticat waits until the Epilogue to reveal her final point: that the stories of these women, and all women, matter. She talks of her mother’s disappointment in her decision to become a writer. Her mother thinks it is too dangerous and that she should stick to household duties like the rest of the women in her family and in Haiti. But Danticat notes, “It was their whispers that pushed you, their murmurs over pots sizzling in your head. A thousand women urging you to speak through the blunt tip of your pencil. Kitchen poets, you call them. Ghosts like burnished branches on a flame tree” (Danticat 222). Danticat hears her mother and aunts complaining in the kitchen and stressing over the lives. As she grows older, Danticat inherits the same fears and worries as the women in her family but more importantly, she feels the overwhelming desire to write about them. Krik? Krak! is not a story about Danticat or her life but about the lives of any women and her main point in the story is that these women and their lives matter. She takes up the mantle and speaks for all of the women of Haiti to fight against their oppression.
            This is a common theme throughout all of travel literature. We have seen it a few times before earlier in this semester in the likes of Hau’ofa and Wendt as they attempt to create a Pacific literary culture and identity. Literature is one of the main ways in which those who are oppressed or misunderstood can reach out and touch virtually anyone.

            Women have made great strides in Western culture in terms of rights in the last century. While there is certainly still inequality in terms of pay and job opportunity, they are no longer considered lesser citizens by the majority of men in Western society. However, this is not the case throughout the entire world. There is the obvious example of women in the Middle East and specially in territories controlled by the ISIL group. These men and religious leaders forcefully subjugate women and take advantage of them. They are not equal in any sense of the word and like the Haitian women Danticat writes about, they too need a voice to help fight for their rights. Even a less noticeable level, throughout my travels in Thailand and Indonesia I noticed that any time I was with a group of women the men or women who interacted with us would always solely talk to and look at me. There are many cultures in which women still do not have the freedoms that many Western women have and literature is crucial to understanding this. By reading stories such as Krik? Krak! readers gain insight into the plight of women and come to fully understand the relevance of their story.

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