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Unity Through Pain

Essay by   •  March 5, 2018  •  Book/Movie Report  •  842 Words (4 Pages)  •  580 Views

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Unity Through Pain

Throughout history, conflict, such as that in Haiti, has always resulted in pain and misery. How do people respond to these sufferings? How do these experiences shape one’s character? In the novel “Krik? Krak!”, Edwidge Danticat explores the relationships between the people of Haiti during times of violence and chaos. As the author shares her nine short stories, readers are given a glimpse into Haitian culture, values, and beliefs in the perspective of her characters. Danticat suggests that sufferings are passed on through generations, and in those experiences, humans are able to find unity with those of their past and present.

Danticat’s story, “Nineteen Thirty-Seven” illustrates the sufferings which unite the women and their ancestral lines that had ties to the massacre river. Josephine, the daughter of a woman said to have “wings made of flames”, witnesses the pain and torture her mother experiences in prison. During one of her visits, she sees her mother’s withering body, “These days, her skin barely clung to her bones, falling in layers, flaps, on her face and neck.” (Page 31). Josephine’s mother, beaten and starved, faces the same fate as her grandmother who was brutally killed by Dominican soldiers and dumped in the Massacre River. Even after escaping the river, Josephine’s mother was still bound to the sufferings passed on by her grandmother. These experiences brought Josephine, her mother, and many other women together. Before her imprisonment, Josephine’s mother would often go on voyages with groups of women to the Massacre River. While reflecting on the events of the past, Josephine notes, “We were all daughters of that river, which had taken our mother from us.” (Page 35). In mourning for their lost ancestors, the women were able to bond with those of their past and one another.

The idea of bonding in times of sorrow also surfaces in the more recent generations of “Caroline’s Wedding”. The story takes place in the United States, where Grace and her family of three adjust to American culture. Her mother, having strong ties to Haitian culture, brings Grace to a church called Saint Agnes where they attend Mass in honor of the dead Haitian refugees. Alter boys would list off the names of those who were unable to make it to the United States alive. Grace notices that “Some of the names sent a wave of sighs and whispers through the group. Occasionally, there was a loud scream.” (Page 147). The attendees were able to find unity in gathering together as a group to grieve. During the Mass, the priest also talks about a woman who jumped off a refugee boat with her newborn. This woman was also mentioned in Danticat’s first story, “The Children of the Sea”. By circling “Caroline’s Wedding” to the first story, the author conveys that even those who survived and were able to make the trip to the United States experienced hardships similar to those of their ancestors. After Grace finally receives her passport, she goes on to state, “We

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