Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Expression Is Humanity

In Edwidge Danticat’s Krik? Krak! the title itself points to a connection that the novel works to highlight between the speaker and listener or author and reader. The book also highlights the importance that this relationship has as far as outlets for the basic definitions of humanity: expression. The relationship between the one who expresses and the one who listens is encapsulated in the idea of the call ritual before each story. “Someone says, Krik? You answer, Krak! And they say, I have many stories I could tell you, and then they go on and tell these stories to you” (Danticat 14). This call and response acknowledged the fact that it takes two to tell a story and that both sides must be willing to take part in this exchange for it to be a true moment of contact.

The significance of expression to humanity comes across in her first segment, “Children of the Sea” where two separated lovers write letters to each other that may never be read. Since these two people have agreed to write to each other and fulfill this promise in the spirit of love, their expression is genuine and they even have similar thoughts, particularly regarding their love for one another as the sea. In their writing they are able feel a connection with each other, regardless of their physical distance, “I know you will probably never see this, but it was nice imagining that I had you here to talk to” (Danticat 27). The expression through speech, in particular, is brought up in “A Wall of Fire Rising” where Little Guy is able to harness a certain inspirational power simply by reciting lines from a play. Each time he recites his lines to practice, a violent reaction ensues, both positive and negative. One time Guy punishes his son for mumbling the words once he has told him not to and “Guy made him kneel in the deep grass in punishment” (Danticat 63). However, the first time “the speech made Lili and Guy stand on the tips of their toes in great pride” (Danticat 57). The power of speech and contact comes through clearly throughout Danticat’s text and serves to expose the reader to the necessity that each human life has for expression.

In summation, the course explores the fact that there is much more to travel than simply physical displacement. Travel can take all types of form; one can travel through space, time, perspective, genealogy, bodily experience, conversation, and so on. The significance is not so much the form of travel, but the transformation that this travel can have on a person. Even further, the importance lies in how these changes affect each person and how they choose to interact and experience genuine contact with others.

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