The first half of Edwidge Danticat’s novel, Krik? Krak!, compiles multiple short stories to demonstrate love and relationships among the Haitian people. Using different narrators, she demonstrates the art if storytelling. Danticat’s writing connects the narrations by intricately weaving common imagery and themes within the diverse tales.
For example, in “Nineteen Thirty- Seven”, Josephine states: “Our mothers were the ashes and we were the light”, emphasizing that our parents are our origins. Even though they are now ‘ashes’, they passed the energy down to us, giving us the gift of their past. As our mothers pass their knowledge down to us, we receive their inspiration as we live in their example. This quote helps demonstrate the ‘passing of the torch’ as we become who are parents were. The light not only represents our mother’s past and her knowledge, but the act of selflessness as she gives up everything, so that her daughter can live a life that she once led.
Also as daughters it is our duty to keep the transfer of light, so when we become ashes, there is someone to receive our light. Danticat uses this beautiful metaphor to amplify the meaning behind Josephine’s story, and the importance of storytelling. As Danticat writes “Nineteen Thirty-Seven”, she passes her light to us as readers. With her expertise in story telling, Danticat pulls the reader in by using nature and the senses to set the scene. Her descriptions are more then text, as she tells the short stories, Danticat demonstrates the importance of detail and imagination.
By setting Krik? Krak! as a collection of short stories, it embodies the concept that everyone has a story. This collage of stories demonstrates that even though our stories can be very contrasting and different, we all have similarities. The diversity found within the narrations represents the drastic extremes of life, and even though an individual’s story may seem bizarre, we are all human making us equals and allowing a sense of unity.
The novel symbolizes this unity of life and Danticat emphasizes the importance of our relationships with each other, because these connections are what make life worth living. We can relate to each other, which help us learn and grow.
Danticat uses the imagery of mountains to demonstrate this on-going presence of life on earth. The first line of the novel is: “They say behind the mountains are more mountains” (3). These mountains symbolize the existence of life, and the cycle of new people occupying the earth. Although the people may be ‘new’ the earth they represent their parents ‘ashes’ and live a similar life in the path of their guardians.
Danticat’s novel is compelling and makes the reader deeply examine life. She invites us in with her title, Krik? Krak!, which asks, ‘are you ready to hear my story?’ and “Krak!” is the reply that means ‘yes, go ahead!’. Her writing allows reader to connect to the on-going presence of storytelling, and its importance on history. Storytelling is what combines generations, it is the link among eras and it provides the idea that all things living are family.
When I was younger, I would go vacation down the shore at my grandparents house. Each year those two weeks were the highlight of my summer. My grandma would take my sisters and I to where ever we wanted to go and get us what ever we wanted, it was a life filled with candy and dolls. At sunset of each day, we all would go and watch the boats, just sit there and stare.
As I stared at the boats passing me by, wondering where the boats were going, and who was on them and why, I began to formulate fictional stories about the passengers. Something about those boats reminded my grandmother of Ellis Island, where she had came over from Italy with her family as a child. She shared her stories of her travel and drastic change in scenery.
I began to realize everything I wanted was with me, I didn’t need the candy or dolls (they were back in my grandma’s home), all I needed was right there with me, my family and their stories.
Danticat’s writing allows me to visualize what my grandmother was visioning, although the character’s context is completely unrelated to that of my grandma, they share the idea of freedom and an escape away from their past.
Just like Danticat, my grandma is a storyteller, we all are. By telling stories we then can relate to one another. Storytelling connects our souls together and allows us to see our family’s past mountains, and our mountains that await us.