“Now, Manman sat with the Madonna pressed against her chest, her eyes staring ahead, as though she was looking into the future. She had never talked very much about the future. She had always believed more in the past” (40).
Throughout her novel, Krik? Krak!, Edwidge Danticat allows her readers to become the travelers. As Kolvenbach encourages us to do in his speech, this novel permits readers to enter the gritty reality that the Haitian people have suffered for generations. Danticat’s use of story telling throughout the novel enables readers to learn about the lives of various individuals and the tragic stories that have passed on from one generation to the next. And as the reader dives into the gritty reality of various characters lives, the reader actual feels the pain.
However, Danitcat does not only want her readers to feel pain. Instead, she makes it a point to teach the reader through her stories that these tales of hardship are not something new or uncommon but rather they are stories that have existed for generations. These stories have defined the Haitian people for centuries. Like Manman in Nineteen Thirty-Seven, individuals find comfort in the shared pain of their people. Through characters such as Manman, the reader learns that looking to the future is no hope for these characters, so they find comfort in the past.
As Danticat’s characters share the stories of their grandmothers, mothers, and godmothers, the reader is left questioning: “When will this sadness end? When will the struggle stop?” Through Danticat’s use of imagery, the reader feels as though he or she is right there with Josephine as she watches her mother be burned, or sitting with Marie as she holds the dead baby Rose in her arms. However, stories are not the only way Danticat gets her readers to stop and think.
At one point in the novel, “Little Guy” writes “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.” It is in this moment Danticat provides a direct dig at her readers. In this moment, Danticat emphasizes the selfish-ness of the individuals in this world and the lack of effort to help. Through Danticat’s stories of generational struggle, it becomes apparent to the reader that Haiti is not okay and has not been okay for generations. For this reason, Danticat writes Krik? Krak! In order for individuals to truly see what is going on in Haiti, they need to travel there and start caring about names other than their own. Once they read the descriptive tales, Danticat hopes that readers become inspired to help.
After reading the first half of the novel, I see the power travel literature can hold. Within her work Krik? Krak!, Danticat uses her novel as a wake up call for all individuals. Rather than being a novel read for entertainment, her novel is powerful. The stories of struggle that have been passed on throughout a single character’s life are meant to evoke emotion within the reader and inspire them to act. After traveling through generational struggle in Haiti, I want to learn more so that I can help. After entering the gritty reality, Danticat has inspired me to bring about change. Rather than questioning, “When will this sadness end? When will the struggle stop?” Instead, Danticat wants readers to do something about it. In other words, Krik? Krak! is not about reflection, it is about action.