Thursday, November 18, 2010

Travel to Escape

One aspect of Krik? Krak! that I found interesting was that many of the characters seem to use travel, either internal or external, to escape their undesirable circumstances. In the “Children of the Sea” story the male character travels from Haiti towards America to escape punishment for being part of the youth federation while the female character is moved by her parents to another town to escape the same soldiers. However, their letters to one another also seem like a form of travel because by talking to one another and also expressing their love, they are able to escape the predicaments they are in and focus instead on another person and also mundane aspects of their lives like their university exams. Even though their letters never reach each other, they provide the characters with relief during the difficult external travel they are experiencing.

In “A Wall of Fire Rising” Guy seems trapped by his poor job prospects and his wife’s low expectations of him. He often can’t find work for days at a time and when he does get work, which he is excited about, his job is cleaning latrines at a sugarcane plantation. His wife, Lilli, seems proud enough of him despite this, but when he suggests putting their son on a list so he can hopefully have fulltime employment at the plantation Lilli protests saying that Little Guy is capable of other things. Guy is fascinated by the plantation’s hot air balloon and seems to find relief from the drudgery of everyday life in dreaming of it. Eventually he steals the balloon and travels externally up into the sky, escaping his life forever when he jumps from the balloon.

Similarly, “Between the Pool and the Gardenias” tells the story of Marie, a woman who is saddened by her husband’s infidelity as well as her inability to have a child while her husband has ten children with other women. To escape her life, Marie ran away from Ville Rose to Port-au-Prince. In the city, she finds a dead baby whom she names Rose and takes home with her. Marie pretends Rose is her child and will grow up and have all of the experiences the children Marie miscarried would have had; she talks to Rose as if she can listen and shares her life’s disappointments with her and keeps her long after Rose’s body has begun to decay. It seems that Marie uses her imagination to travel internally and escape the sad reality of her life.

The stories of Krik? Krak! seem to suggest that travel is one way of escaping a situation, either by physically traveling away from the situation or by placing oneself in a different mind set and using one’s imagination to travel away from it internally. This work suggests that travel can serve as a kind of escape, which is different from the way travel is typically thought of. Usually we view travel in terms of where we are going, traveling somewhere new to explore it, but in this case the travel is about what is being run away from as well, almost as if the starting point as opposed to the destination is the important aspect.

This escape aspect of travel seems to be relevant to the experience of service as well. One of the main goals of doing service is to leave behind misconceptions or close-minded views. We are trying to move beyond our narrow experience or view of the world to better understand it as a whole. Unlike the characters in this book, service doesn’t necessarily move you away from something dangerous or sad; often we are content with our understanding of the world even though we know it is based only on our limited experiences and specific circumstances. However, in my experience, once you have actively engaged yourself in service you inevitably alter the way you view the world and come to realize that your old conceptions may have been lacking in certain ways.

In addition, the purpose of a lot of service projects is to help another escape their poor or unfavorable circumstances. At Cristo Rey, the staff and volunteers are trying to help the students rise above the poor public education system of Baltimore. Many of the students I work with have parents and siblings who never graduated high school much less thought about college. However, in going to a new school and thinking about their futures and how education can improve them, they are escaping a cycle of poor education and often poverty. In this sense, service allows both the server and those who are served to escape a circumstance or mindset and move on to something that is better.

No comments:

Post a Comment