The unidentified narrator of “Women Like Us,” the epilogue of Krik? Krak!, speaks mostly in the second person–that is, in “you” statements. She starts with saying, “you remember thinking while braiding your hair that you look a lot like your mother and her mother before her” (Danticat 217). She then recites the rules of “your mother,” foremost among them being that writing is forbidden. It is an indolent act and takes time away from useful hobbies, like learning to cook. There are women who write as they cook, “kitchen poets” who slip phrases into their soups; these women “stuff their daughter’s mouths so they say nothing more” (Danticat 218)
In this epilogue, the sound of writing is compared to a “Krik? Krak!” noise, and a notebook is deemed a lonely girl’s best confidante. Writing is likened to braiding hair, because when you write you bring together many unruly strands into one unified braid. Some of the strands are long, others short, some thick and heavy, some light and thin. They are like the diverse women in a family, women whose speeches, stories, and sayings slip into a writer’s work. Those women don’t write down their own stories. They “sit in dark corners and braid their hair in new shapes and twists in order to control the stiffness, the unruliness, the rebelliousness” (Danticat 219).
After this explanation of writing the narrator talks about what happens when the daughter shows her mother her writings for the first time. She describes the mother’s disappointment when her daughter explains that writing will be her life’s work. For the mother, the sacrifices she made were too great to be repaid with just writing. The narrator then explains the situation from the mother’s perspective. Where she’s from, writers are tortured and killed if they are men, or called “lying whores,” raped, and then killed if they are women. The only people who write where she’s from are politicians, and they almost always end up in prison eating their own waste. The mother thinks their family needs a nurse, not a prisoner. She reminds her daughter that there were 999 hardworking women that came before her daughter. 999 women who toiled and sacrificed, and her daughter comes with a ratty notebook? Unacceptable.
And yet, the narrator argues, it was the voices of these women, whispering and murmuring in her head, which pushed the daughter to write in the first place. These 999 women urged her to speak through the tip of her pencil. These 999 women wanted the daughter to tell her mother that women like them do speak, even if it’s in a language that’s hard to understand. These 999 women form an army around the daughter and are always with her. They boil in her blood and their names roll off of her tongue. And their transcribed stories become the daughter’s testament “to the way that these women lived and died and lived again” (Danticat 225).
Krik Krak’s epilogue isn’t so much a story as it is an internal conversation an unidentified woman has with herself. Knowing what we know about Edwidge Danticat’s personal history, the most probable narrator of “Women Like Us” is Danticat herself. Like the woman in the epilogue, Danticat also struggled with telling her parents her dreams of being a writer. When the narrator’s mother says, “the family needs a nurse,” the words sound like something Danticat’s own mother could’ve said to her (Danticat 220). And the woman’s determination to continue on writing despite her mother’s protestations, because she thinks if she doesn’t write the stories “the sky would fall on [her] head” (Danticat 222), sounds like it comes from personal experience.
Though Danticat includes details from her own life in “Women Like Us,” she still incorporates the narratives of the fictional women she created in Krik? Krak! Célianne, the female letter writer, Josephine, Défilé, Josephine’s grandmother, Lili, the night woman, Marie, Lamort, Lamort’s grandmother, and the other myriad characters are all present in the epilogue. They are the 999 women who sacrificed and toiled, who made it possible for Danticat to actualize her dream of being a writer. The stories she is telling are theirs, as are the shoulders upon which she stands. With the image of the 999 unified women, Danticat solidifies the linkages she made between her characters in her stories. Like twining strands of hairs together, she unified the voices of these women and created a beautiful braid in the form of Krik? Krak!