They treat Haitians like dogs in the Bahamas, a woman says. To them, we are not human. Even though their music sounds like ours. Their people look like ours. Even though we had the same African fathers who probably crossed these same seas together.
National identity and the divisions it can create between people is a key theme of Krik? Krak!, as proven by this quote. The speaker is lamenting the fact that, despite their cultural and physical similarities, Bahamians are antagonistic towards Haitians because of their different nationalities. As the speaker notes, because of the origins and history Haitians and Bahamians share, it is in part a twist of fate that some of their ancestors ended up in Haiti and others in the Bahamas. For such a random occurrence to have such significance is ironic. It is also indicative about the importance of national identity and national borders in our world.
Beloved Haiti, there is no place like you. I had to leave you before I could understand you.
An excerpt from a song about Haiti, this quote illustrates the complicated relationship the characters of Krik? Krak! have with their mother country. Haiti is their home, a place they love and cherish. The fraught political situation, however, makes it difficult and/or impossible for them to stay there. So they must leave their beloved country without fully understanding why she (i.e. Haiti) is simultaneously beautiful and dangerous, loving and hateful.
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, but mostly to themselves.
The title of Krik? Krak! is explained in this quote. The reader learns that “Krik?” and “Krak!” is an exchange between a would-be storyteller and their audience. It is interesting to note that the storyteller is reciting the tale for herself as well as for the listeners. This suggests that the act of telling a story is therapeutic and beneficial for both the teller and the listener.
At least I gave birth to my daughter on the night that my mother was taken from me…At least you came out at the right moment to take my mother’s place.
The strong generational ties between mothers and daughters are on full display in this quote. When Défilé lost her mother at the Massacre River she lost one of her earthly tethers. She feels alone and abandoned, and thus when her daughter is born shortly after her mother’s death, she no longer feels so lonely. The loss of her mother and the gain of her daughter occur so close in time that they feel linked. Her daughter replaces her mother and the cycle of close mother-daughter bonds continue.
Pretend that this is the time of miracles and we believed in them. I watched the owner for a long time, and I think I can fly that balloon. The first time I saw him do it, it looked like a miracle, but the more and more I saw it, the more ordinary it became.
This excerpt demonstrates the importance of the hot air balloon to Guy, and it conveys the overall message of “A Wall of Fire Rising.” The balloon symbolizes the audacity of hope in the face of impossible odds. Here is Guy, an impoverished man with no flight experience, thinking that flying the hot air balloon is something he can achieve. As he says, at first it seemed like an impossible task, but over time his confidence in his abilities grew. Guy’s belief in his ability to fly the balloon despite his circumstances is a prime example of the hope prevalent throughout Krik? Krak!
You know that question I asked you before…how a man is remembered after he’s gone? I know the answer now. I know because I remember my father, who was a very poor struggling man all his life. I remember him as a man that I would never want to be.
The foreshadowing is strong in this excerpt from “A Wall of Fire Rising.” These are the last words Guy says to Lili before he takes the Assads’ hot air balloon and commits suicide. Guy reminisces about his father’s life of drudgery and says he never wanted to be like his father. Unfortunately, the lack of opportunities in his community means that Guy struggles to make ends meet. Rather than live as his father did, he decides to end his life, an act foreshadowed in his last words to his wife.
One day you will stick your hand in a stew that will burn your fingers.
This is a Haitian proverb that cautions against reckless behavior. Lamort’s grandmother believes that Lamort takes too many risks and should be more cautious, especially with regards to her relationships with Toto and Raymond. When Lamort says she will help Emilie and answer all her questions, her grandmother uses this adage because she fears Lamort will get herself into trouble.
Why should we give to Goodwill when there are so many people back home who need clothes? We save our clothes for the relatives in Haiti.
This quote is significant because it illustrates the strong, enduring ties between Haiti and the country's emigrant people. Even though Suzette and her mother have not returned to Haiti since leaving it many years ago, Suzette’s mother still has an emotional connection to and feels responsible for the loved ones still living in the Caribbean country.
In my family, we have always been very anxious about our papers.
“Papers” is a colloquial term used for proof of citizenship documents, green cards, passports, visas, etc. For immigrants, “papers” are essential and can be the difference between a successful life in a new country or deportation. This is why Grace says that "papers" have always been a source of anxiety for her immigrant family.
I couldn’t help but feel as though she was divorcing us, trading in her old allegiances for a new one.
The bonds between mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and sisters are central to Krik? Krak! and are one of the major recurring themes of the collection. The mother-daughter bond is tested in “Caroline’s Wedding” when Caroline goes against the wishes of her mother and marries Eric. In this quote, it seems that Caroline’s wedding is also testing the relationship between her and her sister. Evidently, Grace feels as if Caroline is abandoning them by getting married. In her mind, Caroline cannot be allied to her mother and her sister while also being attached to her husband.
Krik? Krak! Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Krik? Krak! is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.