Krik? Krak!

Krik? Krak! Summary

“Children of the Sea”

“Children of the Sea” is the story of two star-crossed Haitian lovers separated by political persecution and disapproving parents. In a series of letters, the two characters write about life aboard a refugee boat and life under the oppressive Duvalier regime. Because it is not possible for the characters to actually exchange letters, the missives read more like diary entries than exchanges between two people. Still, their love for one another shines through, despite the distance that the sea (and eventually, death) creates between them.

“Nineteen Thirty-Seven”

Josephine and her mother Défilé move to Port-au-Prince in search of a better life, but soon after arriving Défilé’s friend accuses her of being a witch. Défilé is arrested and sentenced to life in prison. Josephine is now alone, aside from a Madonna doll she inherited from her mother. She visits her mother frequently at the prison but never speaks to her. In flashbacks it is revealed that Défilé’s mother was a victim of the 1937 massacre, and Défilé had to leap across the Massacre River to save herself and an unborn Josephine. At the end of the story Défilé dies because of the poor living conditions in the prison, but Josephine is at peace, knowing that her mother’s final flight was joyful.

“A Wall of Fire Rising”

Guy, Lili, and Little Guy live in a shantytown in Haiti’s countryside. Lili and Little Guy seem content with their lives, but Guy dreams of a life free from poverty. When a wealthy family in their town brings a hot air balloon there from America, Guy becomes obsessed with it. Nothing can curb his fascination–neither his wife’s worry nor his son’s triumphs at school. In the end, Guy is overcome by his obsession with the balloon and commits suicide after successfully flying it.

“Night Women”

“Night Women” is a night in the life of a Haitian sex worker. As she waits for one of her weekly patrons, the unnamed woman gazes upon her son and allows her mind to drift across a myriad of topics. Her most pressing thought concerns how she will continue to keep her sex work a secret from her child. Before long, her patron arrives and they conduct their business, undetected by her son. When her patron leaves, the woman goes outside to smoke a cigarette, reenters her house, and discovers her son has woken up. The story ends with her rocking her son back to sleep.

“Between the Pool and the Gardenias”

Marie, a young Haitian woman working as a maid for a bourgeois Haitian couple, finds an abandoned baby in the streets of Port-au-Prince. Ravaged by a slew of miscarriages, Marie thinks the baby is a gift from God and takes it home. Unfortunately for Marie, the baby is already dead and its body begins to decompose. She tries to give the baby a proper burial, but another employee of the wealthy couple discovers her. He reports her to the police, and the story ends with the pair of them waiting for the police to arrive.

“The Missing Peace”

Lamort is a 14-year-old girl living with her grandmother in Ville Rose. She is friends with a macoute named Raymond, and helps her grandmother run a small guesthouse. One day a foreigner looking for her journalist mother comes to stay at the guesthouse. Lamort agrees to help her, but during their search they run afoul of Raymond’s friend Toto. Raymond helps rescue them, but his and Lamort’s relationship is unequivocally changed. Despite this, the story ends on a somewhat positive note, with Lamort asking to be called Marie Magdalène, after her dead mother.

“Seeing Things Simply”

Princesse is a young girl that works as a model for a Guadeloupian painter named Catherine. On her way to Catherine’s house Princesse passes by cockfights and a drunken old man. During her sessions with Catherine, Princesse discusses a range of topics, including art and the universe. One day Catherine disappears, and Princesse realizes that she also wants to paint the world around her. When Catherine returns, she gives Princesse one of the portraits she modeled for. The gift inspires Princesse to make her first drawing, a dirt drawing of the drunken old man and his wife.

“New York Day Women”

Suzette is a Haitian immigrant living in New York City with her parents. Her mother in particular finds many aspects of life in America difficult to assimilate to. Thus, Suzette is shocked when she sees her mother strutting in Manhattan as if she owns the streets. Her interest piqued, Suzette follows her mother as she moves through the city. She watches as her mother babysits a young boy and meets up with some other immigrant women. The story ends with Suzette rushing back to her office, her perspective on her mother thoroughly shaken.

Caroline's Wedding”

Grace, Caroline, and their mother Hermine are a Haitian family living in New York City. Grace, Hermine, and the deceased father/husband were born in Haiti, while Caroline was born in America. To Hermine’s chagrin, Caroline is marrying Eric, a Bahamian man with a speech impediment. Though Grace doesn’t vocalize it, she also has reservations about Caroline’s upcoming marriage, because she feels as if her sister is abandoning the family. By the story’s denouement, Caroline and Eric do get married, and Hermine and Grace learn that Caroline’s wedding isn’t an ending, but a beginning.

Epilogue: “Women Like Us”

“Women Like Us” is Krik? Krak!’s epilogue. It tells the story of a young woman who attracts the ire of her mother when she confesses that she wants to be a writer. Despite her mother’s anger, the young woman tells the stories of her female ancestors.