Krik? Krak!

Krik? Krak! Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Butterflies (Symbol)

In “Children of the Sea” the female letter writer speaks about the symbolism of butterflies. According to Manman, butterflies can be the carriers of news. Brightly patterned butterflies symbolize happy news, whereas black ones portend death. By the end of the short story, Manman’s superstitious beliefs about butterflies appear to have some sliver of truth. Right before the female letter writer learns her sweetheart has died at sea, she sees a black butterfly in the form of her father’s hands moving rapidly in the air.

The Madonna Doll (Symbol)

Given to Josephine’s great-great-great-grandmother Défilé by her French slave master, the Madonna doll is a porcelain statue of the Virgin Mary. Since Défilé’s time, the doll has been passed down the matriarchal line of Josephine’s family, from mother to daughter. When Josephine’s mother is arrested for witchcraft, she gives the doll to her daughter. The doll becomes Josephine’s only remaining tangible connection to her mother. It symbolizes the powerful connection between mothers and daughters.

The Hot Air Balloon (Symbol)

The hot air balloon owned by the Assad family in “A Wall of Fire Rising” plays a central role in the story of Guy, Lili, and Little Guy. Brought to Haiti from America, the hot air balloon is a curiosity, a unique and exciting relic from a place many Haitians dream of fleeing to. Considering America’s lure as a place of political freedom and economic opportunity, it is fitting that the hot air balloon symbolizes freedom, hope, and the ability to live life on one’s own terms. For Guy, trapped in a life of poverty, the hot air balloon is an obsession. In the end he uses it as his vehicle to escape the chains of his life.

Color (Symbol)

Colors have significance in Haitian culture. In “Caroline’s Wedding” the symbolism behind a few colors is explained. Pink represents romance, while green is the color of hope. Finally, red is used to guard widows against their deceased husbands.

Preservation of Innocence (Motif)

The preservation of innocence is an important motif in the short stories of Krik? Krak! The most common representation is parents trying to maintain the innocence of their children. In “Night Women,” one of the primary concerns of the night woman is ensuring that her son remains ignorant to her life as a sex worker. She concocts fanciful stories about her night activities in the hope of protecting her son’s childlike innocence. The night woman doesn’t want him introduced to the world of sex before he reaches a certain age; also, she doesn’t want her son’s perception of her to be altered.

Hermine’s behavior in “Caroline’s Wedding” is another example of parental preservation of innocence. When her husband dies, Hermine instructs Grace and Caroline to wear red panties to ward off their father. In Haitian folklore the ghosts of dead husbands sometimes come back to lie beside their widows. Sometimes, if their daughter looks a lot like their wife, the husband might mistake one for the other. Thus, mothers and daughters both wear red panties to ward off the dead men and allow their souls to pass along. When she commands her daughters to wear red panties, Hermine is attempting to preserve their sexual innocence.