full title · Krik? Krak!
author · Edwidge Danticat
type of work · Short stories
genre · Haitian-American fiction
language · English
time and place written · Early 1990s; New York
date of first publication · 1995
publisher · Vintage Contemporaries
narrator · “Children of the Sea” has two unnamed narrators, one male and one female, and “Night Women” is narrated by an unnamed prostitute. The other narrators, all of whom tell their stories as they happen or shortly afterward, are Josephine (“Nineteen Thirty-Seven”), Marie (“Between the Pool and the Gardenias”), Lamort (“The Missing Peace”), Suzette (“New York Day Women”), and Grace (“Caroline’s Wedding”). “A Wall of Fire Rising,” “Seeing Things Simply,” and the epilogue, “Women Like Us,” have anonymous narrators.
point of view · All of the stories narrated by characters are told in the first person, with descriptions limited to the narrator’s knowledge and experience. “Children of the Sea” is told in the form of letters written by the two narrators to each other, though they are never sent. “A Wall of Fire Rising” and “Seeing Things Simply” are told in the third person, with some insight into the internal thoughts of the characters. All the stories are told with a mostly objective point of view, which limits their perspective to what an external observer, or the narrator, could see or know. Occasionally, the narratives become somewhat subjective and offer explanations of the characters’ thoughts and actions. The epilogue, “Women Like Us,” is told with a subjective, second-person point of view.
tone · The tone of most of the narrators is matter-of-fact. They tell their stories in an honest, straightforward manner, relating only the events that happen and their basic reactions to them. Sometimes the narrators are unreliable when their idealism influences their depiction of events, as when Marie neglects to mention that the baby she finds in the street is dead. The epilogue’s narrator has a stronger attitude toward her subjects because she resents her relatives’ treatment of her writing.
tense · All of the stories are told in the recent past tense except “Children of the Sea,” “Night Women,” “New York Day Women,” and “Women Like Us” (the epilogue), which are told in present tense.
setting (time) · The stories are told in various time settings, but all take place between the 1960s and the early 1990s.
setting (place) · Most of the stories are set in either the village of Ville Rose or the capital of Port-au-Prince, in Haiti. “New York Day Women,” “Caroline’s Wedding,” and the epilogue are set in New York City.
protagonist · All the protagonists are young, poor, Haitian or Haitian-American women, namely, the female narrator of “Children of the Sea,” Josephine, the unnamed prostitute, Marie, Lamort, Princesse, Suzette, and Grace. The only exception is Guy in “Wall of Fire Rising.”
major conflict · The protagonists struggle against economic and political adversity, as well as the personal obstacles of despair and self-doubt.
themes · The diversity of suffering; family as a source of posterity; the dangerous power of hope
motifs · Imagined dialogue; religious iconography; water
symbols · Crying; butterflies; braiding
Please check out the film adaptation of "Caroline's Wedding" based on the short story in "Krik?Krak!"