1. I also know there are timeless waters, endless seas, and lots of people in this world whose names don’t matter to anyone but themselves.
The male narrator writes these words at the beginning of “Children of the Sea,” soon after he sets out for the United States in a tiny boat. His words emphasize how common and almost meaningless suffering is in Haiti. Every Haitian, not just the ones on the male narrator’s boat, has a reason to flee the country, whether for political, economic, or personal reasons. Their stories are painful and touching, but so many stories exist that listening to or caring about them all is impossible. Each person must focus on his or her own difficult past and unsure future. The suffering they share makes them anonymous. The entirety of the Haitian problem is so great that no individual matters too much. The male narrator also understands that, like the “timeless waters,” this suffering is nothing new. Haiti and many other places have been consumed by suffering for centuries, and people in these places will likely continue to suffer. This realization makes the male narrator’s despair both inevitable and understandable. Danticat points out that maintaining hope is almost impossible when everyone is so familiar with pain and no relief is in sight. Somewhere between Haiti and the United States, the male narrator sees that suffering is as great as the ocean, and all he can do is navigate it in the foolish hope of one day reaching safety.