Survival in the Reign of Terror Edwidge Danticat The Children of the Sea Outline General Themes The author Edwidge Danticat and Krik?Krak, the tradition and the collection of short stories. Haiti Children of the Sea survival of humanity Questions the womans experience
The mans Humanity at times of trial Ironies (1): Nature Ironies (2): Letter Writing For your reference & Reference General Theme: Edwidge Danticat and Fugees (fyi-- Fugees Fugeelamusic video, lyrics, No Woman, No Cry, Killing me softly; Wyclef Jean, The Carnival; 2008 freestyle rap: Obama as US President ) 1. One kind of diaspora: refugees do they reject their past or
can they? 2. The lives of Haitians and Haitian immigrants. "new folk ethos: the definitive cultural forms produced by Africans, or those of African descent, since the Atlantic Passage. five elements: 1. Music and dance, 2. Drums and rhythms, 3. Rhetorical and polemical speech (e.g. rap and dub poetry), 4. Art as education and entertainment, and 5. Humor and absurdity.(Ref. Martha Cobb Harlem, Haiti, and Havana http://reach.ucf.edu/~aml3930/danticat/ ) General Theme: the Sea and Diaspora The sea a connecting image for the people of different diasporas, esp. the African diaspora Danticat: --The Middle Passage
"No one knows how many people were lost on The Middle Passage. There are no records or graves--and the ocean floor is where our fossils are. The journey from Haiti in the 1980s is like a new middle passage. Not to romanticize it, but the comforting thing about death is that somehow all these people will meet. I often think that if my ancestors are at the bottom of the sea, then I too am a part of that. So we are all children of the sea" (qtd in David 78) Edwidge Danticat: Haitian Experience + American Education Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti January 19, 1969 grew up in Haiti under
the dictatorship of "Baby Doc" Duvalier Father left for NY when D was at 2, Mother, at 4; D. emigrated to Brooklyn, New York 1981 (age 12). Studied in Barnard College for French Literature 1990, Brown College for Fine Art 1993 Parents views of her writing "I think my parents had two fears about my writing. 1) not safe: One is that there's such repression in Haiti that it's dangerous to be a writer. When my
father left to come here, most of the writers he knew were in prison. 2) a luxury: And then, I'm from a poor family in Haiti. There are certain luxuries we weren't used to people having, like painting all day or writing all day. But suddenly, there it was for me: the possibility of writing. (Danticat) Writings Beginning, 1978 Breath, Eyes, Memory, 1994 (four generations of Haitian women who must overcome their poverty and powerlessness; mentions the rural practice of
testing a girls virginity and gets criticized by Haitian Americans) Kric? Krac! (1995) Farming of the Bones, 1998 (Haitian/Dominican Massacre in 1937 to whiten the country) Kric? Krac! (1): storytelling Kric and Krac A weaver of tales a Haitian storytelling tradition in which the "young ones will know what came before
them. They ask Krik? We say Krak! Our stories are kept in our hearts". http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art5070.asp Dandicats use of Krik? Krak! tradition A way of involving the listeners in the story-telling. While that[krik krak] is the standard ending (sometimes opening) for a Caribbean story, the stories are usually anancy stories (trickster stories) and folktales with moral lessons. Danticats nightmarish tales are a far cry from those, but her tales do carry a moral lesson about
the powerful and the powerless, about the failure of food to triumph over evil. (Carribean Women Writers ERIKA J. WATERS) Kric? Krac! (2): Stories of Common People examines the lives of ordinary Haitians in Port-au-Prince or Ville Rose, Haiti, or New York: 1) those struggling to survive under the cruel Duvalier regime and 2) others who have left the country, highlighting the distance between people's dreams and the distressing reality of their lives. (Davis 67) 9 stories + an epilogue Women Like Us, which link them together 4 -- Haitian social situations (the boat people, the misery and violence,
the Macoutes), and 5 -- immigrants daily lives and more autobiographical. (e.g. Carolines Wedding) Kric? Krac! (2): Stories of Common People women = "kitchen poets," women who "slip phrases into their stew and wrap meaning around their pork before frying it." (note) . . .poor people who had extraordinary dreams but also very amazing obstacles." (source: http://www.english.uwosh.edu/helmers/storyweaver.html )
Krik?Krak! (3): on Women Collective Biography of Haitian women. In many ways, each of these 10 stories (in Krik? Krak!) is part of the same tale. Women lose who and what they love to poverty, to violence, to politics, to ideals. The authors deceptively artless stories are not of heroes but of survivors, of the impulse toward life and death and the urge to write and to tell in order not to forgot. (ELLEN KANNER CARRIBBEAN WOMEN WRITERS) e.g. Celianne a woman with a still-born; "Caroline's Wedding" Caroline, one with a missing arm, which is a birth defect causing her some imaginary pain of amputation. Krik?Krak! (4): butterfly as a
central image Butterfly rebirth and transformation, as a means of endurance and survival In Children of the Sea, butterflies send messages. Haiti: in the Greater Antilles Sargasso Sea 1. the Bahamas to the North East of Cuba Antigua the Greater Antilles
Martinique the Lesser Antilles Haiti Haiti (1) a Country with many languages The name of Haiti means mountainous country, which was given by the former Taino-Arawak people. 1492 ~1600
1697 1697~1791 1791 Columbus discovered Haiti. Spanish conquered Hispaniola (island). Spanish ceded the domination of Haiti to the French. The richest colony in the world the first major black rebellion took place. Haiti (2) The 1st Black Nation US Domination
1796 the former slaves prevailed under the leadership of Toussaint LOuverture 1804 the Republic of Haiti -The first independent black nation The failed dictatorship coup and political unrest ~1820 1915~1934
The US invaded Haiti for 19 years, which instituted virtual slavery Recent Haiti: Political Upheaval 1957 Francois Duvalier Papa Doc became the president, ensuring his power through his private militia, the tontons macoutes (which means in kreyol, uncle boogeyman ). 1971~ 1986 Duvalier died and his son Jean- Claud Baby Doc
succeed. By this time Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere (and remains so to this day). Haitian refugees (Danticat, born 1969, her parents left in 1971 and 1973) US funding and investments continued in this period (e.g. assembly plants for U.S. manufacturers) 1990 ~ Election and exiling Aristide twice (the old president referred to in the story?)
Recent Haiti: Refugees 1972 Arrival of boat people in Florida. 2004 In Haiti's chaos, unpunished rape was norm Haitian Race and Culture -Divisions of race and class between blacks(about 95% of population) and mulattos(about 5%) -Nearly all the blacks speak Creole -French is spoken mainly by the mulatto elite, and is the official language.
Haitian Race and culture(2) 80% --believe in Catholicism 5% -- Protestantism Voudon (voodoo)--popular among the farming society Voudon -an animistic African religion that has been melded with Catholicism Source: http://www.caribnationtv.com/haiti.html Voodoo Festival How to survive during the time of dictatorship, political upheavals and military violence?
Chidren of the Sea Two narrators 1.The girl escapes with her parents from Portau-Prince to Ville Rose 2.The boy a member of the Youth Federation and a radio show host, makes a narrow escape by sea. Survival in Chidren of the Sea Starting Questions Love & Gender: How are the two lovers related to each other? Why do they not have names? (Kompe should be a term of address.) Survival and Deaths:
How are the parents different in face of dictatorship and violence? What different stories of survival & death do the boy and girl each tell? (e.g. Madan Roger; Celianne; Lionel; Swiss; Justin Moise Andre Nozius Joseph Frank Osnac Maxilmilen) What are the minor characters(e.g. Madame Roger, Celianne, an old man) ways of surviving or resisting the dictatorship? Why did the baby of Celianne, Swiss, not cry at all on the boat? What do you think about the ending of the story? Survival in Chidren of the Sea Starting Questions Style & Theme: In this human tragedy, what roles does
nature play? e.g. butterflies (5, 25, 28-29); banyan tree, children of the sea, etc. Why do we have two narrators? What is the overall tone of the story? Sad, ironic, or keeping some sense of hope? The Girl Though remembered as one protected by her genteel mother and watched by her father (p. 9), she gets violent (4, 7) and rebellious (11). Witnesses cruelties of the macoutes Madame Rogers son; forcing incest; Dogs licking dead faces, soldiers molesting women.
Communication with her mother p. 13 Fights with her father (in the city) and starts communicating with him in Ville Rose p. 22, 28. The Boy dignity avoid crying(p9), bathroom(p15) his sense of identity: Haitian the song p. 9; (the others) not mistaken for Cuban 8, The boy growing awareness of the Middle Passage: finally an African 11; sailing for Africa 14; bathroom like the slaves 15. loses his sense of location on the boundless sea (11) awareness of approaching death accept the idea of dying 6, Dream of heaven 12,
a sense of community: singing 9, sharing food and story-telling 14 His Dreams: of destruction and sublimation, or joining the black ancestors i. I dream that we are caught in one hurricane after another. I dream that winds come of the sky and claim us for the sea. We go under and no one hears from us again. (p.6) ii. The other night I dream that I died and went to heaven. This heaven was nothing like I expected. It was at the bottom of the sea. (p. 11-12) starfish and the mermaid having Catholic Mass under the sea
Children of the Sea Humanity at times of trial the boat people Vulture 18; gossiping, and fighting 20-21; have to do something to those sick people 20 an old man like a painting, the boat like a museum 21 The boy --cannot throw out the baby Swiss, Communication between the old man and the man: keeping ones name and
the others message. 27 Under dictatorship whether to rescue Madame Roger. hope (of return of the old president) used as a weapon. 18 Madan Rogerspeaks out against the soldiers Celianne raped, later chooses to die with Swiss (a baby who does not cry)
Humanity at times of trial (3) Family -- Papa and Mamma: differences Their different views of the two protagonists' love p. 13; --mama: ambition; papa not do her good Their different social status: he was a gardener from Ville rose and her family was from the city and some of them had even gone to university (p. 22); Their responses to Madame Rogers disaster and deathrescue or not; self-denial and mourning 17; 19 Manman speaks for Papa. Regrets being mean to you(p. 5); how he saves her 24
Humanity at times of trial (3) Love The boy The girl Sex as a way of intimacy. --loves some one in her life. 22 Tried to win the father over. Listen to the exam result. Dont marry a soldier Remember their silly Writing under the dreams: Passing the banyan tree
university exams and then studying hard to go until the end, the farthest of all we can go in school. (p.21) Notebook as his will Ironies in Symbols associated with nature Love and red ants p. 3; Mountains and endless sea as obstacles endless mountains p.3; p. 26 boundless and unpredictable p. 6; sea endless as love, too. The sea that is endless like my love for you pp. 15; 29 sun
the sun associated with Africa pp. 11; 14; 27-28 (going to Africalosing their direction) Butterfly superstition or intuition? her fathers hand; Banyan tree p. 26 --a spiritual support, most trusted friend, holiness; can gods hear them? Irony(2): the Letters will never reach each other Motivation: keeping their connection with a faith in their reunion. I will keep writing like we promise to do. When we see each other again, it will seem like we lost no time (p. 8) Awareness of not meeting again. It was nice imagining that I had you here to talk to. A poignant
revision of the Krik, Krak tradition. (p. 27) His love will live when he becomes a child of the sea. Conclusion: Despite all the weaknesses, evils, deaths and ironies they witness and/or experience, love and human connections are confirmed in their lives. Irony(3): a country with its social fabric completely destroyed Forced incestuous relations The boy as a child -- writing about the empty faces of young children and the countrys hopeless future. 5 Gender identity: the boy jealous about her being protected as a girl.
The girl survives at least with endless love For your reference "Epilogue: Women Like Us." Writers don't leave any mark in the world. Not the world were we are from. [In Haiti, only politicians write.] You remember thinking while braiding your hair that you look a lot like your mother and her mother before her. It was their whispers that pushed you, their murmurs over pots sizzling in your head. a thousand women urging you to speak through the blunt tip of your pencil. Kitchen poets, you call
them. Ghosts like burnished branches of a flame tree. These women, they asked for your voice so that they could tell your mother in your place that yes, women like you do speak, even if they speak in tongues that are hard to understand. Reference http://voices.cla.umn.edu/authors/EdwidgeDanticat.html http://www.english.uwosh.edu/helmers/storyweaver.html Caribbean Women Writers http://www.english.ucf.edu/publications/lit3930/biography.html Danticat, Edwidge and Margaria Fichtner. "Author Edwidge Danticat Writes about Being Young, Black, Haitian, and
Female." Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 139. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. Literature Resource Center. Gale. Fu Jen Catholic University. 6 Jan. 2010 . Davis, Rocio G. Oral narrative as short story cycle: forging community in Edwidge Danticat's Krik? Krak!. MELUS. 26.2 (Summer 2001) p65. From Literature Resource Center. Wylie, Hal. "Krik? Krak!." World Literature Today. 70.1 (Winter 1996): p224. Literature Resource Center. Gale. Fu Jen Catholic University. 6 Jan. 2010 .
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