Krik Krak

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Plot Overview

Krik? Krak! contains nine stories and an epilogue. Although the stories take place in Port-au-Prince or Ville Rose, Haiti, or New York, they do not overlap. The only exception is “Between the Pool and the Gardenias,” which mentions women from earlier stories. All the stories are all about Haitian women trying to understand their relationships to their families and to Haiti. The epilogue, “Women Like Us,” suggests that these women are related. The epilogue’s unnamed narrator, possibly Danticat herself, notices her similarity to her mother and female ancestors. These women cook to express sorrow, but the narrator chooses to write. Her mother doesn’t approve because Haitian writers are often killed. However, the narrator’s female ancestors are united in death, and she uses stories to keep their history alive..

“Nineteen Thirty-Seven”

Josephine - A young woman whose mother is in prison. Josephine is sad and confused about the rumors about her mother. She doesn’t know how to express her love for her mother and can never talk when she visits her, though she feels like crying. When her mother dies, she finally understands why she paid tribute to her grandmother in such strange ways and embraces the tradition herself.

Manman - Josephine’s mother, imprisoned for being a witch. Manman was traumatized when she saw her own mother murdered, but she had the strength to save Josephine by fleeing Dominica. Manman tries to explain her behavior but always cryptically. She suffers in prison and takes comfort in Josephine’s visits, but she resents Josephine’s silence. Jacqueline - A woman who lost her mother. Jacqueline participates in the same rituals Manman did, which makes Josephine feel close to her. Jacqueline’s actions encourage Josephine to embrace her mother’s traditions. “Nineteen Thirty-Seven” is narrated by Josephine, whose mother is imprisoned as a witch. Hours before Josephine’s birth, her mother swam across a blood-filled river to Haiti from the Dominican Republic, where Haitians were slaughtered, including Josephine’s grandmother. Every year, Josephine and her mother performed rituals at the Massacre River. When Josephine visits her increasingly frail mother, she never says anything, but she brings a Virgin Mary statue that her mother makes cry using wax and oil. When Josephine’s mother dies, Jacqueline, another ritual performer, takes Josephine to see her body burned.

“New York Day Women”

“New York Day Women”

Suzette - A young Haitian woman who works in New York’s Midtown. Suzette thinks of her mother as a bit of a nag and is shocked to find that there are things she doesn’t know about her. However, Suzette does love her mother, and she wants her approval even though she ignores her criticisms. Suzette’s mother - A Haitian immigrant who is very set in her ways. Suzette’s mother wants Suzette to be like her and frequently criticizes her. She dreams about winning the lottery but doesn’t play it, and she talks about Haiti but cannot face its suffering by visiting. Suzette’s mother is ashamed of her menial job. “New York Day Women” takes place in New York rather than Haiti. Suzette spots her mother, who never leaves Brooklyn, in Midtown. As Suzette follows her mother, undetected, she thinks about the critical things her mother says about family or Haiti or Suzette. In a playground, a woman wearing workout clothes leaves her young son with Suzette’s mother for an hour. Suzette’s mother and the son seem quite fond of each other. Suzette wonders whether her mother would have said hello, had she seen her. “Caroline’s Wedding”

Grace - A Haitian immigrant in her mid-twenties who just became an American citizen. Grace, whose real name is Gracina, doesn’t feel fully part of either Haitian or American culture. She is very close to both her sister and her mother and tries to defend each against the other’s frustrations. Family is all she really has, so although she wants Caroline to be happy, she...
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