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Danticat's "Children of the sea" consists of two narrators, a man and a woman who love each other deeply. They write letters to each other that however remain unread. At sea with other thirty-six people, the man relives memories of his love from their childhood. He is not hopeful of the future and is worried that he might never see the love of his life again (Danticat 2). The woman is optimistic that the man is still alive and believes that they will one day reunite. She is not happy about the fact that her father does not approve of the person she loves. Because of this, she is angry at the world for denying her the love she deserves. The woman feels powerless for there is nothing much she can do about it. In the end, the woman sees a black butterfly, a symbol of bad news, and she later finds out that her lover died.
The story is a tale of loss and the undying power of love. It is set in historical and political background, although no date is openly given (Danticat 4). The most import detail is the presence of tonton macoutes, who was a member of an infamous brutal militia formed by Duvalier, president of Haiti from 1961-1986 (Affairs). Once Duvalier was in power, the old president was expelled and fled to Haiti. Anyone found with material supporting the old government could be arrested and persecuted. This is why, at the beginning of the story, the woman and her parents hide their posters promoting the former president.
The story introduces many themes, but the theme of brutality stands out the more. The macoutes perform horrifying and irrational acts of violence and terror on ordinary Haitian people, supposedly for the sake of maintaining order. While some Haitians, such as the male letter writer, have the means to try and flee the country, most have to stay behind and withstand the brutality. Some of them are hopeful that the situation will improve for the better, that the former leader will return and bring the violence to an end. Unfortunately, terrible events are still on the rise that suggests this hope is baseless. For instance, the man manages to board a boat to flee for his safety, but it begins to capsize soon after they depart. However, the other passengers on board remain optimistic that the Coast Guard will find them before they die. The ability of characters to continue being hopeful in the face of danger is another recurrent theme of Krik? Krak!
Also, the theme of love is demonstrated in the structure of the story. The story is narrated in alternating views of two lovers. Set apart by the man's anti-Duvalier radio show, and the woman's judgmental father, the two lovers, promise to keep in touch through letters. That way if they see each other again, it will be as if they were never separated. However, the two are not sure if they will ever be able to exchange the letters. Despite the uncertainty, they continue to write, driven by their undying love for one another. This is an example of the many forms of love in Krik? Krak! In his letter, the man equates his love for the woman as an endless sea. This is particularly emotional since it is the sea that keeps the two lovers apart.
Affairs, Council on Hemispheric. The Tonton Macoutes: The Central Nervous System of Haiti's Reign of Terror. 11 March 2010. http://www.coha.org/tonton-macoutes/.
Danticat, Edwidge. Krik Krak! n.d. https://www.gradesaver.com/krik-krak/study-guide/summary-children-of-the-sea.
Danticat, Edwidge. Krik? Krak! Summary and Analysis of " Children of the Sea." n.d. https://www.gradesaver.com/krik-krak/study-guide/summary-children-of-the-sea.
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