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Krik Krak Essay, Research Paper

Cruel World

During the twentieth century, many Haitians lived a life full of poverty and terror;

do to the many wars and epidemics that were established in the country. Throughout her

novel Krik? Krak!, Edwidge Danticat depicts the violence, brutality and cruelty her

people suffered during that time. In her first two stories, we get a glimpse of the horror in

which the Haitian culture had to endure. Whether it was a group of protesting students

getting gunned down, a young women being gang raped, or an innocent women being

sentenced to life in prison because she was believed to be a witch, the terror and horror

seemed endless. How could a human being treat another in such a manner? How could a

Haitian treat another Haitian with so much cruelty and have that kind of malice for his

own people? Danticat shows us the pain of her people through her words and

demonstrates their healing power through her various short stories.

In her first short story, “Children of the Sea” we are introduced to two young

adults who are in love with one another but who are separated because of the terror which

existed in their Haitian society. Because they feared for their lives, they had to part in

hopes that they would stay alive to see each other once again. The society in which they

lived was became incredibly violent due to the Haitian army trying to rid the country of

anyone who was against the government or who they thought was a traitor. The army or

macoutes, as they were referred to, were cruel and ruthless. One of the young narrators

in the story wrote in her journal “a group of students got shot in front of fort dimanche

prison today . our neighbor madan roger came home with her son’s head . the

macoutes by the house were laughing at her. they asked her if it was her dinner” (p.7).

The mascoutes mocked and laughed at helpless women carrying around the head of her

dead son, who they had previously shot. They shot him because he didn’t agree with the

government and its policies.

But the mascoutes did not stop at just taunting Madan Roger, they also severely

beat her. “the soldiers came looking for her son. madan roger was screaming, you killed

him already . he hated you like I hate you criminals. you killed him. they start to

pound at her . you can hear the guns coming down on her head. it sounds like they are

cracking all the bones in her body” (p.16). The terror of the mascoutes did not just stop

with killing, they also began to use cruel and unusual punishment on the Haitian people.

These heartless soldiers forcibly started making Haitian families commit incest. They

would hold a gun to the head of man and make him sleep with his daughter or hold a gun

to the head of young man and make him sleep with his mother. . “they have this thing

the do. if they come into a house and there is a son and mother there, they hold a gun to

their heads. they make the son sleep with his mother. if it is a daughter and father, they

do the same thing” (p.12). If they resisted they would shoot them. “The soldiers held a

gun to Lionel’s head and ordered him to become intimate with his mother. Lionel

refused. Their mother told him to go ahead and obey the soldiers because she was afraid

they would kill Lionel on the spot . Lionel did as his mother told him, crying as the

soldiers laughed at him, pressing the barrels farther into his neck” (p.23). The rain of

terror from the mascoutes did not stop with forcibly incest. They would also tie families

up with rope and make them watch as one of the females was gang raped by the group of

soldiers. ” the soldiers tied up Lionel and their mother, then they each took turns raping

Celianne” (p.23). The girl was only fifteen years old when the callous group of men

raped her. Nonetheless, she became pregnant with one of their children and later killed

herself.

In her second short story, “Nineteen Thirty-Seven”, Danticat depicts the horror

imprisonment had on an innocent women. She was accused by a women she tried to help

of being a witch and was beaten by an angry mob. “There was the sound of a crowd

outside. When I rushed out I saw a group of people taking my mother away. Her face

was bleeding from the pounding blows of rocks and sticks and the fists of strangers .

her face was swollen to three times the size that it had been” (p.39). Prison life had made

this women look incredibly old and become very thin from malnutrition. Her face was

gray, her teeth were dark red with blood and her skin looked as if it were going to fall off

because it was so loose. Because she looked this way, her prison term was extended to

life. It was extended because the guards “thought that the wrinkles resulted from her

taking off her skin at night and then putting it back on in a hurry, before sunrise” (p.36).

Every week the guards would shave her head and when she went to sleep, they would

make other inmates throw cold water on her so “their bodies would not be able to muster

up enough heat to grow wings” (p.37). The guards wanted to make her and the rest of the

inmates accused of being witches, look like crows. As a result of the malnutrition she

was receiving, she was “beaten down like a dog” and killed because the guards

believed her to be a true witch (p.47). “They said prison could not cure her” (p.47)

Life in Haiti during this time was not easy. People where killed because of their

opinions and beaten because of someone else’s. Cruelty and brutality ruled the Haitian

society. Danticat shows us how unfair life can be and how cowardly and heartless some

people are. It is hard to believe human beings can treat each other the way they do.

31a


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