Thursday, September 28, 2006

Structural Barriers Restraining Freedom

In Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Napoleon explains, “For those who pass it without entering, the city is one thing; it is another for those who are trapped by it and never leave. There is a city where you arrive for the first time; and there is another city which you leave to never return” (Calvino 125). Similar to this excerpt from Calvino, structural barriers of the city seem to dominate the characters in Danticat’s Krick? Krak!.

In the first chapter, “Children of the Sea,” the main character says, “when we sing, ‘Beloved Haiti, there is no place like you. I had to leave you before I could understand you,’ some of the women started crying. At times, I just want to stop in the middle of the song and cry myself” (Danticat 9). The male character on the boat and the other passengers had no other option—besides death—to leave the country they loved. As a result of his political beliefs, it was too dangerous to live in Haiti, the land he grew up in. Ultimately, the passengers on board did not get the justice they deserved and tragically died at sea.

In a similar situation, faced with a life of poverty and hunger, Guy and his family were living miserably, with no way out in “A Wall of Rising Fire.” Unable to obtain a steady job, Guy was trapped and suffocated in the city. “But look what he [God] gave us instead. He gave us reasons to want to fly” (Danticat 68). He needed to find a way to leave, some type of hope to look on the other side of “the wall of rising fire,” for a better life.

Their city, so to speak, either forces them to escape, or makes them desperately want to leave their native land. These ultimatums seem radically unjust. I felt as if the struggle to escape was a major theme of Krick? Krak!. The utter helplessness of the majority of characters in the novel so far appear to all trace back to the land in which they live in, the city in which their freedom is trapped.