Identify symbols:


Survival in the Reign of Terror

Edwidge Dandicat

“The Children of the Sea”


1. The author and Haiti

Krik?Krak, the tradition and the collection of short stories.

Author~Edwidge Danticat

Born in Port-au-Prince,

Haiti January 19, 1969 grew up in Haiti under the dictatorship of "Baby

Doc" Duvalier

Emigrated to Brooklyn,

New York 1981

Studied in Barnard

College for French

Literature 1990, Brown

College for Fine Art



Beginning, 1978

Breath, Eyes,

Memory, 1994 (the rural practice of testing a girl’s virginity)

Kric? Krac! 1995

Farming of the

Bones, 1998

Kric? Krac!

“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".

Dandicat’s use of Krik? Krak! tradition

While that[“krik krak”] is the standard ending

(sometimes opening) for a Caribbean story, the stories are usually anancy stories and folktales with moral lessons.

Danticat’s 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.


Kric? Krac!: Stories of Common


She tells us of "kitchen poets," women who "slip phrases into their stew and wrap meaning around their pork before frying it."

“. . .poor people who had extraordinary dreams but also very amazing obstacles." (source:


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 author’s 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 .”




Haitian History

The name of Haiti means mountainous country which was given by the former Taino-

Arawak people.

Haiti: a Country with many lanaguages

1492 Columbus discovered Haiti.

~1600 Spanish conquered


1697 Spanish ceded the domination of Haiti to


1697~1791 The richest colony in the world

Haiti: 2 Independence

1791 the first major black rebellion took place.

1796 the former slaves prevailed under the leadership of

Toussaint L’Ouverture

1804 the Republic of Haiti

Recent Haiti: Political Upheaval

~1820 The failed dictatorship

1915~1934 The US invaded Haiti for 19 years

1957 Francois Duvalier

“Papa Doc” became the president, ensuring his power through his private militia, the tontons macoutes (which means in kreyol,

"uncle boogeyman").

Recent Haiti: Refugees


Duvalier died and his son

JeanClaud “Baby Doc” succeed. By this time Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere (and remains so to this day).

1972 Arrival of

“boat people” in Florida .

Haitian Race and Culture

-Divisions of race and class between blacks(about 95% of population) and mulattos(about 5%)

-Nearly all blacks speak Creole

-French is spoken mainly by the mulatto elite, and is the official language.

Haitian Race and culture(2)

-An animistic African religion that has been melded with Catholicism

-80% people believe in Catholicism and 5% people are

Protestant;Voodoo is popular among the farming society

Voodoo Festival

Survival in “Chidren of the Sea”

Starting Questions

Love & Gender:

How are the two lovers related to each other?

Why does she not have a name?

Survival and Deaths:

What different stories of survival & death do they 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:

Identify some of symbols, or possible symbols, of the story. e.g. butterflies (5, 25,

28-29); banyan tree, children of the sea

The functions of having two narrators.

The use of ironies

The man

※ Self-dignity : bathroom(p15), avoid crying(p9)

※ Identification :

One may lose one’s identification on the boundless sea (p.9, 11)

His Dreams i.

Do you remember our silly dreams?

Passing the university exams and then studying hard to go until the end, the farthest of all we can go in school. (p.21)

Kompe’s Dream –destroyed sublimated ii. 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) iii. 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)  Children of the Sea

His views of the boat people

Vulture 18

Cannot throw out the baby

Mixture of religion 20;

Still a human society 20-21

Papa and Mamma: differences

Their different views of the two protagonists’s love p. 13;

“Her whole family did not want her to marry papa because 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 Roger’s disaster and death 17; 19; to the chaos


Manman speaks for Papa. Regrets being mean to you(p. 5); how he saves her 24

Symbols associated with nature

Butterfly – superstition, her father’s hand; red ants p. 3;

Banyan tree p. 26 -

--a spiritual support, most trusted friend, holiness the sea + the sun

–boundless and unpredictable p. 6;

-- the sun  associated with Africa pp. 11;

14; 27-28

“Gone with the Wind”


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)

The sea that is “endless like my love for you” pp. 15; 29

Reference geDanticat.html toryweaver.html

Caribbean Women Writers