EDWIDGE DANTICAT • “A Wall of Fire Rising” • Krik? Krak! (1996) AUTHOR~EDWIDGE DANTICAT • Birth-Port-au-Prince, Haiti January 19, 1969. • EmigrationBrooklyn, New York 1981. • Study-Barnard College for French Literature 1990, Brown College for Fine Art 1993 HAITI DANTICAT’S WRITINGS • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Breath, Eyes, Memory (novel, 1994) Krik? Krak! (stories, 1996) The Farming of Bones (novel, 1998) Behind the Mountains (young adult novel, 2002, part of the First Person Fiction series) After the Dance: A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmel, Haiti (travel book, 2002) The Dew Breaker (novel-in-stories,2004) Anacaona: Golden Flower, Haiti, 1490 (young adult novel, 2005, part of The Royal Diaries series) Brother, I'm Dying (memoir/social criticism, 2007) The Butterfly's Way (anthology editor) Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (essay collection, 2010) Tent Life: Haiti (essay contributor, 2011) Haiti Noir (anthology editor, 2011) Best American Essays, 2011 (anthology editor, October 2011) Claire of the Sea Light (novel, August 2013) DANTICAT ON LITERATURE AND WRITING • “Literature is a society mirror. I think that empathy is necessary for our common surviving. Literature teaches us to step into the other. Literature doesn’t only teach the secrets of our hearts, but of the others’ hearts as well….” • “For me, writing has always been about bearing witness and trying to understand who you are and your writing context in the world. Being a child of migrants I think my life was always a kind of search and writing is a way for me to interpret that search.” HAITIAN CREOLE • A mixture of French, Spanish, African, and English called Creole, or "Kreyol”--Danticat was taught French in school, but spoke Haitian Creole at home. Creole was her first and primary language; English is her third language. • Her writings as attempts to represent the cadence of a recent speaker of English: getting to the point, listing important events, incorporating less literary color. HAITIAN HISTORY • Dec. 1492: Columbus discovers Haiti (the island of Hispaniola) • ca. 1600: Native Carib population (Taino-Arawak Indians) virtually wiped out. African slaves begin to arrive in increasing numbers. • 1600s: Rise of British, French, and Dutch activity in Caribbean. • 1697: The Spaniards cede the western third of Hispaniola to the French crown at the Treaty of Ryswick. Haiti is now called "Saint Domingue." HAITIAN HISTORY • 1697-1791: Saint Domingue becomes the richest colony in the world. Its capital, Cap Francis, is known as the Paris of the New World. • August 1791: The first major black rebellion takes place. This begins the markings of civil war between the black dominated north and the mulatto dominated south. • 1796: Toussaint L'Ouverture emerges as the leader of the former slaves in the north. He restored order, ended the massacres, and restored some of Saint Domingue's former prosperity. HAITIAN HISTORY • January 1804: Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaimed the independent black Republic of Haiti in the northern half of the island (the first independent country of former slaves in the world). The name of the new country, "Haiti," is the name that had been given to the land by the former Taino-Arawak peoples, meaning "mountainous country." • 1843 to 1915: Haiti sees 22 heads of state, most of whom leave office by violent means. Rivalry continues among the whites, the mulatto elite, and the blacks. HAITIAN HISTORY • 1915: President Guillaume Sam is dismembered and the Americans invade the country. They remain for 19 years. • 1934: The Americans leave Haiti, which is now prospering once again. • 1937: Thousands of Haitians living on border of the Dominican Republic are massacred by General Trujillo's soldiers. (background to The Farming of Bones) • 1957: Francois Duvalier (“Papa Doc”) was elected president, terrorized the country, rooting out any and all opponents to his administration and ensured HAITIAN HISTORY • Duvalier’s power through his private militia, the tonton macoutes ("uncle boogeyman"). • 1964: Duvalier changes the constitution so that he can be elected president for life. • 1971: Duvalier dies and is succeeded by his son JeanClaude, age 19 (also known as 'Baby Doc'). By this time Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere (and remains so to this day). • 1972: Haitian "boat people" begin to flee to US. HAITIAN HISTORY • The rise of Aristide (1990–1991) • Military rule (1991–1994) - In response to the coup, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 841 imposing international sanctions and an arms embargo on Haiti. • The return of Aristide (1994–1996) - In mid-September 1994, with U.S. troops prepared to enter Haiti by force for Operation Uphold Democracy, President Bill Clinton dispatched a negotiating team led by former President Jimmy Carter to persuade the authorities to step aside and allow for the return of constitutional rule. With intervening troops already airborne, Cédras and other top leaders agreed to step down. • Preval's first Presidency (1996–2001) • Aristide's second presidency (2001–2004) • The 2004 coup d'état • The second Préval Presidency (2006–2011) • The Martelly Presidency (2011–present day) HAITIAN CULTURE • People: Divisions of race and class between blacks (about 95% of population) and mulattos(about 5%) • Language: Nearly all blacks speak Creole. French is spoken mainly by the mulatto elite, and is the official language. • Religion: Voodoo - 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. Rituals involve dancing and drumming ,spirit possessions and the occasional zombie. “A WALL OF FIRE RISING” Guy, Lili, and their son, Little Guy, live in a one-room shack. They get excited when Little Guy gets to play a revolutionary at school, and Guy gets extra work cleaning bathrooms at a plantation. Little Guy spends all his time learning lines while Guy dreams of stealing the plantation’s hot air balloon. Lili doesn’t approve, but one day she sees Guy flying the balloon. Guy captures the neighborhood’s attention and jumps out. Little Guy recites the lines from his play over Guy’s dead body. “A WALL OF FIRE RISING” • Setting: Haiti. A house near a sugar mill where the father worked. • Characters: Guy, Lili and Little Guy, Assad • Themes: Poverty, freedom, family duties, suffering, the dangerous power of hope and dreaming. QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION • Why does Guy steal the balloon? Why does he kill himself? • How are gender roles portrayed in the story? What are the consequences of Guy’s death to his son and wife? • What are some historical class issues subtly pointed out by Danticat? • What do you think is the meaning of the title? How does the title relate to the story?