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Survival in the Reign of Terror. Edwidge Dandicat “The Children of the Sea”. Outline. 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

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Survival in the Reign of Terror

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Survival in the Reign of Terror

Edwidge Dandicat

“The Children of the Sea”

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  • The author and Haiti

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

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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 1993

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  • Beginning, 1978

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

  • Kric? Krac! 1995

  • Farming of the Bones, 1998

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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".

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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. WATERS)

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Kric? Krac!: Stories of Common People

  • 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: )

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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 storiesarenot 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.” (ELLEN KANNERCARRIBBEAN WOMEN WRITERS)

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Haitian History

  • The name of Haiti means mountainous country which was given by the former Taino-Arawak people.

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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


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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

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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").

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Recent Haiti: Refugees

  • 1971 Duvalier died and his son

    Jean- Claud “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.

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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.

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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

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Voodoo Festival

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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

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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

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The man


avoid crying(p9)


One may lose one’s identification

on the boundless sea (p.9, 11)

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His Dreams

  • 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)

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Kompe’s Dream –destroyed sublimated

  • 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)

  • 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

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His views of the boat people

  • Vulture 18

  • Cannot throw out the baby

  • Mixture of religion 20;

  • Still a human society 20-21

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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 19

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

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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”

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  • 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

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