A Wall of Fire Rising Questions and Answers
by Edwidge Danticat

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What is the setting of “A Wall of Fire Rising”?

“A Wall of Fire Rising” is set in a community in Haiti. Within the community, there are two primary settings. The first is the family’s home, referred to as a shack, located within a “shantytown.” The second is a field adjacent to a sugar mill, where the protagonist, Guy, works. Reference is also made to his son’s school. The sky above may also be considered a setting.

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Edwige Dandicat’s story is set in Haiti, in a community of undetermined size. The protagonist, Guy, lives with his wife and son in a “shack,” which is apparently similar to other poorly constructed homes in an impoverished part of the community; the narrator refers to this neighborhood as a “shantytown.” Guy, along with many other shantytown residents, is employed by a sugar mill. Much of the action occurs in and around their home. Another important setting is a field next to the mill. The boy, called Little Guy, is enrolled in school, and he tells his parents about events that occur there.

A contrast is drawn between the workers’ poverty and the tremendous wealth of the mill owners, the Assad family. The Assads’ son (an adult) can afford expensive hobbies like owning and flying a hot-air balloon. The shantytown does not even have electricity, so the residents use oil lamps and have no electrical appliances. The narrator refers to an area on the edge of the mill property where the owners have installed a television for the workers to watch. The television is locked into an iron cage, similar to the way the balloon is stored is behind a chain-link fence.

When Guy takes off in the balloon, he floats through the sky before falling. Everyone watches “the balloon drift higher up into the clouds.”

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