Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Edwidge Danticat spent the first twelve years of her life in Haiti, toward the end living with her aunts, separated from her parents, who had preceded her in emigrating to the United States. She was an imaginative child in a land of strange religious voodoo rites, myths about spirits and ghosts, and customs that many outsiders can scarcely comprehend, and her work reflects those early years. Her upbringing presents a sharp contrast with her later life in the United States, which involved a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College in 1990, membership in a sorority, and a master’s of fine arts from Brown University three years later. This duality of outlook can be seen in her writing.

In “Night Women,” among other concerns, Danticat touches on the problems of unemployment (high in the impoverished island of Haiti) and the beguiling choice of prostitution as a solution. There is also a hint of the author’s reaction to the social breakdown that turns part of the heroine’s life into something that she dreads.

“Night Women” is one of nine stories and an epilogue that make up Krik? Krak! Some of the other stories in this collection are much more bitter and socially aware. For example, “Children of the Sea” chronicles a failed attempt by a party of refugees to escape to Florida in a leaky boat, and “Nineteen Thirty-Seven” is about a woman dying from conditions of her incarceration in the state prison. What is simply...

(The entire section is 536 words.)