A Wall of Fire Rising by Edwidge Danticat

Paper Info
Page count 6
Word count 1755
Read time 6 min
Topic Literature
Type Research Paper
Language 🇺🇸 US


The paper aims to critically analyze the context and concepts expressed in by Edwidge Danticat in his work by the name “A Wall of Fire Rising”. In his he uses symbol, character, and plot to prove the protagonist desire to escape his life of poverty and rise above a world filled with unfairness, suffering, and the pain of exclusion. Generally, there are several themes portrayed in his article which includes parenthood, poverty, and the pain of exclusion as shown below.

Justification of Critical Perspective

The story is based on the lives of a poor Haitian family. The head of the family, Guy, and the wife Lilli together with their young son Little Guy represent a typical Haitian family struggling to survive. This is evidenced by the fact that when Little Guy is reciting the plays, Guy remembers the struggles that the forefathers underwent in trying to liberate them. The reference to plantations, wealthy families, and the conduct of Guy reveals a strong connection with the Haitian culture. Another instance that elucidates that the author draws from Haiti is the recitals done by little guy.

Most of the lines done by Little Guy are akin to the achievements of Dutty Boukman who was a Haitian that helped in the liberation of his people and the decapitation of slavery in their region. The lines recited by the little guy are full of the biography of Dutty Boukman who was from Haiti. The fact that this raises nostalgic feelings from Guy when he hears the lines being said by his son shows a correlation between Guy and Dutty Boukman. Since the lines remind Guy of the forefathers then it means that Guy’s forefathers include Dutty Boukman who was from Haiti. The story leaves us inevitably with just one conclusion that the humble conditions by Guy represent Haiti at the time when they were under colonialism. Guy and Lilli represent a class of Haitian who are not willing to give up on their story towards changing the destiny of their people. Particularly is Lilli concerned with her son to see that he gets schooling which will ensure that he doesn’t lead a wretched life like theirs. Guy on the other hand represents a class of Haitians who are willing to secure a good life for their families which were constricted by the inequality imposed upon them by the wealthy families like the Assad family.

Both families represent Haiti during its acme of colonialism when the fate of the less privileged Haitians was determined by the rich foreigners who were very few. Mostly they mistreated the Haitians and ended up exploiting them economically and physically. To reinforce just how strong they were the wealthy would carry out some humiliating activities like the one done by Assad in flying the hot air balloon instead of caring for the welfare of the other members of the society. Nevertheless despite all these atrocities not all Haitian lost hope of salvaging the process. Promising an act like the one Lilli was doing to make sure that her son was not conscripted to the permanent list as a worker did much to show that they wanted to move out of this cuckoo of poverty.

The literary analysis

Darroch, Fiona. “” Ou libéré?” Vodou and Haiti: Speaking the Language of Resistance, Remembrance, and Freedom in the Writing of Edwidge Danticat.” Anthropos (2019): 283-304.

Lilli is superstitious that if she were to let her son not go to school she will end up leading a wretched life like herself. Lilli strongly believes that unless something is done the life of their son is directly geared to poverty. To change this she tries all means to ensure that Little Guy is schooled to change his destiny. In part, Lilli attributes their vile conditions in poverty to their progenitors who were also in poverty and low places of life.

Lilli represents the strong interplay of Vodou in the Haitian culture. The Haitians believed that the spirit world regulated physical activities and whatever happens is a result of them. She represents a class of Haitians who had refused to be incorporated by the prevailing principles of Christianity which were anti-voduosim; she shows that vodousim is not entirely wrong because it helps her pursue a positive goal of taking her son to school. I agree with the author that indeed vodousim is a critical aspect of the Haitians as shown by Lilli but even though it helps Lilli to take her son to school is does more harm than good. Vodousim makes people think that fate is fixed and cannot be changed.

Carvour, Cole A. “Re-articulations of the Flying Symbolic: Flying and Falling in Edwidge Danticat’s Krik? Krak! and” Without Inspection”.” Journal of West Indian Literature 29.2 (2021): 108-154.

One of the most conspicuous themes in the story is that Guy has precipitating desire to lead his life into a far place where they could lead a happy life. This is symbolically represented by the air balloon that Guy uses to show his wife how they could use it to escape their parents’ hovels of poverty. Repeatedly he is seen reflecting on how he could execute his dream to have a better life by using the air balloon. The hot air balloon shows the opportunity available to Guy to change his destiny and at the same time, it is used to remind Lilli after the death of her husband that he always would look up to the sky. The author enumerates how various opportunities at one3s disposal may be used for their good and sometimes for their bad. In my view, Guy ought to have used the hot air balloon wisely for his escape or to at least heed to his wife’s clarion call not to board the hot air balloon.

Barba Guerrero, Paula. “Sounding displaced memories: Narrative soundscapes in Edwidge Danticat’s Krik? Krak!.” Short Fiction in Theory & Practice 11.1-2 (2021): 39-55.

One of the most unique aspects of Little Guy is his ability to recite lines in such a way that it imposes feelings on a person. This is evident where Little Guy recites the lines making Guy remember the struggles by forefathers to liberate them. Little guy’s baritone sound revived and maintained Guy’s fighting spirit in a bid to look for a better life. The author opines that the use of sound could be used to change the way society views and executes its day-to-day activities.

The use of sound can do evil and at the same time, it can be used to execute marvelous things. Because of the vocalist of Little Guy, his father was able to remember the struggles done by their forefathers and as such maintain the struggle in which it was shown by astonishing desire to lead his family to greener pastures (Zazzarino 676).I strongly concur with the author that sound can be manipulated to achieve a certain end that is malign or congenial. A good example is the use of sound by little guy that helped articulate the struggles of former Haitians which made his father yearn to keep the struggle going. Similarly, it assured Guy that little Guy was aware of his community origins and of the frustrating conditions of their community which they need to change.

Chen, Wilson C. “Figures of Flight and Entrapment in Edwidge Danticat’s ‘Krik? Krak!’” Rocky Mountain Review, vol. 65, no. 1, Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, 2011, pp. 36–55, Web.

Assad family owns a mill from which the whole community is employed. The whole community around Guys place depends on that mill for a means of livelihood. The Assad family also owns the hot air balloon which he uses to fly over the village showcasing his wealth. On the other hand, the members of the Assad society like Guy have to do shoddy work like washing latrines to sustain themselves.

The gap between the rich and the power is the wall of fire. On one hand, it burns to sustain and nourish the Assad family while on the other side it burns down the lives of people like Guy who have to do much to sustain themselves. Such was the fate of the Haitians during colonialism where a great margin existed between the rich and the poor. The inequality in the division of wealth is so overwhelming that one family like Assad could sustain a whole community. I have to agree with the author that indeed the wall of fire in the short story represents this outstanding gap between the rich and the poor. Just like the fire burns to benefit and also to destroy, the gap benefits the rich and at the same time destroys the lives of the poor people like Guy.

Newman, Katherine S., and Rebekah Peeples Massengill. “The Texture of Hardship: Qualitative Sociology of Poverty, 1995-2005.” Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 32, Annual Reviews, 2006, pp. 423–46, Web.

She focuses her review on areas like the labor market, neighborhoods, and welfare. In the story, the Assad family has the potential to hire or decline to hire. They have the power of determining the economic status of the whole neighborhood. A good example is where Lilli expresses her disdain by saying that she doesn’t want little guy to be on the list. On the permanent list, Guy was number seventy-eight just for a day’s work even though he had the capability to work over and more.

The manner in which the labor market is infiltrated by the Assad family makes it hard for the people to determine their economic independence. The powers of the means of production are in the hands of the few. It leads to widened gap and inequality among the community which leads to unwarranted struggles like the one exhibited by Guy and his family to obtain a livelihood. The author is trying to show one of the key sources of social hardships contrasts the livelihoods of the Guy and Assad families’.in one family there is affluence at the expense of others while in the other they suffer at the whim of the rich like Assad. It showcased the events that were at acme during the Haiti colonialism where the economic fate of the many was determined by the few. It is completely true that such activities will result in social-economic inequality because the fate of the majority is determined by the few.

Cite this paper


EssaysInCollege. (2023, January 6). A Wall of Fire Rising by Edwidge Danticat. Retrieved from https://essaysincollege.com/a-wall-of-fire-rising-by-edwidge-danticat/


EssaysInCollege. (2023, January 6). A Wall of Fire Rising by Edwidge Danticat. https://essaysincollege.com/a-wall-of-fire-rising-by-edwidge-danticat/

Work Cited

"A Wall of Fire Rising by Edwidge Danticat." EssaysInCollege, 6 Jan. 2023, essaysincollege.com/a-wall-of-fire-rising-by-edwidge-danticat/.


EssaysInCollege. (2023) 'A Wall of Fire Rising by Edwidge Danticat'. 6 January.


EssaysInCollege. 2023. "A Wall of Fire Rising by Edwidge Danticat." January 6, 2023. https://essaysincollege.com/a-wall-of-fire-rising-by-edwidge-danticat/.

1. EssaysInCollege. "A Wall of Fire Rising by Edwidge Danticat." January 6, 2023. https://essaysincollege.com/a-wall-of-fire-rising-by-edwidge-danticat/.


EssaysInCollege. "A Wall of Fire Rising by Edwidge Danticat." January 6, 2023. https://essaysincollege.com/a-wall-of-fire-rising-by-edwidge-danticat/.