Wall of Fire Rising Analysis

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The theme of despair and hope dominates Edwidge Danticat’s short story “A Wall of Fire Rising” published in 1995 in the author’s collection of stories titled Krik? Krak! The main characters, Guy, Lili, and Little Guy represent the former and the latter, respectively. Guy spends time complaining and lamenting about his generation, his family tree can be described as a cycle of despair. His father lived as a struggling man and inherited his poverty from his grandfather. The story’s title, “A Wall of Fire Rising,” traces its roots in a play, Dutty Boukman, in which Little Guy is busy acting: Boukman is a celebrated Haitian revolutionary whose acts of valor led to the independence of Haiti from France. The play is a symbol of hope in Little Guy, Boukman is a figure that goes a long way in resonating with themes of hope and freedom in the story’s setting.

The Plot and Analysis

Edwidge Danticat was born in 1969 in Haiti, her parents emigrated to New York, and she was raised by her aunt and uncle, she studied French at school, and Creole was spoken at home. At the age of 9, she began to write, at 12 she moved to her parents in Brooklyn, two years later she published her first work in English in a city magazine for teenagers (“Edwidge Danticat”). Essentially, Danticat’s writing largely overviews the cultural struggle between people in American society as well as the inner conflict of Haitian people, whose blend of African and European cultures created a vast space for struggle.

A very eventful story about the history of Haitians, a brutal story of how they fought for their independence. While reading many people are taught things, I did not know anything about their culture and this book helped to gain insight into that (Seraphin 4). This story is detailed about how the lower class lived and it is difficult to read about their struggles and how they had no help. This is a must-read to open people's eyes and hearts to different parts of this world.

Edwidge Danticat in “A Wall of Fire Rising,” depicts life in Haiti for the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In particular, the story revolves around a father’s shame and guilt and a child’s innocence, a mother’s love. The narrative is centered on the difficulties that a poor family has to endure in the political and economic oppression of people in the lower social class. Guy, feels guilty because he has failed to provide a good life for his family and is least likely to leave the situation (Seraphin 7). Although Guy loves and cherishes his wife and child, their presence is a reminder that he is a failure. At the same time, Danticat attempts to point out that his failure is largely caused by his inaction and lack of motivation to change the life of his family through radical or at least more decisive actions.

Danticat’s main characters, Guys' hold different views about freedom. For Little Guy, freedom is one of the matters of major concepts, especially when he enjoys memorizing the play lines about forthcoming freedom (Danticat 61). In contrast, Guy is convinced that freedom is impossible, he focuses on the high rates of unemployment in their towns and the lack of food, thoughts, and events that led him to suicide (Danticat 80). Lili is partly optimistic believing the Assads are too powerful to overcome, hopeful and appreciate her husband’s efforts. Ultimately, Danticat’s thoroughly engrossing story in “A Wall of Fire Rising” is a depiction of difficulties faced by Haitians and their heroic acts towards freedom.


Edwidge Danticat began writing as a child and debuted with the autobiographical novel Breath, Sight, Memory (1994), which won the Caribbean Writer's Novel Award (1994), the Young American Novelist GRANT Award (1996), and was chosen by Oprah Winfrey in her acclaimed TV show's book club. (1998). Danticat's novels have been translated into French, German, Spanish, and Hebrew, and she has also received many national and international awards. One of the writers with an interesting eye writes about Haiti, which has not been translated into many languages. A Wall of Fire Rising is a very sad story about dreams, about fighting against the current, about being gradually eaten up by your expectations.

Works Cited

"Edwidge Danticat". The History Makers, 2017, https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/edwidge-danticat.

Danticat, Edwidge. Krik? Krak! Soho Press, 2004, pp. 55-85.

Seraphin, Wideline. "Diasporic Dreaming: The Extraordinary Literacies and Superpowers of Haitian and Haitian American Girls". International Journal of Qualitative Studies In Education, 2022, pp. 1-16. Informa UK Limited, https://doi.org/10.1080/09518398.2022.2061067. Accessed 18 June 2022.

June 23, 2022


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