Edwidge is the author of this short story published in 1995. “A Wall of Fire Rising” referred to the story of a small family of three persons that includes a little guy and and his parents . The Guy was doing many jobs to support his family, whereas Lilly was a housewife taking care of their child. They lived in a small and poor town called Shantytown. There were two symbols used in this tale, the hot air balloon and the moon, which symbolized ideas of the better life of Guy. He believed that one day he will have a balloon to fly away and start a better life. The balloon in this short story represented an escape and moving towards a better and happier life. Guy was often saying that “the moon is on its way to brighter shores”. After he lost his life, the balloon was linked with the moon that represented the dreams and struggle of Guy for freedom that ended with his death.
The story was about the freedom that could be achieved in various ways. Edwidge in this story tried to symbolize the balloon as freedom for Guy. He tried to move away from endless poverty through his death and left his wife and son behind. Lili and Guy had a great love for each other. When she came to know about the suicide of her husband, she walked slowly toward his dead body with deep thoughts to see and confirm that it was the person she loved. She didn’t express anger at Guy for leaving her and Little Guy alone. Her body language didn’t describe her anger or sorrow for his action as she accepted his decision. Workers of the sugar mill were looking from the field near the mill that a balloon is flying in the air. Some of them were enjoying the scene and calling out Guy’s name with cheer and clapping. His son was also looking at this scene and informed his mother about the incident. Within seconds his father descended to earth (Dinticate, 2013). Someone asked Lili to close the eyes of her demised husband, she replied: “No leave them open, he likes to look at the sky ” (Danticat, 2013).
Another symbol Danticat presented in this story was Dutty Boukman; the Haitian slave, he was the saint, who initiated a revolution against the curse of slavery being practiced in French colonials. This mission continued throughout the 18th century. His son was given the role of Boukman in his school. He was reciting the monologues of Boukman loudly. This role strengthened the hope of Little Guy to escape from their existing situations and find a better future. Little Guy was more passionate than his father to seek a better life. Lili and Guy were enjoying the voice of the forefather of Haitian independence from their child. Some of these lines even brought Guy to the point of tears. When Little Guy found his father’s dead body on earth, he was shocked and confused. He continued reciting lines from his play, his voice became stronger as these lines symbolized his honor form father and his hope for a bright future. Little Guy quoted one of the lines from his play that “If we can’t live freely we shall die” (Danticat, 2013).
The main theme of this short story is about poverty and its associated issues. As the poor financial position of the family put a lot of stress on Guy to uplift his status in society. Guy was struggling to find a better job and provide his son with a better future. This story portrayed poverty as a curse. Guy believed that he can do better, and capable to change his status through his intelligence and hard work, while he was stuck in doing some undesired jobs (Chen, 2011). Once he was arguing with his wife regarding whether to put his son on the mill’s employer list he added: “If my father had worked there, if he had me on the list, don’t you think I would be working?” (Danticat, 2013). Another theme of this story was parenthood, their son was also the center of attention of this story. Both his parents show love, care, and concern about his better future. The author tried to express the importance of parents in one’s life, and how they are concerned about their children. They enjoyed their child’s role in the play and helped him to memorize the monologues of his play. Little Guy was excited when he was assigned the role of a school play. Lili was satisfied with her life with Guy and their son, she helped her husband to be hopeful and avoid negativity. Once she told him that “a man is a judge by his deeds, and our son never went to bed hungry, we have always been fed him for as long as he is with us.” (Danticat, 2013)
The story was about freedom, parenthood, hope, and poverty. There were two main symbols the moon and a hot air-balloon which represented the struggle for a better life and escape from the current place and job. Moreover, there was a lesson of freedom and hope in the monologues of a revolutionary Dutty Boukman. This story reflected Haiti’s politics, but its main theme was about the triumphs and tragedies of Guy and his family. In this story, the balloon was symbolized as a miracle that can help Guy to escape from all his problems to somewhere with a sound financial status.
Danticat, Edwidge. “A Wall of Fire Rising.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. By Kelly J. Mays. 11th ed. United States: W.W. Norton &, 2013. 318-29. Print.
Chen, Wilson C. “Figures of Flight and Entrapment in Edwidge Danticat’s” Krik? Krak!”.” The Rocky Mountain Review (2011): 36-55.