There are two people in this world: those who can deal with life’s challenges and those who cannot. “A Wall of Fire Rising” by Edwidge Danticat recognizes this predicament in the shantytowns of Haiti in 1991. Freedom has a different meaning for everybody and can be attained in different ways. As referenced by Guy, the hot air balloon is the key to freedom. Guy and his wife, Lili, have different perspectives on freedom and what life should be.
Lili loves her husband Guy but is not too fond of his negative comments and views towards people. Before marrying Guy, Lili was skeptical since he had an angular hairline. “It was said that people with angular hairlines often have very troubled lives” (238). Guy and Lili’s son, Little Guy, lived in a world by himself. He was focused on education and remembering his lines for his role Boukman in the upcoming school play. It was not of major importance for Little Guy to be focused on his parent’s financial situation.
He has not been faced yet with the reality of being dirt poor. Lili wanted Little Guy to have the life that Guy and she never had. She wanted to give her son the opportunity to be successful. Guy wanted his son to work in the sugar mill, the only source of jobs in the area. Lili opposed this idea for it might influence their son’s destiny. The main quote that plays a major role throughout the story happens when Little Guy is reciting his lines for the play. “There is so much sadness in the faces of my people.
I have called on their gods, now I call on our gods. I call on our young. I call on our old. I call on our mighty and the weak. I call on everyone and anyone so that we shall all let out one piercing cry that we may either live free or we should die” (244). Boukman says this during the revolution as the great rebel leader. A question for Danticat, would have to be if she wanted to have Guy be the present form of Boukman’s beliefs? Little Guy recites this playline twice within the story.
The first time, Guy took this quote to heart and compared it to his own life. The second time was said when Guy committed suicide and jumped out of the hot air balloon. Some would argue if it was suicide or if it could be justified. Either way, Danticat wanted to resemble Guy’s similarity with Boukman and distinguish it from the rest of the characters. At the time of Guy’s death, the foreman asked if Lili wanted her husband’s eyes to be closed. She responded, “No lave them open. My husband, he likes to look at the sky” (244).
Guy was not happy with his life on earth living in poverty. He finally reached freedom when he passed away. Lili did not judge her husband for committing the act and was not disappointed at him when he left her and Little Guy. Little Guy was in shock when he stood over his father’s dead body. He did not say anything besides his lines for the play. Little Guy‘s voice tone was angry and confused. In conclusion, there are two people in this world: those who can deal with life’s challenges and those who cannot.
Guy could not face the fact of staying in poverty and decided to escape and find freedom elsewhere. Lili dealt with life’s challenges so she could give their son a better life then what they had. Danticat did a fantastic job by incorporating a historical reference to this story. The similarity between Boukman and Guy were identical.
- Danticat, Edwidge “A Wall of Fire Rising. ” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed Alison Booth, et al. Portable 10th ed. New York: Norton, 2011. 232-244. Print.