Literary Analysis Essay on A Wall of Fire Rising by Edwidge Danticat

Published: 2021-07-27
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Boston College
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Literature review
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A Wall of Fire Rising' is a short story by a Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat regarding the cultures and experiences of Haiti. The story focuses on a three-person family that consists of the father Guy, his wife Lili and their seven years old son Little Guy who lives in a small single-roomed house in Shantytown in Haiti. The guy is the head of this family had difficulties in getting a job to sustain his family which made him plan to fly the hot air balloon that belongs to local sugar mill owner and goes away to start a new life. The author set her story in Haiti, and the characters are living in a deplorable condition, and with this, she tries to explain that, it is human to dream for something more in life.

The setting of the story in a poor village of Shantytown in Haiti puts Guy into difficult situations until later in the story he makes a wrong decision and commits suicide. Poverty in Shantytown forces Guy to live in a poorly structured one-roomed house but regardless of his miserable life, he is a good father and a husband. He struggles in all ways possible to support his family. Guy finds himself wanting more than he could get and wanted to do more for his family without a struggle when he says, "I just want to take that big balloon and ride it up in the air. I'd like to sail off somewhere and keep floating until I get to a nice place with a nice plot of land where I could be something new." (Danticat, 244). Poverty in Shantytown imposes Guy to no longer feel the need of working towards anything. Being brought up by a weak father and a weak surrounding makes him feel hopeless. This reflects when he says, "I know because I remember my father, who was an impoverished, struggling man all his life. I remember him as a man that I would never want to be." (Danticat, 245). Nonetheless, his wife acknowledges him because they did not lack food but this never satisfied him. He additionally appeared as though he figured his life could not show signs of improvement and he was bound to be unsuccessful and miserable in his life. The guy seems to be embarrassed about taking every necessary step that could give him a better living. Shantytown affects Guy psychologically until he losses hope for a better future for himself and his family, he at long last loses his will to live. Due to poverty and misery, Guy jumps off from the hot air balloon and kills himself to let go the wretched life of his hometown.

The sugar mill in Shantytown, Haiti where the story is set impacts Little Guy by acting as the only hope the young boy. Little Guy who is a pupil visualizes the state of poverty that his family experiences and sometimes there was no kerosene for their lamp for him to do his studies. However, the sugar mill is the only source of employment in Shantytown. Even after completing his studies, Little Guy might end up working in this firm. His father has plans to sign him to the company so that when he grows up, he can directly secure a job in the sugar mill. His father says, "I was thinking of putting the boy on the list now, so maybe by the time he becomes a man he can be up for a job." (Danticat, 241)The sugar mill eradicates the young boy's hopes for a better future than that of his father. The only sign of hope is when the boy works eagerly to take in his lines, and when practicing, his parents gladly appreciate the extreme delight of hearing the voice of one of the ancestors of Haitian autonomy in the constrained baritone of their child. This shows that Little Guy has high hopes for his future rather than ending up in the sugar mill. Nonetheless, jobs in the sugar mill were scarce; this means that Little Guy might fail to secure a position there as per father's wish and end up living a miserable life for the rest of his life.

The single-roomed house with few necessities forces Lili to abide with poverty in her marriage. Lili has been going through a lot with her family despite the fact that she was not supposed to live a miserable life that her father-in-law led. The situation in Lili's house makes her give up her dreams and keep conceding her quest for happiness like a coping contrivance. The condition she is living in made her discomfort to take new opportunities and also have a fear for dreaming. The author states that whenever Guy asked Lili if she needed something new, she declined. "Don't you ever want something new?' I don't like it." (Danticat, 244) What matters in Lili's life is giving her best to her family. She lives in poorly structure single-roomed house and does her best to keep her family happy. The author tries to explain that when one is living in poverty, there are fewer avenues out. Lili however, generated a fear that, when her son is signed for work in the sugarcane mill, this will influence his destiny when she says, "For a young boy to be on any list like that might influence his destiny." (Danticat, 241). Lili is an example of a woman who gives away her happiness to ensure her family lives happily.


The short story, A Wall of Fire Rising' by Edwidge Danticat is setting is in a poor village of Shantytown in Haiti. The surrounding where the story is set is a sugar mill and a poorly structured single-roomed house where it lives a three-person family. The story proves that poverty can cause much in someone's life and can also cost one's life. The author tries to explain that, it is tough for someone to live in poverty and never lose hope. Nonetheless, it is significant to have something to strive on and hang on hope. Life comes with many breakdowns, but people have to assent the harsh conditions. If the author could have considered basing her story on another setting, for instance, in a national seeking for freedom, the story could have explained Guy's death as a way of freeing himself from the political violence. Political violence can develop a fear to many individual thus committing suicide. The author could have also reviewed poverty as a direct impact of this crisis.

Work Cited

Danticat, Edwidge. "A Wall of Fire Rising."." Krik? Krak (2009).

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