The Natural Fear of the Extraordinary
The natural human response to evil is to react with evil. In many cases, the original evil is inspired by fear. This is often the case in the stories in Krik?Krak!. Two of the stories, “Nineteen thirty-seven” and “Between the Pool and the Gardenias”, demonstrate this fear of the incomprehensible which is often the use of magic. “Nineteen thirty-seven” is a story from the perspective of a girl whose mother has been imprisoned, by a broken Haitian Government, for being accused of having wings of flame. It follows her through her walk to the prison and then her discussions with her mother and some other inmates. Ultimately, the story concludes with her mother’s death and a recollection of the girl’s memories with her. “Between the Pool and the Gardenias,” takes place from the first person point of view of a housemaid named Marie who recently left her home in a small village. She left her old life behind to start anew because of a cheating husband and several miscarriages that ruined her life. One day while walking home, she finds a baby abandoned in the streets and decides to claim it as her own. She is later accused of killing the baby for magic, despite it having been dead since before she found her, furthering her maternal misfortune. The common occurrence in both stories is evil resulting from the fear of magic. The fear of magic’s evils actually causes true evil and leads to hatred.
Things that people cannot comprehend, more often than not, intimidate them because they don’t understand it. This is why people are often afraid of magic. In “Nineteen thirty-seven,” the girl describes her visit to her mother in prison. In the beginning of the story, while approaching the prison, she talks about the reason her mother is in prison: “the police in the city really knew how to hold human beings trapped in cages, even women like manman who was accused of having wings of flame” (35). There was no proof of her even having the wings because it’s not possible for humans to have wings let alone wings of flame. Despite this she was still thrown in prison by the brutal militia, the Tonton Macoutes. Not only was she wrongly put in prison, but she was forced to endure horrible conditions. When the two were talking, after her mother falsely tells her that she had not been treated badly, the girl based on her own knowledge states, “the guards made them throw tin cups of cold water at one another so that their bodies would not be able to muster up enough heat to grow those wings made of flames” (37). The guards are so afraid of human women growing mystical wings of flame that they make them throw cups of water on each other. To anyone reading or hearing about this it seems ridiculous, but this was seen as necessary by the guards in order to prevent these witches from using their powers. They were not just afraid of the women themselves but also of their corrupted spirits. The way the girl’s mother was treated in “Nineteen thirty-seven” represents how deep the fear of magic was in Haiti, and how when people can not comprehend something that fear of not understanding leads to evil acts.
So long as people are afraid of magic their fear will inspire and lead to deep hatred. Marie experiences the hatred from her own employers in “Between the Pool and the Gardenias.” When she is preparing lunch for them she talks about what they say about her behind her back. She knows that they say, “she is probably one of those manbos… She’s probably one of those stupid people who think that they have a spell to make themselves invisible and hurt other people… It’s that voodoo nonsense that’s holding us Haitians back” (95). The way they speak about this woman when they think she can not hear is an indicator of the irrational disdain they have for her. They accuse her of wanting to hurt other people and contributing to the demise of an entire country simply for her alleged belief in magic. Not only do they despise her for something they know nothing about, they do not even know whether or not she actually uses magic. The sole reason they hate her is because they are afraid of what they are unsure of. Similarly the fear of magic causes unnecessary hate later in the story. When the woman finishes burying the baby Rose, the pool boy whom she had once loved approaches her. He then asks her where she had taken the child from, but did not give her the opportunity to answer. The pool boy had already called the authorities, and had assumed she killed the baby for so called evil magical purposes. When she pleads with him telling him that he knows her and that she wouldn’t do that, the pool boy’s response is, “I don’t know you from the fly on a pile of cow manure” (99). The association most people have with cow manure is the awful stench of it. However, when you know and realize that cow manure helps to nurture the growth of beautiful flowers it does not seem the same. This is the same in that the pool boy shows such hatred towards the woman because he does not know who she really is, he is simply afraid of what she could be. In conclusion, the fear of something, especially magic, is the cause of deep and unwavering hatred.
Finally, the hatred, which is caused by the fear of magic, inspires horrible mistreatment of others. The guards in the prison in “Nineteen thirty-seven” display these abuses based on their hatred for the feared witches. When the girl describes her mother’s appearance when she sees her in jail she says, “Her teeth were a dark red, as though caked with blood from the initial beating during her arrest” (36). One key description that sticks out, is that she describes her mother’s teeth as caked in blood. The emphasis on the level of blood implies they are covered in blood, and rather not that there is simply a little blood. Another potential indication of her word choice is that the beatings have happened multiple times after the time of her first beating. The description of the beatings describes how the guards’ fear of these women caused them to physically abuse them. These beatings may have been the worst of the guards’ abuse, yet it was not the only. They also took actions to demoralize the women and essentially take their femininity. The daughter explains, again after her mother’s false claims of being treated well, that all the women in the prison face a specific abuse: “The guards shaved her head every week” (36). It was not enough that the guards beat the women, but it was also necessary to strip them of their feminine identities through their hair. The daughter later realizes this when she sees all the women in the yard, she thinks to herself, “ I realized that they wanted make them look like crows, like men” (39). The guards very much succeeded in their goal of stripping the women of their femininity, and their sole motivating factor, was the hatred they developed for these women because of fear. The heinous actions are often caused by pure hatred stemming from fear.
All things considered, true evils often occur because of hatred, induced by the fears of magic. Magic often frightens people because it is something they cannot comprehend. The people surrounding the women in “Nineteen thirty-seven” are a perfect example of being fearful of unknown anomalies. The fear of magic leads into hatred, which is shown by the way people act towards the woman in “Between the Pool and the Gardenias.” The hatred finally developed from the fear triggers horrible actions from people. When people face the incomprehensible it often scares them. In turn, when people are scared they form a hatred for the things that scare them. Hatred causes horrible things that happen however it all is a direct product of fear, and in this case the fear of magic.
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