Geoffrey Webb – A Wall of Fire Rising

A Wall of Fire Rising, by Edwidge Danticat is an interesting story of hope and longing for something more. The three main characters in Danticat’s story, Little Guy, Guy, and Lili, each symbolize something that all people wish to have.

Little Guy is a pure form of innocence. He is unaware of the conditions in which he lives, seemingly unknowing of the fact that his family is poor and the struggle it takes his parents to put a nights meal on the table.

Guy shows us the inner turmoil of a person who wishes they could achieve more in life. Guy asks his wife “How do you think a man is judged”. Later that night he answers his question when he says “I know because I remember my father, who was  a very poor struggling man all his life. I remember him as  a man I would never want to be.” Just like anyone Guy wants to make a better life for his family and have them remember him not as a poor, hardworking, laborer in the sugarcane fields, but as a man who provided for his son and wife and gave them a good and decent life.

Guy also sees something in the hot air balloon. He sees freedom. Guy wants to fly above the shanty village. In a way this is guy putting himself above everyone in the village. He does not believe he will ever achieve fame or fortune, but by piloting the balloon above the heads of all of those who are his “equals” he can in a way be better than them by physically rising above them in the balloon. However, once Guy manages to do this he does something that is unexpected; he jumps. Guy’s suicide might be seen as many things. An escape from his hard life. Freedom from the toils. Or maybe he thought he had risen so high that the fall would not harm him.

The final character in the story is the wife and mother Lili. She has hope for Guy and for Little Guy. She believes that her son can achieve something out of his life, that he can excel to places that she and her husband never could. At one point she begs Guy to not put Little Guy on the list to work in the fields. She says that by doing this would “influence his destiny”. She has hope throughout the story that even though they are now poor, her son will one day become educated and achieve something with his life.


~ by Geoffrey Webb on September 18, 2011.

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