A mill, where a large screen is displayed to

A
Wall of Fire Rising is a
short story written by Edwidge Danticat . This story was first published in
1995. The short story focuses on a small family of three, consisting of Guy,
Little Guy, and Lilli.  Lilli is a stay
at home mother, Guy works unusual jobs to take care of his family, and their
son Little Guy attends school. One day Little Guy rushes home from school eager
to tell his parents that he had been given a role in a play at school. Little
Guy’s good news took over his mother’s attention,  who forgot that her husband Guy also was
eager share a story. Little Guy constantly recites his lines of the play to his
parents, sometimes annoying his father Guy, who was tired of hearing it. The
play was about a Haitian Revolutionary by the name of Boukman.  The family eats cornmeal mush for dinner,
whenever Guy found small jobs that allowed him to afford it. The family lives
in a small, poor town known as Shantytown. As a source of entertainment,
individuals from the community gather by the sugar mill, where a large screen
is displayed to show the current news. Lilli, Guy, and Little Guy do not
associate with the individuals from their community. Instead they found more of
an entertain from Assad’s hot air balloon. The Assad’s are the wealthy owners
of the sugar mill . Guy is completely obsessed with the air balloon and
constantly tries to reach his hand through the chain-linked fence in order to
touch it.  Guy is finally given the
chance to share his story with Lilli, letting her know that he got a job
working at the Sugar Mill. Lilli was concerned at the fact that her husband was
not excited about the new job. She began questioning him and Guy admitted that
he did not like the position he was given. 
Guy’s mind constantly wonders back to the thought of him flying the air
balloon , and the possibility of flying the balloon to somewhere where live
would be better than where they are now. Guy questions Lilli about her thoughts
on how a man is judged after they are gone. Lilli responds and Guy immediately
remembers his father and began to compare himself to his father, whom he did
not want to be like. One morning Lilli encountered her son Little Guy at the
house. Little Guy was looking up to the sky with a distraught look on his face.
Lilli looked up into the sky to see Guy flying inside of the air balloon. Lilli
and Little Guy made their way to the Sugar Mill to find a crowd gathered to
watch Guy fly the air balloon. People from the community began screaming as Guy
jumped from the air balloon and landed close by the crowd. The balloon kept
floating in the distance meanwhile Guy bled to death. Lilli looks at her
husband one last time, and refused to shut his eyes because Guy enjoyed looking
at the sky.

 

Analysis:

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The
title of the short story ” A Wall of Fire Rising” is significant to the story.
The title comes from a line of the play that Little Guy is reciting for school.
The play is about Boukman, who is  a
Haitian Revolutionary. Freedom plays a huge role in the background of the
story. Guy and Lilli constantly have freedom on their minds, meanwhile Little
Guy does not necessarily know what freedom means. Lilli and Guy face struggles
in their daily lives such as finding a job, and also finding a meal to eat.
They are a poor family, who sometimes had to come up with other ways to kill
hunger when food wasn’t available. Guy’s definition of freedom is being able to
provide for his family, something that his father was unable to do. A lack of a
steady job made Guy feel worthless, and increased his fear of becoming like his
own father. Guy constantly questions Lilli about her thoughts on how a man is
judged after they are gone. This makes Lilli fear that Guy will leave her and
Little Guy in his quest for freedom. After Guy’s suicide, Lilli’s fears became
her reality. The hot air balloon symbolizes freedom in the story. Guy
continuously admires the balloon and bird, and their ability to fly freely in
the sky. Guy often fantasizes about flying the balloon with the hopes that he
will be able to escape the harsh realities of life and hopes of a better
future. The balloon also symbolizes wealth. It is owned by the Sugar Mill
owners known as the Assad family, who were the wealthiest in the town.
Individuals within the community a long with Guy knows that they will never be
able to afford a hot air balloon. At the end of the story, Guy uses the balloon
as his way of committing suicide. This is because he may have felt that
committing suicide was the only way out of the harsh realities of his life and
to the only way to achieve freedom. The author uses foreshadowing to give clues
earlier in the story about Guy’s suicide. When Guy and Lilli have discussions
about their son’s future, Guy uses terms such as “you” instead of “we”. This
hints at the fact that Guy probably will not be around for much longer.  Lilli did not know that her husband’s
fantasies about the air balloon and his questions about life after he’s gone
would turn out to be her reality. 

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