“The Missing Peace” Book by Edwidge Danticat
“The Missing Peace” is a novel in the book Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat. She is an American writer of Haitian descent whose works tell about women’s lives and their relationships, mainly reflecting the problems of power, injustice, and poverty. “The Missing Peace” displays the story of a teenage girl Lamort and a journalist Emilie Gallant, revealing their past, relationships with their mothers, and the truth about their value and destiny. In addition, the story puts an emphasis on the concept of inner and external peace for each character.
The main character of the story is a fourteen-year-old girl Lamort. Her mother died giving birth to Lamort; the daughter’s name means “death” in French, reminding the tragic event. She meets an American journalist Emilie Gallant who rents two rooms in the boarding house. Her intentions are to know whether her mother, killed for investigations of politically motivated murders in Haiti, was buried in the cemetery. Another character is a young macoute Raymond, who participated in the regime change. During their visit to the graveyard, they face soldiers; but Raymond helps them, and young women return home. The central focus of “The Missing Peace” is role models of female characters’ regarding their behavior and aims. Lamort is encouraged by the bravery and intelligence of Emilie, who is ready to risk to succeed in her purpose. Consequently, Lamort begins to reevaluate her position in her family, determining her own beliefs and values.
The central theme is the mother-daughter relationships; it can be discussed in the example of Emilie’s and Lamort’s connection to their deceased mothers and the bond between Lamort’s grandmother and granddaughter. As long as in most stories it is parents who sacrifice themselves for their children, “The Missing Peace” shows an opposite situation. As Emilie wants to know about her mother’s death, she puts her life at risk while asking specific questions. She asks whether Lamort saw or heard anything about her mother, “Do you remember any shootings the night of the coup? Did you see any of the bodies?” (Danticat 63). It might be dangerous to go to the churchyard, but the journalist is convinced that she should see her mother’s remains. It is vital for her as it is considered the path to find herself as a woman; according to Emilie, a girl becomes a woman after losing her mother (Danticat 69). Therefore, readers can reflect it is not the mother who does everything for her daughter, but the child puts herself in danger for the mother’s and her own sake.
The story also reveals the relationships between Lamort and her mother. Even though her parent died in childbirth, the girl’s name identifies this death. It places a heavy burden on the daughter as she always remembers who caused that loss and who should take responsibility for this painful event. Even though the parent and the child never had contact, the grandmother determined the essence of their connection. Older woman translates the burden of her daughter’s passing to her granddaughter, mostly comparing them. She says, “See, you can be a pretty girl. You can be a very pretty girl. Just like your mother used to be” (Danticat 61). However, at the end of the story, Lamort becomes capable of controlling the relationships with her mother, “I want you to call me Marie Magdalene” (Danticat 70). As a result, she chooses to be named in her mother’s honor instead of her death.
One of the significant themes in the story is the peace reflected in the title. The author uses wordplay with “peace” and “piece”; for Raymond, the first word served as a password that allowed him to evade death (Danticat 59). At present, it has no value, “The password has changed. Stop saying peace” (Danticat 68). However, it saves the life of Emilie and Lamort, according to the words of Raymond, “Don’t ever forget it if you’re in trouble. It could save your life” (Danticat 59). Moreover, throughout the narrative, it becomes evident that the journalist misses Isabella, her mother. She remembers such details as her favorite color, her desire to sew old pieces of cloth onto one; consequently, Emilie needs one piece to finish the work (Danticat 68). Hence, until Emili finds her mother’s grave, there is no inner peace due to unresolved questions about her mother’s fate. Regarding Lamort, she notes that peace is fragile, knowing how quickly her relationships with macoutes can change from friendly interaction to violence. Thus, “The Missing Peace” refers to lacking peace for all characters of the story.
To sum up, “The Missing Peace” is a story about a character’s freedom and courage to take control over the past and future. The central themes are mother-daughter relationships, their impact on the characters’ present, and the searching for inner peace. Despite the absence of the latter, there is a hopeful ending. Emilie lost her mother and other dreams, being able to start over. Overall, Lamort could find the inner force to choose between whether she was a poignant reminder of her mother’s death or an individual with her future.
Danticat, Edwidge. Krik? Krak!. Soho Press, 2015.