In 2009 the Brooklyn Children’s Museum did a program on Haiti cultural exchange titled: Krik? Krak! Storytelling & Songs at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. The program was the first in a series of cultural programs focusing on oral history traditions. Caroline’s Wedding a chapter in Krik? Krak!, explores the themes of cultural betweeness and assimilation of Haitian immigrant women who are trying to maintain their traditions while forming their identity in America. However, one should remember that these stories are not just Haitian stories. They are important for us to learn about the experiences of people who are part of our communities, and whose struggles reflect the story of American immigrants throughout history.
In Caroline’s Wedding, the two sisters Grace and Caroline live with their mother. While Caroline is an American citizen, her sister Grace is not. Grace says that when her parents were in Haiti they worried about having more children and struggling to take care of them. Her father decided to marry an American woman in order to get citizenship and be able to bring his family to America. This is one of the controversial issues of immigration, people are desperate to come to America and will marry American citizens in order to come here and get their family to America.
Although it seems dubious for people to get married to become citizens it demonstrates the lengths that people like Grace’s father will go to in order to bring his family to America and have a better life. Their desperation to become American has consequences for their own families and for society. Grace’s feelings towards getting her passport and becoming an American citizen depicts the feelings many refugees and immigrants feel about becoming citizens in this country. When she received her passport Grace stated that “For the first time in my life, I felt truly secure living in America,… we had all paid dearly for this piece of paper, this final assurance that I belonged in the club.”
Both Caroline and her mother rely on Grace to support them in their differences. Caroline is marrying an American and does not want a traditional Haitian wedding. Her mother disapproves of Eric, because he is Bahamian, not Haitian and is struggling to realize that her daughter is happy with him. Their mother is afraid that Eric wants to marry her to become noble and to raise his social standing in America. She is very superstitious and makes soup hoping that the soup will make Caroline not want to marry Eric. Her mother would like Caroline to marry a Haitian man, and have a Haitian wedding. Caroline is having an “outside of church wedding and her mother says, “so much like America, everything mechanical.” But throughout the story, she slowly accepts their marriage.
Another example is when Grace attends church with her mother. Her mother mourns for the refugees of Haiti who died at sea, and struggles with the fact that her children are assimilating into American culture. Grace feels more connected to her roots and feels empathy towards the Haitian refugees, while her sister does not attend church. Grace also reports having several dreams of her father when they are preparing for Caroline’s wedding. These dreams are symbolic of Grace’s cultural betweenness. Grace feels more connected to her Haitian roots than Caroline. Grace struggles to keep her Haitian stories, traditions, and history alive while assimilating and learning how to be an American. She is proud of getting her passport and that is something her family has always wanted and strived for, but she also wants to remember the stories, jokes, and advice of her family and her Haitian roots.
Grace demonstrates the cultural betweenness that many immigrants feel coming to a new country and trying to assimilate into a new cultural but also maintaining their roots. Grace feels like she is the in between child, having been raised when her parents were struggling to come to America.
This story brings up questions about what it is like to be an immigrant in America and to aspire to have American citizenship, culture, and opportunities. What does Grace and Caroline want to aspire to? Do they want the marriage and lifestyle of American women that Caroline has, or the educational opportunities that we often take for granted? Refugees often come to America with fear and hope for new opportunities. After reading this chapter, I think we should consider the opportunities or privileges we take for granted as American citizens.
Photograph from Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Archive: Krik? Krak! Storytelling & Songs at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. http://haiticulturalx.org/archive-krikkrak-storytelling-songs .
 Reginae M. Roumain. “Archive: Krik? Krak! Storytelling & Songs at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.”
Haiti Cultural Exchange. Brooklyn Children’s Museum. 10 August 2012. http://haiticulturalx.org/archive-krikkrak-storytelling-songs.
 Edwidge Danticat. Krik? Krak! “Caroline’s Wedding” pg. 214.
 Edwidge Danticat. Krik? Krak! “Caroline’s Wedding” pg. 197.
 Regine M. Roumain. Archive: Krik? Krak! Storytelling & Songs at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Brooklyn Children’s Museum. 10 August 2012. http://haiticulturalx.org/archive-krikkrak-storytelling-songs