The Misery of Pointless Dreams in A Wall of Fire Rising
I love watching phenomena in little kids that they feel like they need a certain toy or the universe will explode. Their whole world revolves around that one thing. But, once they get that toy, it’s no longer fun to them. Their joy fades away, and they want something else. Until we appreciate what we currently have, more won’t make our lives better. The guy in the story of “The Wall of Rising Fire,” by Edwich Danticat resemble characters similar to those spoiled kids. He mistook his fantasy of the hot air balloon with desire and passion for freedom. He tries to find the joy in his life in that balloon, but in the end, when he finally gets into it, all his joy fades away. Ultimately, he’s unsuccessful achieving his goals, even though he tried very hard.Danticat demonstrates a haunting tale of a poor peasant working man named Guy who struggles with his beliefs and desires. The guy is struggling against economic and political difficulty, as well as personal problems of despair and self-hatred. He is fascinated with the hot air balloon. The narrator mentions, “as they approached the fence surrounding the field where the large basket and balloon rested on the ground, Guy let go of the hands of both his wife and the boy” (Danticat 370). As soon as he sees the hot air balloon, at the very moment, he loses his sense of direction and changes his life focus from family to the balloon. Guy admires the hot air balloon as if it’s his only companion. He knows that he can’t have the life of his dreams in that country. So he plans to fly away in the balloon to start a better life.
This is where he starts to fail at his attempts to be successful.If we see Guy’s life through his perspective, he’s a broken man, who has lost at every stage of life. In the article, “To Dare to Dream: The Characters of Danticat’s ‘A Wall of Fire is Rising’” the author Calhoun Kersten comments “he struggles to do the honorable thing and whatever it takes to support his family, but in the end he finds himself wanting more.” In other words, he is frustrated with his inability to give his family enough to eat and ashamed of the menial work he does. The narrator mentions the family conditions as “when things were really bad for the family, they boiled clean sugarcane pulp to make what Lili called her special sweet water tea” (Danticat 375). Although, he loves Lili and is proud of Little Guy, they remind him of his failure. Guy’s silence after Lili asked him “If you were to take that balloon and fly, would you take me and the boy?” (Danticat 376) It’s evident that he’s even ready to leave his loved ones behind to pursue a life of dreams. Kersten described human kind to be always fascinated with something. He argues “You can’t always get what you want, but you always want what you can’t get.”
The same way Guy was fascinated with the idea of a wealthy life where he can fulfill all his needs. Focused on pursuing his desire and fantasy, Guy forgets that his real happiness is in the journey of life. Although in the end, he finds the hot air balloon as his path to escape from poverty, that path didn’t end to a happy life. Before he was introduced to the balloon, he had the same life, but he had no reason to quit it. The day he saw hot air balloon, all his world started revolving around it that one hot air balloon. He wants to escape the unjust cycle of life which he hated just because of his financial insecurities doesn’t seem to be on his side. He ignored all the leisure that he had with his family; most people in the world usually don’t get this luxury, and he abuses it. He’s ready to give away his family to pursue his desire and dreams. The guy is so focused on his dreams that he loses a sense of the real world. Guy lets his wants rule him.
The problem is that he could never be wealthy, the circumstances of his life prevent it. Kersten stipulates “when Guy’s dreams are recognized as just that, merely dreams, he no longer feels the need to work towards anything, knowing that it will be fruitless.” Guy already had a struggling life, and he made it even worse by following his dreams blindly. He thought he’d be happy and free if he goes away in that balloon. But at the end, when Guy finally takes that hot air balloon on a journey, his joy fades away, and he realizes that his joy is not where he can enjoy all the luxuries of life but where his wife and son are standing by his side in all circumstances, and he jumps out of the basket. Guy’s death can’t be considered as his success because he failed at finding his true desire. All his life he tried to find joy and happiness in wealth and overlooked the valuable things that he had. For him, there was no hope in Haiti, so he looked upon the hot air balloon as his only hope to freedom. But following his dreams of freedom he crushed dreams of his son to ever aim dreams high in the sky.
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