The main themes of the short story “Fireweed” by Skye Brannon are trauma and guilt. A side theme is inequality, enhanced by the motif of violence. The author’s message is that Westerners are unaware of the hardships of immigrants and that war and violence leave a deep mark on those who experience it.
Trauma & Guilt
The theme of trauma and guilt is explored through the main character, Baluta/Joel. Baluta is a young man who has been through a horrific experience as a child in his home country Liberia, witnessing the killing of his family, unable to do anything to help them.
Trauma is usually defined as a painful, dramatic experience, which leaves a mark on a person for a very long time, if not forever.
Inequality is a side theme to the story, explored through the social setting in which the characters interact. In the present of the narrative, Baluta and his brother who come from Liberia are undergoing financial hardships and struggling to make a living.