Breath, Eyes, Memory
Edwidge Danticat

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At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impecunious village of Croix-des-Rosets, Haiti to New York, to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. Along her journey of getting to know her mother better, she discovers secrets that noexternal image Breath-Eyes-Memory-by-Edwidge-Danticat-Butler-Univeristy-Visitng-Writer-Indianapolis-Indiana1.jpg child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti to the women who first nurtured her. What ensues is a passionate journey through a landscape charged with the supernatural and scarred by political violence, in a novel that bears witness to the traditions, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.

Characters [Main]
1. Sophie Caco: first-person narrator and protagonist. Martine's only daughter, Atie's aunt/ mother at charge, Ife's granddaughter, Joseph’s wife and Brigitte's mother. A child of rape, Sophie is raised in Crox- des- Rosets, Haiti by her maternal aunt Atie before being sent to New York by her mother at the age of twelve. As an adult, Sophie insomnia, bulimia external image kjhjhkjhkj.jpgand sexual phobia shadows her mother's own issues and insecurities.
2. Tante Atie: First guardian of Sophie, Martine's sister and daughter of Ife. Character of great perseverance, loving and caring for Sophie. She is illiterate and her best friend Louise teaches her how to read. Dealing with a lot of stress, she returns to alcohol.
3. Martine: Sophie's mother, Atie's sister and daughter to Ife. She was raped at the age of sixteen by a masket macoute in a sugar cane field. The rape left Martine with a child, Sophie and vivid lifetime nightmares. Martine continue to struggle to be a good mother to her daughter and a sexual adequate lover to Marc remain powerfully informed by the twin violations of rape and of her own mother's practice of "testing" for virginity.

The setting takes place in two different places, Haiti and New York. In Haiti, Sophie was too young to understand her family’s predicaments and the situation they were living in. In New York, she is now an adult and could recognize her family’s past secrets and learn from them. Croix-des-Rosets, Haiti (Sophie's birth to age twelve); Brooklyn, New York (ages 12–18); thereafter, Brooklyn, NY, Providence, RI and Port-au-Prince and La Nouvelle Dame Marie, Haiti. The child of rape and the heir of wounded but resilient women, Sophie Caco attempts to grow into herself as a woman, wife, mother and daughter, fighting the weight of a difficult inheritance and making peace with her mother's ghosts.

Literary Devices

1. The Marassa:mythical lovers who are so close they share the same soul. In Breath, Eyes, Memory, the Marassa symbolize narrative doubles, lovers, and parallel and opposite characters. The rapist is set against Joseph, Sophie's loving husband and father figure to Brigitte.
2.Testing: It mimics the mechanics of rape, the obsession with female virginity and a cult of purity in which the woman's body becomes a symbol of her family's and husband's pride, worth and honor.
Erzulie: The Haitian goddess of love and power. It symbolizes courage, desirability and strength. In Breath, Eyes, Memory, The Erzulie is the ideal mother of Sophie. The comforter of women and the desire of men. She is a comples goddess affiliated with the Virgin Mary and with an opulent, abundant sexuality.

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In Breath, Eyes, Memory Edwidge Danticat the parable of the bleeding woman, the parable of the little girl and the lark, Sophie's first glimpse of the Macoutes beating Dessalines in the Dame Marie marketplace, the cry of 'Ou liberé?' between women vendors in the marketplace, Sophie's wish in the New York mail center to return to Haiti, Martine's attempts to abort her first pregnancy, Grandmè Ifé's preparations for a funeral.

Literary Criticism
“Edwidge Daniticat is a name anyone who appreciates serious, well-wrought fiction would do well to continue watching for. Her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, is a marvelous literary achievement...."
“Near the end Breath, Eyes, Memory flirts with becoming a pamphlet in favor of psychotherapy.... The title is a bit- well- breathless. For a reviewer with experience and knowledge if Haiti, Danticat consistently strikes the right chords."
" With her large talent and her commercial good fortune at being and author with a "multicultural" background, Danticat should go far. One awaits eagerly her next novel and her book of short stories both said to be in progress"
Essay by Etham Casey
"One of the charms of Danticat's book is its evocation of Haitian cultural tradition and the force of proverbial wisdom. Their characters, set against the tragedy of Martine's life, make the book not only powerful but positive."
Charolette H. Bruner Iowa State University

Personal Review

Breath, Eyes, Memory is a book that I would definitely recommend to anyone. The book has a lot of excitement. This book is perfect for those who do not understand the Haitian culture and would learn more about it. Breath, Eyes, Memory is speechless leaving your jaw dropped!

Edwidge Danticat Biography
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Edwidge Danticat was born on January 19, 1969 in Port-au-Prince, (1969-01-19)Haiti and lived there for the first twelve years of her live. She came to the United States in 1981, joining her parents who had already begun to build a life for themselves in NYC. Attending school in Brooklyn, she had difficulty fitting in with her classmates because of her Haitian accent, clothing and, style. As an adolescent, she began work on what would evolve into her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory. Life in Haiti was very difficult. She lived through poverty and fear. She never really knew her parents; she would share a room with a distant relative, a woman who was more than one hundred years old. In Haiti, people would accept death in their lives because it would come around so often. Danticat never understood her parents’ absence. Edwidge would have to deal with the Haitian culture “san manman” motherless that would symbolize for a hoodlum or someone who knows no boundaries of human decency.


Works Cited
Danticat, Edwidge. Breath, Eyes, Memory: [a Novel]. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1994. Print.
"SparkNotes: Breath, Eyes, Memory: Character List." SparkNotes: Today's Most Popular Study Guides. Web. 16 May 2010. <>.
"SparkNotes: Breath, Eyes, Memory: Summary." SparkNotes: Today's Most Popular Study Guides. Web. 16 May 2010. <>.
"SparkNotes: Breath, Eyes, Memory: Themes, Motifs and Symbols." SparkNotes: Today's Most Popular Study Guides. Web. 18 May 2010. <>.
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