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Breath, Eyes, Memory

Edwidge Danticat

Section Four: Chapters 32–33

Section Three: Chapters 30–31

Section Four: Chapters 32–33, page 2

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Summary

Chapter 32

Sophie discusses her flight to Haiti with her therapist, Rena, a beautiful black woman and initiated Santeria priestess. They discuss Sophie's situation in familiar but objective terms, while going for a walk by the river behind Rena's office. Rena is surprised that Sophie felt ready for the confrontational therapy of going directly to Haiti. Sophie tells her about finding out that the practice of testing was passed along from mother to daughter throughout her maternal line. Though she tried to express her anger about testing to her grandmother, Sophie realized that her grandmother had simply been doing something that made her feel like a good mother. Where Rena wants Sophie to confront her conflicted feelings about Martine, Sophie would prefer to re-imagine her mother as someone she is meeting again for the first time.

When Sophie explains her mother's current turmoil, Rena suggests that Martine's failure to symbolically give the rapist a face has allowed him to exert enormous influence over her, an influence that the pregnancy is bringing to the fore. She asks Sophie to imagine her mother in the sexual act. Sophie knows, viscerally, that her mother does not enjoy sex, although she probably tries to endure it, as Sophie does with Joseph. Rena points out that Sophie's own willingness to put up with sex simply to keep Joseph is evidence of a larger fear of abandonment. Sophie agrees, adding that her daughter is the only person in the world who will never leave her. Rena replies that Martine's fears of Sophie being with a man stem from exactly this feeling.

Rena suggests that Sophie and Martine must return to Haiti together, to the place where the rape occurred, to put an end to the ghosts.

Chapter 32

The next Saturday, as promised, Sophie and Joseph go with Brigitte to visit Martine and Marc. Martine is in high spirits, bent on pleasing Joseph. Marc introduces himself formally and then returns to cooking while Martine takes Joseph on the tour of the house he never got. In the back yard, Martine carefully shows Joseph how to sprinkle chopped pickle peppers on his plantains.

Over dinner, Marc attempts to draw Joseph into a discussion of music, wanting to know what Joseph plays and whether there is money in it. Martine winks, and Sophie sees that her mother has a plan to make Joseph love her. Speaking quietly, Martine tells Sophie that she has made a decision, but does not specify.

When the discussion turns to Joseph's Southern roots, Martine's plan begins. She tells Joseph that she feels she could have been Southern African-American, and that she used to go to a Southern church in Harlem for the Negro spirituals. Martine asks Joseph to explain spirituals to Marc. Joseph says that spirituals are prayers set to music, songs of freedom and the passage to another world. He begins to hum fragments. Later, when pressed, Martine sings her favorite spiritual: "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child…. A long ways from home." After the rendition, everyone claps, including Brigitte. Martine asks to have the song sung at her funeral.

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