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Breath, Eyes, Memory

Edwidge Danticat

Section One: Chapters 7–8

Section One: Chapters 4–6

Section One: Chapters 7–8, page 2

page 1 of 2

Chapter 7

Martine takes Sophie shopping to see the neighborhood. At Haiti Express, they mail a cassette to Atie, while Sophie wishes she could shrink herself to fit in the package. Next, they buy Sophie some school clothes. Martine has heard horror stories from other Haitian mothers about the difficulties their children have had fitting in, and she exhorts Sophie to learn English quickly.

Later, Martine takes Sophie to meet Marc, her long-term boyfriend. Marc is a well-dressed, relatively affluent Haitian lawyer, who works in a peaceful, well- kept neighborhood removed from the graffiti and chaos of Martine's apartment. Marc warmly greets Martine, formally introduces himself to Sophie as Marc Jolibois Francis Legrand Moravien Chevalier, and promises to take Sophie and Martine out that evening.

That night, Marc takes Sophie and Martine to a hole-in-the-wall Haitian restaurant in New Jersey that he claims is the best in America. Since his mother's death, Marc has been trying to find a restaurant that can match her delicious Haitian cooking. The restaurant is tiny and lively, packed with Haitians discussing politics and the diaspora. Martine introduces Sophie to the waiter, who looks long and hard into her face. Sophie cringes under his gaze, knowing she looks nothing like her mother.

Dinner is somewhat awkward. The food comes very late, and Sophie notices Martine and Marc eyeing each other as if there are things they cannot say because of her. Marc, speaking in a slightly patronizing voice, asks Sophie what she would like to become, and is not impressed by her ambition to become a secretary. Meanwhile, Martine maintains that Sophie will become a doctor, and that she will not even consider dating before the age of eighteen.

Chapter 8

In the summer months before school starts, Sophie spends her time at work with Martine. Martine works days at a nursing home, cleaning up after bedridden old people while Sophie watches TV in the lounge. At night, Martine babysits an invalid old woman, sleeping on the floor by her bed while Sophie sleeps on a cot in the living room.

One night at the invalid woman's home toward the end of the summer, Sophie becomes lonely and homesick on her cot and asks Martine to stay in the room with her. Martine cannot stay, but she lingers to talk. Sophie tells her that she wishes she could get a job as well in order to alleviate her mother's fatigue, but Martine dismisses this suggestion, insisting that Sophie's job is to educate herself. Looking into Sophie's face, Martine asks her if she, Martine, was the mother that Sophie had imagined. As a child, Sophie had imagined her mother like Erzulie, the vaudou loa and Virgin Mother, "the healer of all women and the desire of all men." But Sophie tells Martine that she couldn't ask for better.

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