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Breath, Eyes, Memory

Edwidge Danticat

Section Two: Chapters 9–12

Section One: Chapters 7–8

Section Two: Chapters 9–12, page 2

page 1 of 3

Chapter 9

Six years have passed. Sophie is eighteen and will be starting college in the fall. Martine still works long hours, but her work has begun to pay off. She and Sophie have just moved to a small house in a nicer neighborhood near Marc, which they have decorated in red. Meanwhile, Sophie has spent six years studying hard. Though she secretly hated high school at the Maranatha Bilingual Institution, and the years of being mocked by the public school students across the road, she has survived the experience and, in the process, has become an English speaker.

During this time Sophie has known no men but Marc. Now, Sophie finds herself immediately attracted to the older saxophonist next door. One day, while Martine is at work, he stops by to ask if he can use Sophie's phone. He is Joseph, an African-American jazz musician who grew up speaking French Creole in Louisiana.

The next week, by way of thanks, Joseph comes by with a sandwich and invites Sophie to come by anytime. He is gentle, careful and kind. Sophie begins to spend her days with him while Martine works, playing music and talking. At night, his saxophone sounds a lullaby through the walls.

Late one evening, after Martine has left for her night job, Joseph takes Sophie out to eat. When they return, he tells her she is beautiful, and makes a point of not trying anything physical. Sophie begins to realize how deeply she likes him.

Chapter 10

The following night Martine comes home early so that she and Sophie can go out alone. On the subway, Sophie asks Martine if she will ever return to Haiti. Martine replies that although she will go back to help Grandmè Ifé plan for her funeral, staying for more than several days would be too painful.

Wanting to tell her mother about her love, but knowing that Martine will disapprove of Joseph, Sophie invents a fictitious boyfriend, Henry Napoleon, who has just recently returned to Haiti. Later, Martine makes inquiries, and is told by a friend that Henry Napoleon is an upstanding Haitian boy studying to be a doctor. Satisfied, Martine awaits his return. Meanwhile, Sophie pines for Joseph, away on tour.

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