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Breath, Eyes, Memory

Edwidge Danticat

Section Three: Chapters 19–21

Section Three: Chapters 16–18

Section Three: Chapters 19–21, page 2

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Summary

Chapter 19

The next morning, Atie is excited because she and Louise have decided to make a trip to the city to officially register themselves in the archives. Grandmè Ifé claims that people who are worth remembering do not need their names on pieces of paper. After Louise and Atie have gone, Sophie takes a photograph of Grandmè Ifé with Brigitte.

Later, while Brigitte naps, Sophie looks at photographs and thinks back to her first months with Joseph. Sophie spent two days in a hospital in Providence and four weeks with stitches between her legs recovering from having broken her own hymen with a pestle. Their wedding night, though weeks later, was extremely painful for Sophie. Though Joseph could not understand why she would have done such a thing to herself, he was very sensitive to it, taking pains to make sure she really wanted to try sex. Despite his professions, Sophie felt that sex was her duty to him, as he is the only person left in the world watching over her. As a result of that night, she became pregnant with Brigitte.

Chapter 20

Having successfully registered, Louise comes over for supper, bringing a pig as a gift. Meanwhile, Atie has been to the city post office and brings a cassette from Martine. On the cassette, Martine says that she received a telephone call from Joseph saying that although he had left Sophie at home with Brigitte while he was on tour, he has been calling home repeatedly and is unable to find her. Joseph wondered if Sophie was with Martine. As the pig begins to squeal in the background, Sophie stops the cassette. Atie asks if it isn't time that Sophie and Martine reconciled.

Chapter 21

After dinner, Atie reads some poetry from her notebook before strolling into the night with Louise. Grandmè Ifé takes the tape player into her own room to hear the rest of Martine's message. Later that night, Sophie takes Brigitte outside to look at the starts and finds Atie on the back porch, feeding the pig. Atie is depressed, feeling that her life is one long string of duties and restraints without tangible rewards.

The next morning Louise arrives in tears to announce that the Macoutes have killed Dessalines, the coal seller. Louise is terrified that she may be next. Grandmè Ifé declares that the Caco women have already had their turn with the Macoutes, and orders Sophie to keep Brigitte behind the threshold of the house until Dessalines' spirit is laid to rest. Nicknamed for the tonton macoutes, or bogeymen, of fairy tales, the secret police follow no known rules. Whereas ordinary criminals work in secret, the Macoutes walk around in broad daylight, unapologetically effecting terror.

Dessalines' death brings to mind all manner of frightening memories. It is likely that the man who pulled sixteen-year-old Martine into a cane field on her way home from school, raped, and beat her was a Macoute. Pregnant, terrified and half-insane, Martine went to work in the house of a rich mulatto family who knew Grandmè Ifé in Croix-des-Rosets.

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