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Published: 20-11-2019

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Mother-Daughter Relationship in Breath, Eyes, Memory

Sophie Caco, in Breath, Eyes, Memory, quotes her mother, “There’s a distinction between what a person desires and what’s good for them” (72). In Edwidge Danticat’s novel, there is conflict in between what Sophie desires and what her mother, Martine, believes is great for her. Although Sophie wants to reside in the great realm of Providence, her mother has a distinct idea of what is very good for her daughter—remaining pure till marriage, being the excellent, obedient daughter, and studying to turn into a medical professional. The narrative voice in Breath, Eyes, Memory conveys how Sophie wholly violates her mother’s concept of what is good for her Sophie becomes free from Martine in order to seek her Providence simply because she desires to finally put behind her the anguish of her mother’s horrifying previous.

Martine’s horrifying previous is one of the items that hyperlinks her to her daughter. The ultimate impression Sophie gets of her mother ahead of a six year time lapse in the narrative is the tragic story of how she was born. Part 1 ends with Martine divulging to Sophie that, “A man grabbed me from the side of the road, pulled me into a cane field, and place you in my body” (61). Martine and Sophie are now both linked by a rapist. Despite the fact that Sophie does not say it explicitly, the narrative voice connotes that she knows deep in her heart that anytime her mother sees her she is reminded of that horror of the evening she was raped, generating Sophie feel far more and far more disconnected from her mother. This really important revelation which Martine explains in such a calm, mollified tone shows that Martine does not want her daughter to be angry or grief-stricken alternatively, she wants Sophie to find out about her previous and bring her closer to her. Martine’s concept of what’s very good for her, being aware of about her father and Martine’s personal past, conflicts with Sophie’s notion of what she desires to know. Otherwise, there would not have been a six-year gap amongst the time she was told of her mother’s rape to the following scene.

Martine feels it needed to tell her daughter the value of ‘testing’ since as a tradition in her loved ones the thought of maintaining the kid clean and pure is of utmost priority. She explains to Sophie, “When I was a girl, my mother utilised to test us to see if we have been virgins. She would place her finger in our really private parts and see if it would go inside…The way my mother was raised, a mother is supposed to do that to her daughter until the daughter is married. It is her responsibility to hold her daughter pure” (60-61). As Sophie’s mother, Martine feels it is her duty to explain the reasoning behind testing her because it is what’s great for her. Once more, though Sophie does not want to have this carried out to her, that’s not crucial to Martine simply because it requirements to be done. Even her Tante Atie hated it, but it was necessary.

All through the novel, Martine tries to fit her daughter into a best frame and be a specific person that Sophie tries to break away from. Although this is but an additional way of bringing Sophie closer to her, Martine only pushes her away even further. When Marc asks Sophie what she desires to be, she says, “I want to do dactylo, be a secretary” (56). Martine, nevertheless, insists that, “She is too young now to know. You are going to be a doctor” (56), indicating the tension between mother and daughter. Sophie and Martine are diverse people with various intentions. Even although Martine wants her daughter to grow up to be a doctor, Sophie in no way establishes the connection in which she requires into consideration getting a doctor. Martine in no way seems to understand Sophie since she is too wrapped up in getting the ideal daughter who doesn’t go astray. Without having explicitly saying it, it is apparent via the narrative voice that Sophie knows what she wants—she ends up becoming a secretary. When Sophie returns to Haiti, Louise asks her, “What do you do in America, Sophie? What is your profession?” (99) to which Sophie responds, “A secretary.” (99).

No matter how significantly Martine tries, she fails to make Sophie match into the function of the Marassas twin. Martine describes, “They looked the same, talked the identical, walked the very same,” (84) indicating how she envisions the way she and her daughter need to be. Sophie, nevertheless, never ever viewed herself as Martine’s twin prior to this description of the Marassas. When she sees a picture of Atie, her mother, and herself in Martine’s home she says, “I looked like no one particular in my family. Not my mother. Not my Tante Atie. I did not appear like them when I was a child and I did not look like them now” (45). Not only was she not raised by her personal mother, but she didn’t even look like Martine. The narrative voice conveys that Sophie is observant however unruffled there is no sense of emotional reaction only an objective remark, indicating that it doesn’t make a difference to Sophie. When Marc requires Martine and Sophie out to dinner, Sophie as soon as once again thinks about the truth that she does not look like her mother solely by the waiter’s expression. She says, “He looked at us for a long time. 1st me, then my mother. I wanted to tell him to stop it. There was no resemblance among us. I knew it” (55). Sophie’s tone of voice conveys her irritation by now, she has accepted the truth that she and her mother look nothing at all like each and every other. There is no altering it.

Sophie violates her mother’s notion of becoming pure because she wants to break free of charge from Martine. She likens herself to the woman who would not quit bleeding when she says, “If she wanted to quit bleeding, she would have to give up her correct to be a human being” (87), in which Sophie herself would have to break her hymen in order to “break free” from her mother’s clutches. The night that she took the pestle to bed with her, although she knew it was “not great for her hymen to tear apart like so, she had felt that “there was no longer any purpose for me to live” (87), simply because her mother had been undertaking this horrible factor of testing her. If she could be totally free from her mother and her testing, she would consequently be cost-free from her mother’s past because she, also, had been tested. The pestle acts as a mechanism for Sophie to free of charge herself from her mother.

When Sophie runs away from residence to elope with her boyfriend Joseph, she totally goes against what her mother wanted for her. Sophie’s attempts to break free of charge from her mother has succeeded so far, due to the fact she wants to reach that Providence that she has till now unable to attain. The second element ends with Sophie departing from her mother’s residence and leaving for a life with Joe, as soon as once again performing what she wants to do even even though in her mother’s eyes it is not what is excellent for her. If she lives her whole life beneath her mother’s control she would be tortured forever by her mother’s past and would by no means be “liberated” from it. When she had lived in Haiti, she was supported by her mother’s weekly provide of funds. When she arrived in America she was dependent on her mother for survival. But now, as Sophie moves on and in with Joe, she no longer requirements her mother and is now closer than her ever to getting free of charge from Martine.

The parts are structured so that the most crucial milestones in the story are left hanging with massive spaces in time. This time around two years have passed amongst Sophie leaving for her sense of Providence and from exactly where the story picks up once more in Haiti. This sort of narrative of leaving huge chunks out of an otherwise linear chronology draws consideration to the truth that Sophie’s life itself is so disjoint. The story requires us abruptly from America to Haiti just as abruptly as Sophie was taken from Haiti to America following one particular letter and plane ticket from her mother. Sophie typically feels her life is empty and particularly when she was growing up without having her mother for twelve years, an enormous part of her life was missing even though she didn’t know it. She says, “It took me twelve years to piece with each other my mother’s complete story.” (61).

By the time Sophie has moved out of her mother’s spot she believes she might be cost-free but realizes that her mother is not. When she is with her sexual phobia group, she understands that the individual who has wronged her, Martine, has been unable to be free of charge. Sophie says, “I knew my hurt and hers have been links in a extended chain and if she hurt me, it was because she was hurt, too” (203). She comes to the realization that there is a cause why her mother did what she did and that in order for her to be totally free, her mother wants to be totally free from her previous as effectively. Her mother’s rape had given her nightmares that she was capable to “free” her mother from, but only from the nightmares themselves, not from the reality of the rape.

Sophie is devastated by the fact that her mother located her personal way of escaping the reality of rape—committing suicide. For the very first time her mother did what she wanted to do and Sophie preferred for her to do what is good for her, going to Haiti and confronting the cane field exactly where she was raped as the psychiatrist advised. This function-reversal shows how Sophie is nevertheless in a way so connected to her mother that she is compelled to “free” herself as nicely as her mother by confronting the cane field. In the final scene, she says she, “ran via the field, attacking the cane. I took off my shoes and started to beat a cane stalk. I pounded it until it started to lean over.” The image of the bent cane stalk reflects Sophie reclaiming her mother’s power and Sophie ultimately reaching the freedom she so desperately sought.

Sophie Caco in Breath, Eyes Memory not only goes on a journey to free of charge herself from her mother, but in the approach permits herself to free her mother from her mother’s previous. Because Martine was unable to uncover the Providence that Sophie sought, Sophie was about to put her mother’s rape behind her by fighting the cane stalk in the final scene of the novel.
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