Study Guide

Breath, Eyes, Memory Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

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Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Falling Under a Shadow

Although Sophie's early life appears to go well—she's raised by a loving auntie and a grandma who say all the right things and cook all the right food—she's summoned by her mother to a new and hostile world. In it, she is the outsider: the girl who has a face that provokes nightmares and an immigrant who hast to endure outcast status and who's isolated by a protective mother.

She also has to cope with her mother's traumatic past and the nightmares that haunt her. Soon, she feels anxious and fearful herself, without recourse to the usual teen-girl diversions: friends and boys.

Things Go Well. For A While.

We don't see very much of Sophie's growing-up years, but we do know that she completes high school and is poised to start college when her mother finally has enough money to buy a house of her own. Although Sophie isn't thrilled about her former school-life and doesn't really care for the career track her mother envisions for her, things have settled into a routine.

She also manages to carry on with Joseph for a while, leading a quasi-normal dating life while her mother's out at work. Now if only she could make all this work out...

The Shadow Returns, And Our Heroine's "Imprisoned"

But she can't make it work. Mama finds out that her main squeeze is not the respectable (though fictional) Henry Napoleon, but the totally unacceptable (and old) Joseph. Martine now entertains the possibility that her only child will abandon her for a stranger and she snaps. Soon, the virginity tests start and Sophie can't bring herself to see Joseph because of her humiliation.

Bad Times Continue, and Then Something Happens

Sophie will pretty much do anything to free herself from Martine's abusive behavior, so she does the unthinkable: she uses the kitchen pestle to destroy her hymen, so the virginity tests will stop. She nearly destroys her sexual organs, but she frees herself and runs away with Joseph.

The years that follow aren't a "happily ever after" for Sophie, even though she marries her first love and has a beautiful daughter. Her mother's abuse and the anxiety she has inherited from her make it impossible for her to feel comfortable with a sexual relationship and she soon finds herself running from Joseph.


By the time Martine finds Sophie in Haiti, Sophie begins to understand that she needs to work it out with her mom. She confronts Martine about the virginity testing and gets an answer, and then feels her sympathy for her mom's struggles return. When she finally returns to Providence and lands in her therapist's office, Sophie can honestly say she wants to forget the past and be good friends with her Mom.

But her therapist knows better: trauma can't be forgotten. Rather, it has to be faced and put to rest. Sophie has to suffer the loss of her mother before she gets the opportunity to confront the violence of the past and declare herself free from Martine's pain.

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