Study Guide

Breath, Eyes, Memory Tone

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Even, Detached

For all the drama that takes place in this work—the nightmares, the episodes of self-harming, the violent death and traumatic burial—Danticat keeps her prose even and detached. Sophie observes things as they are and doesn't react wildly or emphatically to anything. It's almost like emotional reportage.

Take a look at this moment, when Sophie enters her mother's home for the first time after Martine's suicide:

There was a trail of dried blood, down from the stairs to the living room and out to the street where they must have loaded her into the ambulance. The bathroom floor was spotless, however, except for the pile of bloody sheets stuffed in trash bags in the corner. (35.226)

Sophie may be rushing from one room to the other and falling apart internally, but none of this is reflected in the glass-smooth prose that describes the horror. Perhaps Danticat uses this method to convey Sophie's shock and general detachment from those things that are just too much to bear.

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