Study Guide

Breath, Eyes, Memory Book 3, Chapter 21

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Book 3, Chapter 21

  • Atie reads some poetry out from her notebook. Ifé isn't there to hear it. Instead, she takes Martine's cassette into her room and listens to it all the way through.
  • It seems that Martine's suffering from bad dreams again and is headed in a downward mental spiral.
  • Sophie has a heart-to-heart with Atie and learns that her auntie feels that her life in La Nouvelle Dame Marie is nothing. It oppresses her.
  • Atie comments on the process of life in Haiti, her duties as a daughter, and what she was led to expect as a young woman.
  • Atie feels that she's endured and done everything she was supposed to, but she still has nothing of her own.
  • The little pig makes a ruckus throughout the night and Ifé promises to kill it. She says that Louise brings trouble wherever she goes.
  • In the morning, Louise comes with the news that the Macoutes have killed Dessaline, the coal vendor who had been beaten in the market.
  • Louise can't stand the violence anymore and explains that this is why she wants to leave. She feels that any one of them might be next.
  • Ifé says they "already had their turn with the Macoutes." Sophie reflects on the Macoutes, who were part of the Haitian military but also the bogeyman in Haitian folklore.
  • She knows that her father might have been one of these Macoutes. We learn that Martine was afraid that the man who raped her would return to kill her, and so her nightmares began.
  • Martine was sent to be a maid to a rich family in Croix-des-Rosets while she was pregnant. When she returned to Ifé in La Nouvelle Dame Marie, she tried to kill herself more than once.
  • We also learn that the rich family helped Martine to get to America, and that Tante Atie took over care of Sophie and brought her to Croix-des-Rosets to go to school.
  • Which brings us back to the beginning of the novel.
  • That evening, Atie and Ifé have a little fight. Ifé's upset that Atie went out at night, with the Macoutes around, killing Dessalines. Atie says she would welcome death as an escape.
  • And that's about it for Ifé: she slaps Atie for saying such a thing.
  • Sophie comes out and tries to talk to Atie. She asks if Atie has seen Monsieur Augustin (she hasn't). Atie tells her that Ifé will send word to Martine that Sophie is in Haiti.
  • Sophie doesn't think it'll matter. She explains to Atie that she tried to contact her mother after she married Joseph—but Martine refused to respond. Atie thinks that Martine will come now.
  • In the morning, Ifé records a return cassette to Martine in New York, but Sophie refuses to contribute to it. Atie appears to be drunk, searching for her notebook.
  • They hear the church bells ringing in honor of Dessalines funeral. Atie leaves and doesn't come back until the wee hours of the morning.

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