Study Guide

Breath, Eyes, Memory Book 4, Chapter 35

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Book 4, Chapter 35

  • When Sophie gets home, she finds a chilling message from Marc on her answering machine.
  • When she calls him, Marc tells her that Martine has stabbed herself to death.
  • Sophie makes the trip back to her mother's house in Brooklyn by bus. She leaves Joseph and Brigitte in Providence because she doesn't want to involve Brigitte in the sorrow.
  • When she arrives, she finds that Marc's made all the arrangements to have her mother's body sent to the funeral home in La Nouvelle Dame Marie. He's also sent word to Ifé and Atie.
  • Sophie's furious with Marc about sending a telegram to Haiti, but even more for not saving her mother. In fact, she hates him for getting her mother pregnant in the first place.
  • She stays the night in her mother's house and picks out a shockingly red outfit for her mother to be buried in. Marc objects, but Sophie doesn't care. Red was her mother's color.
  • When Sophie and Marc get to Grandmè Ifé's house, the old woman tells her that she knew about all the things that happened to Martine before she was told, including the pregnancy and suicide.
  • The family holds a kind of makeshift wake at home (Martine's body isn't there), including some ritual songs and games played by the family.
  • The next day, they claim Martine's body and hold the funeral. Both Atie and Ifé are overwhelmed when they see Martine in her coffin. Atie breaks down completely.
  • They follow her body to the gravesite. On the way, people in the village and in the cane fields run to join in the funeral procession and the family's grief.
  • At the cemetery, the women cast handfuls of dirt into the grave. Sophie manages to throw a handful for herself and her daughter, but then falls apart.
  • She bolts from the gravesite and heads into the cane fields, where she does exactly what her therapist suggested: she confronts the place of her mother's rape.
  • Sophie beats the sugar cane and rips it out of the ground with her bare hands while her family and the other mourners look on. Ifé shouts "Are you free?" as Sophie does this.
  • Atie repeats the phrase.
  • As Sophie reflects on her mother's life, she comes to the conclusion that they are the same, since they are from the same land and have inherited experiences from generations of women past.
  • She has a surge of pride for her mother's courage. Ifé tells her that when she hears that question again (i.e. "Are you free?"), she'll know how to answer.

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