Study Guide

Breath, Eyes, Memory Contrasting Regions

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Contrasting Regions

When the neighbors in Croix-des-Rosets find out that Martine's sent for Sophie, they're glad for her. They expect that she is going to be with her mother in a land of opportunity. And this is so, but Sophie learns that living in America doesn't necessarily mean that she's leaving Haiti behind entirely.

She lives in a Haitian-American community, attends a French language Haitian school, and is told that she will not be allowed to date African-American men. But despite this rigidity, she does observe differences between these countries—and America doesn't always take the prize.

For one thing, New York is urban, grey, and filled with expressionless faces. It can't compare to the nature in Haiti, with its bright colors and sunshine. But America has stability. It has food in abundance and relative safety. It has money and opportunity—even for women. Even so, Sophie finds that she can't really do without either place. Home is a moving target.

Questions About Contrasting Regions

  1. Why does Sophie feel that she's learned English in vain?
  2. What makes Sophie return to Haiti? What is she hoping to do or achieve there?
  3. Why can't Martine spend any significant time in Haiti?
  4. How does Danticat feel about Haiti? How about the U.S.? What can you tell from her descriptions and observations of each place?

Chew on This

Sophie's segregation from mainstream American culture hampers her social and psychological development in her adopted homeland.

Despite living in Brooklyn for half her life and marrying an American man, Sophie considers Haiti her true home.

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