Study Guide

Breath, Eyes, Memory Love

Advertisement - Guide continues below


Danticat offers us a complex notion of love. It's not simply hearts and flowers. Instead, it's fraught, painful, and often dangerous. Even the love between mother and daughter can wound.

We see this especially in the relationship between Sophie and Martine, which is riddled with difficulty from the start. Martine feels anxiety whenever she looks at Sophie's unfamiliar face, and Sophie suffers from her mother's protective impulses.

But we do get a glimpse of perfect love in this story. Atie shows an uncomplicated and adoring motherly love for Sophie. She never says a word that vexes the little girl and only has words of love for Martine. While Ifé is guilty of violating her daughters by testing them, she has a whole-hearted and direct love for Sophie and Brigitte that can't be denied.

Despite the difficulties over time and across borders, the Caco women know they can't really thrive without each other.

Questions About Love

  1. How does Martine feel about her daughter? How do you know?
  2. What does Sophie want out of her adult relationship with her mother?
  3. Why does Sophie love Joseph?
  4. What happens to Atie when Martine returns to Haiti to visit? What is her response to her sister after all the years that have passed?

Chew on This

Ifé's choice to test her daughters' virginity on a weekly basis is a reflection of her love for them and not simply her inability to stand up to patriarchal standards.

Martine's feelings toward her daughter are based more on her need for survival and less on motherly affection.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...