Breath, Eyes, Memory

Breath, Eyes, Memory Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, Tante Atie prepares a treat for breakfast: cinnamon rice pudding. Sophie is still so upset that she barely feels like eating, but sits down at the table anyway. Usually, over breakfast, Tante Atie tells funny stories about their family’s past, often including Tante Atie and Martine’s mother, whom Sophie calls Granmè Ifé, at their center. But this morning Tante Atie cannot summon a funny story, and the two eat in silence.
Storytelling is, for Sophie and her family, a way of remembering and honoring their historical roots, and of building relationships and fostering love. The absence of storytelling on this fateful morning shows that there is a fracture in the family precipitated by Sophie’s departure.
Themes
Memory, Storytelling, and the Past Theme Icon
After the meal, Tante Atie tells Sophie that she has to tell her some things about Martine, and about their family’s history. Tante Atie reveals that after Sophie joins her mother in New York, Atie is going to leave Croix-des-Rosets and join Granmè Ifé in her village—Atie and Sophie are both going to be with their mothers for the first time in years. Tante Atie assures Sophie that Martine never wanted to abandon her—and that both Martine and Tante Atie have had to live lives over which they have little control. Tante Atie makes Sophie promise that she will behave herself in New York and never try to fight with Martine. Sophie agrees to the promise.
Tante Atie knows that Sophie is facing a difficult transition and probably feeling a lot of anger about being uprooted from her home to go live with a woman she doesn’t even remember. Tante Atie therefore wants to give both Sophie and Martine the best start possible by telling Sophie good things about her mother and reassuring her of Martine’s love, though Sophie has never experienced it firsthand.
Themes
Mothers, Daughters, and Generational Trauma  Theme Icon
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Tante Atie touches the collar of Sophie’s bright yellow dress, remarking upon how many articles of yellow-hued clothing Sophie has. Sophie says she likes dressing like a daffodil, and Tante Atie tells her that Martine always loved daffodils, too, because the flowers, native to Europe, once transplanted to Haiti “grew in a place that they were not supposed to.” Tante Atie takes Sophie’s Mother’s Day card from her pocket and gives it back to her, urging Sophie to give it to Martine once she arrives in New York.
Tante Atie further encourages Sophie with positivity by comparing her to a daffodil. Much like this resilient flower that is able to grow, thrive, and adapt even in difficult conditions, Sophie will have to be courageous and adaptable in her transition from living with Tante Atie in Haiti to living with Martine in the U.S.
Themes
Mothers, Daughters, and Generational Trauma  Theme Icon
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Memory, Storytelling, and the Past Theme Icon
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