Breath, Eyes, Memory

by Edwidge Danticat

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What does Sophie's support group do during their meeting in Breath, Eyes, Memory?

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In Breath, Eyes, Memory, Sophie and the other members of her support group wear white gowns during their meetings, burn incense and candles, affirm each other's worth, share their feelings about what they have experienced, support each other, burn papers with their abusers' names on them, and release a green balloon.

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In Edwidge Danticat's novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, the protagonist, Sophie, experienced sexual abuse at the hands of her mother, who had also been abused by her own mother as well as raped. Sophie, therefore, develops a severe phobia about sexual relations. To try to balance herself and conquer her fears, Sophie joins a support group.

The novel describes a meeting of that support group, which meets at the home of Davina, who had been raped by her own grandfather over many years. Also joining the group is Buki, a young woman who experienced sexual mutilation. The women wear white gowns during their meetings as a symbol of regaining purity. They also burn incense and candles.

The woman affirm each other's worth, beauty, strength, and other good qualities. They need to hear these things from each other to build their confidence. They also help each other turn their pain into strength. At one session, Buki reads a letter to her grandmother (the person who mutilated her) but cannot get through it, so Sophie finishes it for her. Sophie realizes by this experience that she is not alone. Other women share her feelings about what has happened to them, and because they share these feelings, they can help each other.

At the end of the meeting, the women write the names of their abusers on slips of paper and then burn the papers. This is symbolic of letting go of their pain and anger and releasing themselves from the control the abusers still have over them. They then release a green balloon into the air as a symbol of new life.

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