Edwidge Danticat is the author of Breath, Eyes, Memory. The family struggles with fears such us mental instabilities, loss of virginity and the change that takes place. Danticat uses fear to relate to the horrors that the Caco women face.
Sophie, the protagonist, inherits mental problems such as nightmares and suicide. Sophie’s mother, Martine, and her anxieties, testing and fears have made Sophie afraid of her own body. Sophie said, “After Joseph and I got married…I had suicide thoughts. Some nights I woke up in cold sweat wondering if my mother’s anxiety was somehow hereditary…Her nightmares had somehow become my own…I spent the night dreaming about… a man with no face, pounding a life into a helpless girl.” (page 193). Sophie bears the witness of the past when she notices the unseen faces of her mother’s rapist and runs through the place where her mother was raped. ...view middle of the document...
Being pure makes the Caco women fearful of losing their virginity. In the novel, testing is one of the difficult moments for the women. For example, Martine's testing of Sophie is because her own mother had tested on her, which makes this traditional practice, and Sophie’s difficult struggle to avoid passing on their painful inheritance. In addition, Martine’s and her aunt, Atie’s purity was tested by testing. These women faced women hood obstacles like when Atie’s fiancé left her and Martine was rapped. The result of this is unhappiness, a baby or loneliness. “It spoke to me… I am going to get it out of me…He calls me a filthy whore… I never want to see this child’s face,” Martine said (page 217). Martine’s pregnancy makes her scared of the future and believes that the baby will look like her rapist even though it is Marc, her boyfriend’s child. Martine deals with the stress by killing herself and the baby. Also, Atie deals with her loneliness by drinking. Purity makes the females in the Caco family fearful of themselves and losses.
Surprises put fear into the characters and the change haunts them. Atie says, “It is calm and silent waters that drown.” (page 140). This passage relates to fear because of the fear that someone can attack you like when Sophie’s father rapped Martine, and Sophie being the outcome of it. This shows how silence is dangerous and when Mr. Augustine changed his mind to marry some other woman other than Atie. To add on this shows how Atie’s fear of the responsibility to take care of Grandme Ife. When Martine dies, Sophie is able to go back to America with a new life, and a new strength and not the painful memories that was passed onto Sophie. Change can mean good things and bad like when Martine dies Sophie’s fears being to fade, but Atie’s life creates fear and hope to die because of her loneliness.
The Caco women’s pain that they face relates to theme of fear. These fears relate to the theme of storytelling in the book and how the women double to tell themselves a story or be somewhere else while something else is going on.