Breath, Eyes, Memory

The Deconstruction of Opportunity: Danticat’s Narrative of Disempowerment in Breath, Eyes, Memory College

The narrative of disempowerment is one that is woven extensively through Edwidge Danticat’s postcolonial novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory. Placing great emphasis on the politics of the domestic sphere and the stories told between women, the novel spans the childhood and young adulthood of Edwidge’s main protagonist Sophie Caco, highlighting the ways in which Sophie experiences social and cultural limitations. What is perhaps most striking throughout the text are the ways in which Sophie is presented with a plethora of opportunity only to be consistently limited in her ability for true change. Sophie’s changing familial relationships—with both her mother and her husband—in particular highlight this illusion of opportunity. Her unsuccessful movement across these relationships conveys the ways in which cultural norms entrap Sophie, as marriage—something commonly portrayed as an idealized and cherished opportunity—instead aggravates Sophie’s sexual phobia, edifying her disillusionment with her own body and ultimately, her identity. Throughout Breath, Eyes, Memory Danticat portrays the illusion of opportunity through her construction of Sophie’s parallel relationships with both Joseph and Martine in order to explicate her disempowerment...

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