calabash to catch water when it rain". Tia's speech is a mimicry of the local gossips, which is in turn reported by Antoinette, yet we still get a distinctive sense of the dialect and local tales and ridicule. Tia steals Antoinette's dress, who then walks home alone in Tia's more scruffy dress.

Change and Anxiety: When she arrives home there are visitors, who are so beautiful and impressively dressed that they cause excitement in Annette and Antoinette looks down in shame. Clothing becomes intensely important as her mother struggles to keep up the pretence of wealth and desirability and Antoinette is conscious of disappointing and embarrassing her mother as she pitifully says without resentment "She is ashamed of me" (p.23). The arrival of the English influence in her life causes yet more conflicts for her to deal with and attempt to reconcile "I was glad to be an English girl but I missed the taste of Christophine's cooking" (p.30) and whilst she can appreciate the beauty of the English girl in the Miller's daughter and be grateful for Mason's presence she can also never fully identify with English customs and mores either.

Her feelings of insecurity and fears of the changes that these strangers bring are reflected in her bad dream; her mother gives her little consolation and it is only her vision of nature and the sea which comforts her and allows her to believe "I am safe" (p.23). The word 'safe', we may begin to notice is one of Antoinette's preoccupations, thus highlighting her insecurity and search for protection which her mother fails to provide (she later reminisces about her stick with nails in it which she kept with her for defence p.31). Even the razor grass which cuts her legs is considered as favourable as she becomes inextricably linked with her environment; "Better. Better, better than people" (p.24). The simple repetition marks her unease and her recurring attempts to convince herself of its comforting power. She uses nature to will herself into an escape and she seeps into her scenery:

"Watching the red and yellow flowers in the sun thinking of nothing, it was as if a door opened and I was somewhere else, something else. Not myself any longer" (WSS p.24)

Colonialist Conceit: At her mother's wedding, Antoinette overhears the smiling guests and their reports about her family and sexual scandals. We are given a vignette of life at the estate before the book opens and also a flash of a portrayal of the younger and happier Annette and her dancing which enchants her adoring daughter. With the improvements of the estate with Mr Mason's arrival tensions rise and both Antoinette and Annette fear and are frustrated by Mason's naivety and lack of comprehension. Antoinette is perturbed by Mason's take on Aunt Cora, and appears wiser than the adult. "None of you understand about us" (p.26) she thinks and understands the dangerous situation their new-found wealth puts them in:

"The black people did not hate us so much when we were poor ... my mother knows but she can't make him believe it.." (p.29).

In the character of Mason we can see the relaxed assumption of supremacy and arrogant ignorance of the colonial rule as he says, "they're too damn lazy to be dangerous" (p.28) and foolishly talks about importing labourers instead of using locals in front of the servant Myra. Thus Mason displays a blundering and ineffectual understanding of the political situation on the island.

The Fire: Mason's lack of knowledge and casual attitude provides a catalyst for long term tensions and conflicts to finally explode in the form of the attack on the house. What he derisively calls "a handful of drunken Negroes" turns out to be a large angry crowd and the mob mentality is elucidated in terms of swelling and animals howling (p.32); showing up both the size, noise and aggression of the crowd, "they roared as we came out" (p34). Pierre is left in a burning room by Myra and Annette has to save him. The attack sparks off Annette's hatred for Mr Mason who she blames and abuses for his stupidity "You would not listen, you sneered at me, you grinning hypocrite" (p.34) she screams. She later resists him when she tries to rescue her parrot and is aggressive and frenzied "twisting like a cat and showing her teeth" (p.35) they escape the house and are faced with further threats and the laughter of the crowd but are rescued by the sight of the burning parrot. Such a spectacle frightens the superstitious crowd and

  By PanEris using Melati.

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