Part Two

A Marriage and a Change of Narrator: This section opens in Rochester's voice and he tells of the beginnings of their marriage and honeymoon (bear in mind however, that at no point during the novel is he named - perhaps Rhys refuses him an identity in the same way he later refuses Antoinette/Bertha). Rather than seeing it with optimism it is viewed as an ending: "So it was all over", "Everything finished" (p.55). He surveys the town and sees in it only sadness and secrecy and confused by the town name 'Massacre' and the people- the sly smiling Amelie, the crying boy, Caro the gaudy old woman, the Young bull and Emile the man who des not know his own name. Later he is bemused and uneasy at the giggling Hilda and his gaze is forced away by Christophine's. But most of all he is confused by his wife and her "Long, sad, dark alien eyes" (p.56). He is a stranger in a foreign land with a stranger for a wife. All his English reservations and assumptions of dominance and control are under threat. He is no longer in control as he warns Antoinette: "You'll get soaked". She takes no notice and runs to see her friend and finds he later must obey her command ("Put your coat on now" (p.59)). He is filled with mistrust and disturbed from his rest by the sound of crowing cocks (p.58) - a symbol or warning of betrayal perhaps after the biblical example. Feelings of security elude him (p.63) and he notices the erosion of imperialist influence and codes of practice with the books that are eaten away (p.63).

Settling In?: He is married to a stranger and behind his weak optimism "It will all look very different in the sun" (p.56) is resentment:

"I was married a month after I arrived in Jamaica and for nearly three weeks of that time I was in bed with a fever" (p.56)

The reader realises he is a sold into this marriage as Antoinette is by her family; we can no longer vilify Rochester as we would expect to and sympathy is extended towards him. The suppressed letter to his father forms the 'correct' explanation for the tragedy of Wide Sargasso Sea:

"Dear Father. The thirty thousand pounds have been paid to me without question or condition. No provision was made for her (that must have been seen to). I have a modest competence now. I will never be a disgrace to you or to my dear brother the son you love. No begging letters, no mean requests ... I have sold my soul or you have sold it... " (p.59)

Instead, he writes a polite and formal letter about the property and its beauty, and a report of some events and impressions which is followed by his assertion that, "There are blanks in my mind that cannot be filled up" (p.64). Perhaps this is done in order to alert the reader to the sublimation and suppression that happens in the mind as well as in the letter.

The next section is his memories of the wedding and the time around it "very strange, but it meant nothing to me" (p.64). He doesn't understand the wedding guests looks or why Antoinette initially refuses to marry him. It is a short flashback which is then consumed by the continuing tale of their marriage and his impressions of Jamaica: the food is "too highly seasoned" and the flowers are "overpoweringly strong" (p.69). They talk of each of their homes seeming dream-like to the other and tensions begin to surface, ignoring them and concentrating on her beauty he toasts to their happiness, but this is undercut by the short but poignant sentence "A short youth mine was" (p.70).

Rochester's voice is intermingled with black voices and seems quite incongruous and prim in comparison to Antoinette's easy manners and bantering in patois ("horse piss like the English madams drink" says Christophine). Rochester returns thus: "her coffee is delicious but her language is horrible" (p.71). Antoinette's boyish agility and stone throwing equally baffles him and the reference to her teacher Sandi, is left in mid air, without explanation and resounds with what is left unsaid (p.74)

As readers we are similarly alert to the divergence between what is said by Rochester and what he feels, he gives her empty promises and reassurances for her safety. Her fears that he will take away her happiness meet not with a firm loving answer but a weak reasoning question: "And lose my own? Who'd be so foolish?" (p.77). He then commands her to "Die then! Die!" and debases their relationship to a purely sexual level (to die being a metaphor for orgasm) but also admits how close she has come

  By PanEris using Melati.

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