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Quotes

Quote #1

What could I do? All my life I had been trained to obey, educated to accept. I could hardly change in a moment. "Please lead me," I mumbled, as near to fainting as one could be without actually succumbing. (2.19)

Charlotte allows herself to be led onto the ship, though she has serious reservations about whether or not she should make the journey. Why? Because she's been trained to obey authority, not to question it. The passage suggests that learning to think for herself is going to take some time for Charlotte.

Quote #2

If you will be kind enough to recollect that during my life I had never once – not for a moment – been without the support, the guidance, the protection of my elders, you will accept my words as being without exaggeration when I tell you that at that moment I was certain I had been placed in a coffin. My coffin. It's hardly to be wondered, then, that I burst into tears of vexation, crying with fear, rage, and humiliation. (2.51)

Charlotte is all by herself: cut off from her family, friends, and anyone who might be able to protect her. That she compares her cabin to a coffin suggests that she views this isolation as a kind of death – pretty dramatic. After death, though, comes rebirth, right? Let's hope so.

Quote #3

Now and again I would feel a rough-skinned but gentle hand beneath my head. I would open my eyes, and there was Zachariah's ancient black face close by, murmuring soft, comforting sounds, spooning warm gruel or tea into my mouth – I didn't know which – as if I were some baby. Indeed, I was a baby. (3.63)

Though Charlotte previously described her cabin as a coffin, it has become more like a womb over time. As Zachariah tends to her, Charlotte describes herself as a baby. What does this imagery suggest? What kind of transformation is taking place?

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