Wide Sargasso Sea
by Jean Rhys
Wide Sargasso Sea Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Section.Subsection [if applicable].Paragraph). Wide Sargasso Sea is divided into three parts. Within those parts, the novel does not number sections and subsections. This guide refers to sections if they are marked by an asterisk or some other symbol in the text. Within those sections, the novel indicates subsections by an extra line break.
"She tell me in the middle of all this you start calling her names. Marionette. Some word so."
"Yes, I remember, I did."
(Marionnete, Antoinette, Marionetta, Antoinetta)
"That word mean doll, eh? Because she won't speak. You want to force her to cry and to speak."
(Force her to cry and to speak)
"But she won't […] You meant her to hear."
Yes, that didn't just happen. I meant it.
(I lay awake all night long after they were asleep, and as soon as it was light I got up and dressed and saddled Preston. And I came to you. Oh Christophine. O Pheena, Pheena, help me.) (II.6.7.37-44)
This quote is from one of the strangest passages in the book (and that's saying a lot). The novel doesn't really help us out with explaining whether the italicized passages are bits of Rochester's interior monologue, bits of Christophine's dialogue echoing in Rochester's head, or something completely different, like the part in the parenthesis above, which sounds like Antoinette. Is Christophine performing some kind of obeah mind meld on Rochester, funneling Antoinette's appeal straight into his head? Or is Rochester just taking an imaginative leap? The structure of the passage invites us to consider how much of Rochester's actions – and reactions – are being "programmed" by Christophine.
[Christophine] is intelligent in her way and can express herself well, but I did not like the look of her at all, and consider her a most dangerous person. My wife insisted that she had gone back to Martinique her native island, and was very upset that I had mentioned the matter even in such a roundabout fashion. (II.5.19)
As Mr. Fraser's letter indicates, Christophine is considered dangerous really not for any rational reason – "the look of her"? How vague can he get? It's the talk about what she can do that contributes to her power in Jamaican society.
"What you do with her money, eh?" Her voice was still quiet but with a hiss in it when she said "money." I thought, of course, that is what all the rigamarole is about. I no longer felt dazed, tired, half-hypnotized, but alert and wary, ready to defend myself. (II.6.7.75)
The word "money" is the magic word that pops Rochester out of his odd trance-like dialogue with Christophine. Whether it's because money is all he cares about or because he's had an epiphany about Christophine's true aims is questionable.