Wide Sargasso Sea
by Jean Rhys
Wide Sargasso Sea Mortality 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.
Always this talk of death. (Is she trying to tell me that is the secret of this place? That there is no other way? She knows. She knows.)
"Why did you make me want to live? Why did you do that to me?"
"Because I wished it. Isn't that enough?"
"Yes, it is enough. But if one day you didn't wish it. What should I do then? Suppose you took this happiness away when I wasn't looking…" (II.3.5.32-5)
Here we have another instance of a character keeping another character alive, only this time it's Rochester who's working the "obeah." Antoinette ascribes to Rochester an almost magical power over her state of mind and her life. For Rochester, on the other hand, death is associated with the "secret of this place." The location is felt as a threat to his selfhood, just as Antoinette is.
I wonder if she ever guessed how near she came to dying. In her way, not in mine. It was not a safe game to play – in that place. Desire, Hatred, Life, Death came very close in the darkness. (II.3.5.55)
This quote gives us a different inflection on what it means to die in "her way" than we get in Quote #4, in our discussion of "Love." While previously Antoinette linked death with happiness, here Rochester reads "her way" of dying as something far riskier, as an actual physical death. Is sex really a kind of death where the two lose control over themselves in sexual union? In such a state, isn't it possible for one person to exploit the other's temporary loss of control and take over? What would it mean to use a different metaphor for sex – say, life? In a sense, the "game," and the sex act itself, is a life-and-death battle over what terms such as love and happiness mean.
There are always two deaths, the real one and the one people know about. (II.6.3.19)
Antoinette explains to Rochester how she felt her mother died a symbolic death when the Coulibri estate burned down and her brother died, well before her mother's actual physical death. There are many ways of dying or ceasing to exist, some that are private, secret, or otherwise inexpressible, as the tragic events in the novel bear out.