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Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea


by Jean Rhys

Wide Sargasso Sea Part II, Section 1 Summary

Subsection 1

  • At this point, Rochester takes over the narrative. He and Antoinette arrive in the ominously named Massacre, on the nearby island of Dominica, for their honeymoon (for a discussion of the significance of the place, see "Setting"). He meets some of the servants, including Amélie, a saucy vixen who keeps giggling maliciously at him (or is he just being paranoid?). He thinks of how little he knows Antoinette. For most of the month before their marriage, he had been ill with a fever.
  • The rain stops, and the porters carry the luggage on their heads. Amélie also carries some luggage on her head. A cock crows, and Rochester flashes back to their wedding night. They had slept in separate rooms because Antoinette was exhausted, and Rochester spent the night listening to the cocks' crowing. He remembers getting up early that morning and watching the women carry their trays to the kitchen on their heads, just as Amélie was.

Subsection 2

  • As the party approaches Granbois, Rochester is overwhelmed with the "wild" nature that surrounds him (II.1.2.1).
  • In his head, he plans out a letter to his father which conveniently fills us in on the back-story. We find out that since he's not the first son, he inherits nothing from his father, so he has married Antoinette for her money.
  • Upon arriving at Granbois, Rochester's not too impressed. Perhaps if he got over the whole English superiority thing he might be able to appreciate things more, but he can't. To him, everything looks like a sorry imitation of England – the dirt is red like England, the house looks like a rundown version of an English summer house. He does notice that for the first time Antoinette doesn't seem afraid or uneasy.
  • The servants are waiting for them in front of the house – among them, Christophine. He doesn't find Christophine at all intimidating. Little does he know…
  • Antoinette guides him into the house, where they clink a couple of glasses of rum and toast to happiness. She shows him around the place, and he continues to be less than enthusiastic.
  • She shows him his dressing room, which used to belong to Mr. Mason. It's got a small bed, a desk, and a bookshelf with Byron's poetry, Sir Walter Scott's novels, and Confessions of an Opium Eater, among other things. (For the time period, 1839, these books are roughly equivalent to today's bestsellers, only a bit more highfalutin.) Baptiste pops in and tells Rochester that Mr. Mason didn't like the place much.
  • Rochester sits at the desk and finally writes out the letter to his father he's been thinking through in his head. The letter gives us a little more fill-in on the back-story. When he arrived in Spanish Town, he was down with a fever, and stayed with Mr. Fraser, a magistrate who loved to talk about his cases.
  • Rochester wonders how the mail gets posted, and puts the letter back in his desk.

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