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Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea


by Jean Rhys

Wide Sargasso Sea Part II, Section 3 Summary

Subsection 1

  • Rochester thinks he may have fallen asleep during his flashbacks, because he hears Antoinette in the next room telling a woman not to put too much scent in her hair.

Subsection 2

  • At night, Rochester and Antoinette dine together. As for ambiance, they have plenty of it. The room is lit with candles, and the table is decked with beautiful pink flowers. Moths and beetles swarm the room, attracted by the light. As usual, Rochester is underwhelmed and finds dinner spicy.
  • Antoinette asks Rochester if England is "like a dream," and Rochester replies that actually Jamaica is like a dream. They have a tiff over which is more "unreal."
  • After dinner, they go outside. A giant moth flies into one of the candles, and Rochester saves it and lets it fly away.
  • Antoinette tells Rochester about a time when she was at Granbois after…but she doesn't specify after what exactly. Rochester ignores her pause – he just doesn't want to hear any depressing stories. (A little late for that, but let's move on.)
  • Antoinette ignores Rochester and tells him that, one night, she woke to see two huge rats staring at her from a windowsill. She could see herself in the mirror looking at the rats, but she wasn't afraid. She fell asleep, and, when she woke again, she noticed that the rats had left and it's only then that she became afraid. She got up and slept outside in a hammock in the light of the full moon. Christophine was quite annoyed when she found Antoinette the next morning because it's bad luck to sleep under a full moon.
  • Antoinette asks Rochester whether he thinks she's slept too much under a full moon. Instead of being freaked out, Rochester is touched by what he sees as her vulnerability. He embraces her while singing a soothing song about someone named Robin dying.
  • They have a couple of glasses of wine and toast their happiness again.

Subsection 3

  • Rochester wakes up the next morning, feeling Antoinette watching him. Christophine waltzes in with some coffee, and tells Rochester to enjoy her wonderful coffee, which she describes as "bull's blood…not horse piss like the English madams drink" (II.3.3.4). Rochester is put off by Christophine's way of talking, but agrees.
  • As Christophine walks slowly out of the room, her long dress trailing on the floor, Rochester asks Antoinette why Christophine isn't worried about her dress getting dirty. Antoinette explains that it's common custom to let your dress trail because it shows that you have other dresses. It is also a sign of respect on special occasions.
  • Rochester also wonders why Christophine walks so slowly – to him, she seems lazy. Antoinette explains that Christophine isn't lazy, just methodical.
  • Antoinette stretches out and tells him she's planning on spending the entire day in bed. She recommends that he check out the local swimming spots.

Subsection 4

  • Rochester and Antoinette often visit the bathing pool, a kind of small swimming pond.
  • One day, a giant crab appears on a rock, and Antoinette throws a rock at it. Rochester asks her who taught her to throw so well, and she tells him that a boy named Sandi did.

Subsection 5

  • At night they watch the sunset from their summer home. Rochester notices that Antoinette is very generous to the servants, and he also notices that the servants' friends and families often visit, eating and drinking a lot, and Antoinette doesn't seem to notice.
  • It is suggested that they haven't yet consummated their marriage, possibly because of Rochester's illness, but also because he still doesn't quite trust her.
  • Rochester notices, however, that Antoinette seems to have let her guard down around him. She's become more talkative, especially at night, when she talks about her sad childhood. She explains that before she met Rochester, she hadn't expected ever to be happy, but now that she is happy, she's afraid he'll take her happiness away from her. Rochester tells her that she doesn't have to be afraid around her.
  • Finally, she asks, "If I could die. Now, when I am happy. Would you do that? You wouldn't have to kill me. Say die and I will die" (II.3.5.40).
  • Rochester reads Antoinette's request as an invitation to get it on, so they finally have sex. A whole lot of it. All the time. But Rochester believes that it isn't love, just plain old physical lust.

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