Wide Sargasso Sea: Part Two continued (V)

Average Overall Rating: 5
Total Votes: 118

He decides to move quickly as she may wake. Her torn shift is on the floor and he covers her with the sheet ‘as if I covered a dead girl’. Some wine is left in his glass and he tastes it and thinks it is bitter.


After dressing, he leaves the house and runs and finds himself near a ruined house. When it gets late, he finds his way back to the house and his dressing room. Amélie comes to him, as he expected, and she feeds him as if he is a child. She says she is sorry for him, which he also expected her to do, and they both laugh and he has no remorse, but feels differently in the morning. He thinks how ‘her’ skin is ‘darker, her lips thicker than I had thought’. She says how she wants to leave the island and he teases her. Before she leaves his room, he asks if she is still sorry for him and she says she is but is also sorry for ‘her’ too. She goes and he listens for the sound he knew he should hear, that is, the horse’s hooves as his wife leaves the house.


The cook resigns and has told Baptiste that she will not stay in the house. Rochester laughs when he hears this. Antoinette has gone away and Rochester writes a ‘cautious’ letter to Mr Fraser (the magistrate) on the third day, and says he has been considering a book about obeah and remembers his case and wonders if he knows the whereabouts of the woman now.


Fraser writes back and says that the woman was called ‘Josephine or Christophine Dubois’ and had been one of the Cosway servants. After she came out of jail, Mr Mason befriended her and Fraser considers her to be dangerous and thought she had gone to Martinique. He advises Rochester to inform Hill, the white inspector of police, if she gets up to any of her ‘nonsense’.


The narrative moves to Rochester as he sees Antoinette return and go to her room and hears her ring her bell. Baptiste takes her rum and he also sees the ‘old woman’ go to the kitchen. Rochester has a drink of rum and tries Antoinette’s door and it yields slightly. He pushes again and it opens enough for him to see her lying in her bed and the decanter of rum empty. He comes away and when she rings the bell again for more rum, Rochester takes the bottle from Baptiste and Baptiste goes to get Christophine.


Antoinette comes to the door and Rochester is ‘too shocked to speak’. Her hair is uncombed and her eyes are staring and her face looks swollen. She reaches for the rum on the table and they argue. He calls Christophine “‘an evil old woman’” and she says he prefers “‘the light brown girls’” to “‘black people’”. She also says he sent the girl away with little or no money.


He talks about slavery not being a matter of liking or disliking, but a question of justice. She says justice is a cold word and a lie. He calls her Bertha and she asks him not to. She says this is not her name and that he is trying to make her into something she is not, which is a form of obeah too. She also says he has spoiled this place for her now and asks if “‘she’” is so much prettier than her and if he loves her (Antoinette) at all. He says no, not at this moment.


She laughs ‘a crazy laugh’ and calls him “‘a stone’” and remembers her Aunt Cora told her not to marry him. He tries to stop her drinking and she bites his arm, and he drops the bottle. She smashes another against the wall and calls him a coward and shouts obscenities at him.


It is at this moment that he hears Christophine’s calm voice saying that crying is “‘no good with him’”. Christophine asks him why he did not take “‘that worthless good-for-nothing girl somewhere else’” and adds that they both like money. He goes to the veranda and feels that everything around him is hostile.  He thinks how there is nothing to comfort him.


Christophine leaves Antoinette in her room and tells Rochester that he made Antoinette think he could not see the sun “‘for looking at her’”. He thinks this is correct, ‘but better to say nothing’. She says he also made love to Antoinette until she was drunk with it and till she could not do without it, and cannot see the sun anymore. She tells him he has believed the words of “‘that damn bastard’” and then left her alone.


He accuses Christophine of taking charge and trying to poison him. She says how he has called Antoinette a marionette and wanted to force her to speak. She adds that he then thought up something else and made love to Amélie and knew Antoinette would hear. He thinks this is true, but does not say so.


He instead accuses Christophine of making her dead drunk on bad rum and is critical of Antoinette’s “‘filthy language’”. Christophine calls him hard and has told Antoinette before that he will not help her. She also says Antoinette loves him and will never ask for his love again, but she, Christophine will, and asks him to wait and may love Antoinette again. He shakes his head mechanically and she repeats that Daniel is a liar and is not a Cosway. He asks about Antoinette’s mother being mad, and Christophine says “‘they’” drove her to it. She also says when she lost Pierre she lost herself for a while. The man in charge of her takes her whenever he wants and Antoinette cannot see her.


Christophine asks him not to forsake Antoinette as she will be torn to pieces as her mother was. He says he will do all he can for her but says nothing when she asks if he will love her like he did before.


She asks why he cannot return half of Antoinette’s dowry and leave the island. She says she will look after her and he thinks how she will take care of the money too. He is ready to defend himself at the mention of money.


He asks what will happen and she says they will go to Martinique and other places and Antoinette will forget about him and marry someone else. Rage and jealousy shoot through him and he laughs at her and tells her to say goodbye to Antoinette. He blames her for everything that has happened to her. She says it is not his house but Antoinette’s and cannot tell her to go. He assures her it is his and will get the men to put her out, or the police. She says it is a free country and she is a free woman. He reminds her of her past and reads out the part of Fraser’s letter that said he should inform the police if she gets up to any nonsense. He says he will consult Richard and doctors in Spanish Town and she accuses him again of only wanting her money.


Analysis – Part Two continued

Rochester’s greed is aired as he and Christophine argue over Antoinette’s rights. Christophine is depicted as one of the few people to be concerned for her and Rochester’s desire for wealth and control underpin his reluctance to let her go.


Freedom is a key issue as Christophine argues that emancipation means that she is a free woman. He reminds her, though, of the power of the law and how this might be used against her if she does not conform to his wishes. He uses English justice as a weapon against her and Antoinette and to ensure his wealth remains undivided. He also uses Christophine’s past against her and threatens her with the magistrate and the accusation that she has used obeah.

Quotes: Search by Author