Voyage in the Dark, Rhys’s third major novel of her early period, reflects a more experienced style than was evident in the two earlier novels. It remained Rhys’s favorite work. The unprotected female protagonist and her situation are familiar, but stylistically the novel reflects fully developed strategies: flashbacks to Dominica, floating memories and dreams that disrupt the text, distortions in syntax, and a concluding section that is akin to stream of consciousness.
The experiences of Anna Morgan, the heroine, are very similar to the experiences of Rhys when she came to England as a young woman. The work is fiction, but it is highly autobiographical. The first-person narration is appropriate to Rhys’s content, which includes recollections and memories of a childhood in the West Indies and Anna’s reaction to the English climate. Early in the novel, Anna says: “I didn’t like England at first. I couldn’t get used to the cold.”
The use of climate for metaphor is prevalent in Voyage in the Dark, suggesting that Anna’s entire set of experiences in England are a voyage in the cold and dark. Anna’s nostalgia for the West Indies includes memories of her desire to be black, to be part of the culture she was drawn to, and of Francine, a black caretaker of Anna’s childhood who was warm and cheerful. Descriptions of Catholic religious services also reflect for Anna the Caribbean and for Rhys her spiritual...
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