In Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys, can one quotation (below) sum up Anna Morgan's identity perfectly, as much as something so complicated can be summed up? Anna Morgan was from the West Indies...
In Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys, can one quotation (below) sum up Anna Morgan's identity perfectly, as much as something so complicated can be summed up?
Anna Morgan was from the West Indies but is now living in England. She does not care for England and often flashes back to memories from the West Indies.
“Sometimes it was as if I were back there and as if England was a dream. At other times England was the real thing and out there was the dream, but I could never fit them together.” (Rhys, Voyage in the Dark).
This quotation does a very solid job of summing up the character of Anna Morgan in Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys. The character of Anna is based on Rhys' own experiences as a young woman of a Welsh family who grew up on the Caribbean island of Dominica, and moved to England when she was 16; in Voyage in the Dark as in several of her other works, Rhys explores the dual identity of British people who have lived in British colonies and how they are caught between colonial and British culture.
Anna Morgan, when she arrives in England, finds her putative homeland damp, cold, grey, and depressing. She does not feel at home in England, as it is not really the place where she grew up, but neither was she truly at home in Dominica, as she was white and British. Her stepmother Hester actively discouraged her from forming friendships with black people or "going native". Thus she is a sort of fractured character in terms of lacking a homeland.
Many other elements of her character involve this desire to have things fit together or connect. Her love for Walter seems in part an effort to forge a deep and permanent connection within her English environment, but that is thwarted when he decides that he does not love her. Every aspect of family, from her dead father to her unsympathetic stepmother, and from her failure to establish deep connections in her relationship with men to her botched abortion, are all part of a pattern of an inability to make things fit together. Her cultural and geographic dislocations become part of a more general state of fracturing of her social and emotional worlds.