Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 416
Jean Rhys' novel explores the themes of male abandonment, alienation, and male versus female worldviews.
Sasha Jensen, the female protagonist, was once married to a charming scoundrel named Enno. For his part, Enno was a happy-go-lucky optimist. Once a chansonnier before he became a journalist, he was as apt to make promises as to break them. Enno is the first man to break Sasha's heart. During their brief marriage, Enno had insisted on worrying about the money; his Pollyanna outlook on life, however, had proven inadequate in sustaining the couple's future.
As their financial situation worsened, Enno began to leave Sasha for days at a time. Eventually, Enno left altogether. Despite his faithlessness, Sasha continued to love him. It's quite clear that her vision of marriage conflicted with Enno's conception of sexual fidelity. Sasha's naive nature compelled her to trust implicitly, despite overwhelming evidence against such a stance. Throughout the novel, Sasha's alienation from men (after her disastrous relationship with Enno) and the larger culture is apparent.
There are no redeeming male characters in this novel, it seems. Sasha's infant son, his birth anticipated with quiet desperation by his mother, fails to survive. Sasha is as bereft of comfort as she is circumscribed by the parameters of her society. The novel certainly highlights male abandonment and its effects on women. Sasha's resulting alienation, however, remains largely hidden from others. Only we, the readers, are privy to her suffering. For her part, Sasha excels in keeping what she considers a vacant, neutral expression on her face. This neutral, dispassionate...
(The entire section contains 416 words.)
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