Good Morning, Midnight Characters

Jean Rhys

The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

The only fully developed character in the novel is Sasha, from whose point of view the story is told. Since Sasha is troubled, at times almost schizoid, her perceptions sometimes seem vague and dreamlike, sometimes hallucinatory and distorted, and sometimes lucid with pristine clarity. In addition, characterization is effected by tone and style. The precariousness and numbness that Sasha feels, for example, is exemplified in her need to order her life into small bundles, a need impressed upon the reader by Rhys’s use of a sentence structure whose staccato arrangements of clauses and phrases make the point as much as the words do. “I have been here five days. I have decided on a place to eat in at midday, a place to eat in at night, a place to have my drink in after dinner. I have arranged my little life.”

Each day Sasha awakes, dresses, chooses a restaurant for her food, takes her Pernod at a cafe, goes to a cinema or does some other carefully planned activity (buys a hat or goes to her hairdresser), speaks only if spoken to, and goes to sleep at night with the help of a sleeping potion. Men approach her and to some she responds, but she knows that she must always be careful. Each man wants something from her, wants to use her in some way. She must be careful about the places she frequents and the streets she walks because at any time she can be plunged back into memories of painful times or, even worse, of happy times that gave way to grief.


(The entire section is 539 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Sasha Jansen

Sasha Jansen, the narrator and protagonist, a woman whose fading good looks are synonymous in her mind with her fading chances for happiness. Very few details of her childhood are provided. Even her real name is missing: Sasha, she says, is an affectation. Her story begins shortly after she has a chance meeting with an old friend who, shocked by Sasha’s appearance, sends her to Paris for a much-needed change of scene. Her routine in Paris becomes a series of solitary outings to clothing shops and bars. She encounters strangers, mostly men, in the bars and cafés, but instead of getting to know these people, she concentrates on her own lack of self-worth, thus effectively ruining these relationships before they begin. What is known of her earlier life is revealed in cinematic flashbacks about an earlier time, five years ago, when she is married to the vagabond Enno, with whom she has a child who dies soon after birth. Her husband drifts in and out of her life, telling her that she does not know how to love, and finally leaves her to endure the agony of the child’s death alone. Five years later, she still suffers from these experiences, attributing her sadness not to one thing but to a slow process that took years to produce. Men, even the insignificant men in her life, determine the few decisions made in the novel—the patriarchy pervades her life. Her profound sense of loneliness, isolation, and lack of direction all converge in...

(The entire section is 593 words.)