Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 532
Jean Rhys's modernist 1939 novel Good Morning, Midnight is so beautifully written that it's difficult to choose just a few quotes. But let's look at a few passages that represent the four sections of this melancholy story.
"Quite like old times," the room says. "Yes? No?"
This quote is from the beginning of the story, when Sasha Jansen, a depressed woman who's struggling to recover from the disappointments of a failed marriage and the death of her child, returns to Paris. It was there—Paris—that she'd first visited as a fresher and more idealistic young woman, a newlywed with high hopes. "The room" referred to here is a cheap hotel room. The "old times" refers to the first trip to Paris. But we get a feeling of sadness right off the bat. Staying in a cheap hotel room is fun and spontaneous when you're twenty; perhaps less so in middle age.
My life, which seems so simple and monotonous, is really a complicated affair of cafés where they like me and cafés where they don't, streets that are friendly, streets that aren't, rooms where I might be happy, rooms where I shall never be, looking-glasses I look nice in, looking-glasses I don't, dresses that will be lucky, dresses that won't, and so on.
On Sasha's return to Paris in 1938, she's reflecting on her past. But she's also haunted by it. Stepping into certain cafés or walking down certain streets can be dangerous for Sasha, who's both vulnerable and depressed. She has to avoid remembering certain things because they could remind her of her happier days and of the loss she has experienced since then.
This quote also reveals her self-knowledge and even her self-acceptance. As a younger woman, she might have tried to please everyone—to be liked at every café. As an older woman, she knows that's a fool's errand.
We can't all be happy, we can't all be rich, we can't all be lucky—and it would be so much less fun if we were . . . There must be the...
(The entire section contains 532 words.)
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