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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?"

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(The entire section contains 532 words.)

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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 dark background to show up the bright colours.

Again, we see the protagonist's thoughtful meditations on the nature of joy and happiness and, on the flipside, pain and suffering. Her 1938 trip to Paris stands in sharp contrast to her carefree visit in the early 1920s, when her whole life seemed to be in front of her—when anything seemed possible. She wisely points out here that suffering in life is inevitable and necessary in order for people to experience joy.

After all this, what happened? What happened was that, as soon as I had the slightest chance of a place to hide in, I crept into it and hid. Well, sometimes it's a fine day isn't it? Sometimes the skies are blue. Sometimes the air is light, easy to breathe. And there is always tomorrow . . .

This quote touches on an ephemeral topic: the fine line between contentment and sadness. Some days are fine; others are unbearable, especially to someone who's as disappointed as Sasha. But the way she trails off with an ellipsis ("there is always tomorrow . . .") suggests that she's not going to give up on life, either.

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