Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

At this point the novel concludes, but not without one of the most controversial endings in modern literature. Sasha opens her arms to this man whom she detests, seemingly allowing both parts of herself to merge into a unity, and she utters the words, “Yes—yes—yes....” The words undeniably call to mind the conclusion of Molly Bloom’s famous soliloquy in James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), and because they do, many critics have allowed Joyce’s interpretation of Molly’s needs to direct their own responses to Sasha’s words. Since Molly’s series of yeses are usually considered to be totally affirmative of the life force and fertility cycles that guarantee continued rebirth, most critics of Rhys’s novel interpret Sasha’s series of yeses as affirmative, also signaling her willingness to accept love where she can find it. It is, however, quite possible to read Sasha’s yeses in another way and to recognize that a merger of the two aspects of Sasha’s character can be accomplished by an acceptance of reality. The yeses may simply mean that Sasha now realizes and accepts what life is. The two parts of her mesh to discover that this traveling salesman is all that there is. Life exists without dreams and illusory hopes.