Wide Sargasso Sea

by Jean Rhys

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Part 2, Section 1 Summary

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The majority of Part Two is told through the character of Edward Rochester. Richard Mason, the son of Antoinette's stepfather, has arranged a marriage between Antoinette and Edward Rochester. Part Two begins after their wedding. The couple has gone to the tropical mountains of one of the Windward Islands, celebrating their honeymoon. They are staying at a small estate that was once owned by Antoinette's mother. Antoinette feels very much at home there, calling out the names of many of the people they pass on their journey to her mother's home. Rochester comments on the language Antoinette speaks to her old acquaintances. It is not French, but a derivative, referred to as "debased French patois." Everything feels very exotic for Rochester, who barely even knows what Antoinette looks like, as they were married one month after he arrived in Jamaica, and he was sick with a fever for three weeks of that time.

The character Amelie is introduced. She is a young black girl, hired to help the couple in their daily routine at the house. She has an intelligent look about her, Rochester states, and she tends to be slightly disrespectful in her demeanor. Sometimes Rochester feels dismissed by the way Amelie stares at him in disbelief at some of his comments, especially those he makes about the people and their way of life in the islands.

Rochester's first impression of the island is that everything is extreme. There is too much sunlight, too much green, and too much heat and rain. As they climb the mountain on their horses, Rochester imagines a letter he must write to his father in an attempt to explain what he is going through. He mentions the money he was given to marry Antoinette and expresses the sentiment that she has bought him.

At the house, they meet the people who will take care of them while they are there. Baptiste is the main caretaker of the manor, which is named Granbois. Christophine is also there. Christophine is the woman who helped raise Antoinette in Jamaica.

After arriving at the house and upon inspection of the interior, Rochester finds most of the rooms nearly empty, with only a few scattered pieces of shabby furniture. But when Antoinette shows him the room that has been designated as his dressing room, Rochester is surprised. The room is carpeted and filled with well crafted furniture. A beautiful writing desk stands to the side, supplied with pen and ink. Baptiste tells Rochester that this room was originally furnished for Mr. Mason, Antoinette's stepfather. However Mason seldom came to the house. Baptiste tells Rochester that Mason did not like the place.

When he is alone, Rochester writes his letter to his father. One of the details Rochester offers is that Mr. Mason is dead. Rochester gives scant details about his marriage or illness. He tells his father he will write more when his health has been fully restored.

This section of the novel ends after Rochester has completed his letter. He admits to himself as he rereads what he has written that there are many impressions that he cannot put into words. He does not completely understand them himself. He has done what his father asked him to do, to come to Jamaica and to marry this woman he barely knows. He does not yet know what he thinks about all these new things.

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Part 1, Section 2 Summary


Part 2, Section 2 Summary