Wide Sargasso Sea Part 2, Section 2 Summary

Jean Rhys

Part 2, Section 2 Summary

Rochester flashes back to when he first came to Jamaica, before he and Antoinette were married. He claims that the island and its people were “brightly coloured,” but they seemed very strange and he had no feelings for any of them, even Antoinette. He merely went about doing what was expected of him. He smiled at her, kissed her hand, and danced when it was expected of him. It was all a role for him. He was so unauthentic in dealing with the people that he was surprised no one noticed. The white people, in particular, appeared to see nothing lacking in his manner. If anyone showed any doubt about his performance, he saw it only on the faces of the black people. One expression he noticed on many faces, both white and black, was that of pity. He questions why that sentiment should appear.

Rochester then relates an experience that occurred the morning before his wedding: Richard Mason rushes into his room and announces that Antoinette has changed her mind. She no longer wants to marry Rochester. Rochester asks Richard the reason, but Richard does not know. Richard says Antoinette will not tell him. To find out why she has changed her mind, Rochester has to confront Antoinette.

Upon meeting with her, Rochester asks why she has said she will not marry him. Antoinette tells him she is afraid of what might happen. Rochester reminds her that he has told her that once she is his wife, she will no longer have to harbor any fears about anything. Antoinette responds that she heard Rochester laughing with Richard. She says she did not like the way he laughed, insinuating that she thought he was laughing at her. He tells her that he was merely laughing at himself, and then he kisses her. Antoinette softens with this kiss of reassurance. However, she still holds on to some doubts. She points out that Rochester knows very little about her. Rochester tries to calm her by telling her they both must learn to trust one another.

They maintain their embrace as Rochester attempts to reassure Antoinette that everything will turn out all right. He promises that their marriage will bring them peace and happiness. She will be forever safe. Then he tells her that if she were to refuse to marry him, his heart would be very sad. He adds that Richard would also be disappointed. He asks if this is the outcome she would prefer. Antoinette does not respond with words. Rochester recounts that she merely gave her consent for the marriage to move forward with a nod of her head.