Wide Sargasso Sea

by Jean Rhys

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Part 2, Section 3 Summary

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The setting returns to Antoinette’s and Richard’s honeymoon. It is late afternoon when Rochester enters the dining room where supper is being set up. He is taken by surprise by Antoinette’s beauty. He had never noticed it before. As they eat, Antoinette asks questions about Rochester’s home country, England. She has heard England referred to as a dream and wants to know if this is true. Rochester tells her that the island on which they are staying is like a dream to him. In essence, he points out that the definition of a dream can be applied to both, depending on one’s experience with each place. If one is familiar with a place, it does not seem like a dream. But if one has never visited a place or is new to it, then it feels like a dream setting. This exchange dramatizes the differences of Rochester’s and Antoinette’s worlds as well as their different ways of looing at life. Antoinette believes in mysteries and imaginings. Rochester is more practical and realistic. This also previews the various interpretations people will give Rochester about Antoinette’s life before he met her. This conversational sequence points out that every place and every story is open to individual interpretation.

This is the most idyllic time of Rochester’s and Antoinette’s relationship. They sleep together, make love, and wake up feeling happy. They enjoy one another’s company and take time to share details about themselves to become more deeply acquainted. Antoinette and Rochester are patient with one another in trying to understand their different personalities, their likes and dislikes, and the way they treat the people around them. For instance, Rochester tends to not like the black people who work at the house. Antoinette tells him that he just does not understand them. For example, Rochester thinks Christophine speaks rudely. She curses in front of them, which he thinks is disrespectful. Antoinette loves Christophine as she would a mother. She tries to explain that Christophine’s social manner is typical for the island people.

In the morning, Rochester is anxious to get out of bed and explore the area. However, Antoinette tells him she is lazy and often spends whole days in bed. She tells him to explore by himself and gives him directions on how to get to a bathing pool not too far away. Rochester does so without complaint. Later in the day Antoinette joins him at the pool and takes time to bathe him in the warm water. In the evening, they watch the sunset together from the veranda. At night, they sit there in the dark, allowing the moon to light the landscape.

Antoinette tells him about Granbois. At one time, the house was completely grown over by the forest. The house had been ransacked. Mr. Mason found Baptiste and brought him to Granbois. They reclaimed the house, and Baptiste was given the job of overseer, guarding the place when Antoinette’s family was not there. Her family often came in the summer months when it was too hot in Jamaica. Because Granbois was in the mountains, the weather was cooler. Antoinette confesses that Granbois is like a friend. She loves it and feels most comfortable and safe when she stays there.

It is at night that Rochester and Antoinette are the closest to one another. Antoinette seems to put on a mask during the day. She is mostly silent. But at night she opens up to him and tells him things about her past and about herself. One night, Antoinette confesses that she had no desire to live before Rochester came along. She also confides that she feels afraid of Rochester’s affections. She wants to know why he made her want to live. Rochester tells her that he merely wished it. But Antoinette asks what will happen to her if he suddenly does not wish it any more. Rochester answers that he would be foolish to stop wanting her to be happy because that would ruin his own pleasure. He continually attempts to reassure her that she is safe with him.

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Part 2, Section 2 Summary


Part 2, Section 4 Summary