Wide Sargasso Sea

by Jean Rhys

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Part 2, Section 4 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 550

Rochester receives a letter from a man who claims to be Daniel Cosway, an illegitimate son of Antoinette’s father. He tells Rochester his version of Antoinette’s family history. He begins his letter by telling Rochester that the Mason family has deceived him because they have not revealed all the details of Antoinette’s background. Then he provides details.

Daniel states that Antoinette’s father came from an evil family that was also fraught with madness. Both Antoinette’s father and grandfather were victims of madness, Daniel writes. After Antoinette’s father died, her mother married Mr. Mason, whom Daniel claims truly loved her. But this was not good enough for the woman. She went crazy like her first husband and threatened to kill Mr. Mason, who eventually had her locked away.

Daniel states that it is his Christian duty to tell Rochester of these facts. He has heard that Rochester is young and handsome and good to everyone, black and white. He fears that Antoinette has bewitched Rochester. Before closing, Daniel tells Rochester to come visit him because he has more to tell him.

Rochester has been out walking. After reading the letter, he returns home. He climbs up to the bedrooms and stops at the window and peers in at Antoinette. She is in bed. Amelie, a servant girl, is sweeping the floor. Amelie is telling Antoinette that Christophine is leaving because she does not like living in the “honeymoon house.” She then announces that Rochester is standing outside the window. Amelie says that he looks as if he is tired of the honeymoon house too. At this, Antoinette rushes at the girl and slaps her. Amelie is angered and calls Antoinette a white cockroach and smacks Antoinette’s face in retaliation. Rochester comes in and yells at his wife to stop the fighting. He tells Amelie to go away. He uses a gentle voice and refers to Amelie as child. Antoinette protests, yelling that Amelie is not a child—she knows exactly what she is doing, and what she is doing is evil.

Rochester calls for Christophine, who enters the room. When Antoinette confronts her about leaving, Christophine admits that it is true. She sees trouble brewing and feels too old to deal with it. She wants peace. When Amelie re-enters the room with jugs of water, Christophine sees the conniving smile on the girl’s face and tells her that if she sees that smile again, she will grind it off with her hands. After the girl leaves, Christophine calls Amelie a centipede.

Later that night, Rochester goes for a walk in the woods and becomes lost. Antoinette sends Baptiste to find him. While he was wandering in the woods, Rochester came across an old, rundown house. Baptiste tells him that an old priest used to live there. Rochester says he thought he felt the presence of a ghost, but Baptiste says he knows nothing about such stupid things.

At home, Rochester reads a book he has found in his room. The book describes the author’s knowledge of Voodoo, or Obeah, as the practice of black magic was called in these islands. The author insists that the black people refuse to talk about black magic even though there is evidence that it is practiced.

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Part 2, Section 5 Summary