Wide Sargasso Sea

by Jean Rhys

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Part 2, Section 6 Summary

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Rochester takes over the narration. He is at home while Antoinette is at Christophine’s. Baptiste tells Rochester where Antoinette has gone. While Rochester waits for Antoinette’s return, another letter arrives for him from Daniel. Before reading the letter, Rochester quizzes Amelie about Daniel; he wants to know if Daniel is Amelie’s friend. Amelie says he is not. Nonetheless, Rochester tells Amelie to tell Daniel that he no longer wants to receive letters from him. The letters make him angry. Then he asks if Daniel’s last name is Cosway. Amelie responds that some people say that is his name and some people say it is not, but Daniel refers to himself as a Cosway. There are apparently many questions about Daniel’s parentage. Daniel claims that he is half white because his father is Mr. Cosway, who is also Antoinette’s father.

Amelie tells Rochester that he should go visit Daniel and ask his questions in person. She confirms that Daniel is not a good person. If Rochester does not go see Daniel, Daniel might come to Rochester’s house, and that could cause a lot of trouble. Amelie also mentions a Mr. Alexander, a rich, “coloured” man in Jamaica who is possibly a distant relative of Antoinette’s. Mr. Alexander has a son named Sandi. There were rumors at one time that Antoinette and Sandi were to be married, but Amelie says she never believed the rumors because Antoinette is white and would never marry a black man.

Rochester goes to Daniel’s house. Daniel tells Rochester that Antoinette and Sandi were sexually involved with one another before Rochester came to Jamaica. Then he insinuates that Antoinette put a spell on Rochester so he would marry her. He also claims that Antoinette is crazier than her mother was. He states that Rochester must be deaf if he did not hear all the people laughing at him when he married Antoinette. Before Rochester leaves, Daniel tries to blackmail him; he tells Rochester to give him five hundred dollars to keep him silent. Rochester does not give in to Daniel’s demands. As Rochester leaves, Daniel tells Rochester to kiss Antoinette and give his sister his love. He does this merely to irritate Rochester.

That evening, Antoinette attempts to have a conversation with Rochester as she had promised Christophine she would do. Rochester asks that she answer certain questions. To one of them, she answers that her mother died not very long ago. She had recently told Rochester that her mother had died when she was a child. When he confronts her with this inconsistency, Antoinette says that in many ways, her mother did die when she was very young: on a psychological level, her mother was not available to her.

Rochester tells her about the letters he has received from Daniel. When he refers to the man as Daniel Cosway, Antoinette corrects him and says the man’s name is Daniel Boyd. She calls Daniel a liar and a hateful man out to destroy her because he does not like her.

When Rochester asks about the rumors of her mother’s insanity, Antoinette tells him the truth as she knows it of why her mother acted as she did. Antoinette claims that her mother was not insane; rather, she was pushed by circumstances so powerful that she had trouble standing up to them. She suffered the death of her husband and subsequent poverty. After her second marriage, she experienced the rebellion of the black workers and the death of her son. Antoinette’s mother blamed the loss of her home and son on Mr. Mason. She thought Mr. Mason was...

(This entire section contains 1036 words.)

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weak and wanted nothing to do with him. When she was unable to get over the loss of her son, Mr. Mason sent her to a country home, thinking this would heal her. However, Antoinette secretly visited her mother and learned how her mother was abused by the people in whose care Mr. Mason had placed her. The man at the house got her mother drunk and then had sex with her.

Rochester has difficulty believing Antoinette’s version of her background. His feelings for her have been corrupted by what Daniel has told him. When Rochester looks at Antoinette, instead of seeing his beautiful young wife he sees a mad person. He begins to call her Bertha, which is her first name, but she never uses this name and does not like it. Rochester insists on using it as if he wants to see his wife in a different light—not necessarily a better one. Antoinette senses this and accuses Rochester of making her into someone she is not

After their conversation, Antoinette uses the potion on Rochester. He comes to her bed and they make love, but Antoinette senses that even with the potion, Rochester no longer loves her. After Antoinette falls asleep, Rochester leaves her bed and goes to his sitting room. He senses he has been drugged. When Amelie brings food to his room, he seduces her; they have sex in the room next to Antoinette’s. The next morning, Rochester realizes that Antoinette heard him with Amelie. Because of this, Antoinette has lost all hope of reviving any feelings in Rochester. She drinks rum to excess and calls for Christophine. Baptiste hears her and leaves to bring Christophine to the house.

When Christophine arrives, she attempts to both chastise Rochester for what he has done and soothe Antoinette. Once Antoinette is asleep, Christophine goes to Rochester and tells him how he has ruined Antoinette. The girl had only once place on earth where she felt safe. It was this house, but Rochester has stolen that from her. All Antoinette will remember from now on will be how her husband betrayed her here.

For Antoinette’s sake, Christophine asks Rochester to give back some of Antoinette’s money. If he does this, Christophine will take care of her. But Rochester thinks that Christophine is merely looking out for herself and wants Antoinette’s money. He does not consider her proposition. Instead, he tells Christophine to go away and never come back. Rochester blames Christophine for everything that has happened.


Part 2, Section 5 Summary


Part 2, Section 7 Summary