Wide Sargasso Sea

by Jean Rhys

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Part 2, Section 8 Summary

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Rochester and Antoinette are leaving Granbois. When Rochester looks at his wife’s face, he notices it is expressionless. She stares blankly ahead of her without one tear. Rochester concludes that Antoinette has no tears inside her; she is incapable of feeling any emotion. In contrast, when Rochester looks back at the old house, he feels sadness. The house will fall apart, he is sure. The forest will claim it now that there is no one left to take care of it. Rochester also notes that Baptiste looks very different. There is nothing in Baptiste’s treatment of Rochester to denote that he is Rochester’s servant. Although Baptiste has remained polite in his dealings with him, Rochester is well aware of the undercurrent of Baptiste’s contempt for him. Rochester believes that everyone thinks he is in the wrong in his relationship with and treatment of Antoinette.

Although Rochester appears conflicted—sometimes wanting to hold Antoinette and claim her, wrap his arms around her—he also is disquieted in Antoinette’s presence. When he looks at her, he sees her hatred for him. He meets her negative emotions with his own. Deep within him, he is angry that he allowed her to buy him, to lure him to her. He feels she betrayed him. She went along with her family’s plan. She pretended to love him so he would marry her. He promises himself that he will never allow her to deceive him again. He will never trust her again. He will never give her another chance to play to his vulnerabilities. He will only see the truth from now on, and the truth is that she hates him and he hates her. If they have to live out this hell, they will live it out together with neither of them allowed happiness. If she can hate, he will nurture a stronger hatred inside himself. His hate will destroy her. Even if Antoinette were able to release many tears as she said good-bye to Baptiste, it is all too late. Her tears would no longer temper his hardened emotions. He is tired of the conflicts inside of him. He has grown cold and empty, and he believes these negative emotions will save his sanity.

As they work their way down the mountains, Rochester thinks of how much he hates everything around him. He hates the people and the houses and the tropical environment. He decides not to keep the house, though Antoinette loves it. He decides to sell it so that it no longer exists in their lives.

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Part 2, Section 7 Summary


Part 3, Section 1 Summary