Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 995
*England. Although only the brief third section of the novel actually takes place in England, the country’s influence reverberates throughout. All the people in power are English: Antoinette’s father, stepfather, stepbrother, and husband; Aunt Cora’s husband; the island police; and the people in Spanish Town, Jamaica. Antoinette admires an English girl in a painting called “The Miller’s Daughter” but identifies with Tia, an African American girl. Antoinette cannot believe that England is real, just as Christophine does not believe its reality because she has not seen it. Christophine prophetically calls it a “cold thief place.” Even when Antoinette is taken to England, it seems real to her only once, when she is allowed to visit the countryside and see its grass, water, and trees. Otherwise she compares the house in which she is imprisoned to “cardboard” and thinks that she and her husband became lost on their way from the West Indies. For Antoinette, England is a cold place, and she is left longing for the passion and beauty of the West Indies.
*West Indies. Island chain separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean from the Atlantic Ocean, colonized by European powers. Antoinette blames her lack of identity on having grown up there. Her husband mistrusts his bride because of her foreign ways and blames the islands for tricking him into a loveless marriage. In contrast to England, the West Indies are warm and seductive, with the power to make people behave irrationally. Antoinette’s final desperate act is an attempt to return home.
*Jamaica. Island in the West Indies taken from the Spanish by the British, who made fortunes using slaves to raise sugarcane. Since emancipation in 1834, many freed slaves have grown to hate their impoverished former masters. Antoinette’s deceased father is a decadent, rich Englishman, her mother a beautiful young Creole from Martinique. After her father’s death and emancipation, the former slaves poison Antoinette’s mother’s horse, call the women “white cockroaches,” and burn their home. The English people in Jamaica scorn and gossip about the family.
Colibri. Jamaican estate where Antoinette spends her childhood. Like its row of royal palms which have been either cut down or have fallen, Antoinette is proud but lost. The warm, wrought iron handrail in front of Colibri comforts her, but the orchids in the overgrown garden seem like snakes and octopi. Despite the comforts of the isolating sea and mountains which surround Colibri, the stones which cannot be stolen or burned, and a big stick, her widowed mother’s focus on her sickly younger brother makes Antoinette feel unloved. The beauty and returning wealth of the place frighten the wild girl and help bring about Colibri’s destruction, just as Antoinette’s beauty and inheritance destroy her.
*Spanish Town. Town near Kingston where Antoinette lives with Aunt Cora after Colibri burns. The convent there, especially its cool stones and shadows, provides Antoinette some safety and security, though the threatening half-caste children and English people who gossip about her mother’s insanity grieve Antoinette. In Spanish Town, Antoinette’s mother marries Mr. Mason, just as Antoinette marries the groom arranged for her by Mr. Mason’s son. Unlike her mother, who dances gaily at her wedding to a wealthy man, Antoinette does not want to marry the strange, young Englishman who Aunt Cora and Christophine believe is only after her inheritance.
*Martinique (mahr-teen-EEK). French-ruled Windward Island near Antoinette’s honeymoon island. A former slave of Antoinette’s mother, Christophine is a strong woman feared by the indigenous population, of which she is a member, and is rumored to...
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