Wide Sargasso Sea

by Jean Rhys

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Who is Coco and what is their significance in Wide Sargasso Sea?

Quick answer:

In Wide Sargasso Sea, Coco is Annette's pet parrot. The bird is significant as it mirrors Antoinette's own caged experience and eventual death.

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Coco was the name of Annette’s green parrot. He talked a little bit but could only ask, "Who is here?" and answer, "That's Coco!" Mr. Mason clipped Coco’s wings off, and afterwards, Coco developed a bad temper. When he was sitting on Annette’s shoulders he would be quiet, but if anyone came close he would peck at their feet.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Mason is a white English man. The way his action ties Coco down serves as a symbol for the way white English men have historically worked to keep minorities, like people of color and women, in captivity. It is also interesting to consider how Antoinette’s description of Coco’s death foreshadows her own fate. Recall how she says the following:

I opened my eyes, everybody was looking up and pointing at Coco on the glacis railings with his feathers alight. He made an effort to fly down but his clipped wings failed him and he fell screeching. He was all on fire.

Coco, tied down by the actions of a white English man, does not have the ability to get himself out of the fire. Instead, he falls and is engulfed in flames. Later, Antoinette herself falls from Thornfield Hall while it burns. Like Coco, she became a spectacle for onlookers, someone people pointed at and made fun of, but in reality, she was only the way she was because she was tied down by a white English man.

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