Part two, section 2

Wide Sargasso Sea pages 42 - 46: The steep road ... Loss of memory

Synopsis of part two, section 2

Antoinette, Rochester and their servants travel up to Granbois. Despite the beauty of the landscape around him Rochester feels it is all too much for his English sensibilities. He is also preoccupied with the background to his marriage and hopes that he has redeemed himself in the eyes of his family. No longer a poor younger son, he has Antoinette's money now that he has married her. Yet he is uneasy about her and their relationship. The way in which he reveals his thoughts is quite jumpy and fragmented, an indication of his disturbed state of mind.

Commentary on part two, section 2

  • Rochester's payment for marrying Antoinette is significant. He is a younger son and under English law will not inherit his father's property. Although a smaller amount of money might be settled on younger sons, they were also expected to make their way in the world and find sources for their own wealth. Marrying a rich heiress, like Antoinette, was one way of doing this. In Jane Eyre Rochester makes an arranged marriage with Bertha and receives £30,000. In today's money that represents something like £1,500,000, a fortune.
  • Antoinette was economically vulnerable as she was not financially provided for. Under English law at this time a married woman's money and property belonged to her husband. However, money could be settled on a woman independently by special legal arrangements.
  • Rochester refers to a legend in which Faust sells his soul to the Devil.
  • The lovely yet isolated birdsong springs from Rhys' memories of a local mountain bird, a thrush, she called the Solitaire.
  • A screw pine is a tree with sword shaped leaves and pineapple shaped fruits.
  • The Creole word ‘da' means nurse.
  • My nurse long ago: Christophine would not be able to go back home to Martinique because on that island the slaves were not freed until 1848.
  • Christophine uses creole terms of love and endearment.
  • Rum punch is a drink made from rum. Rum itself is a spirit made from sugar.
  • A Spanish variety of orange is Seville. It is significant that Rochester can name only the crop plants of interest to Europeans.Lord Byron
  • Wooden roof tiles are called shingles.
  • Lord Byron (1788-1824) was the most famous English poet of the first decades of the nineteenth century.
  • Walter Scott (1771-1832) was, like Byron, a writer in the Romantic tradition. He was the author of a number of very popular historical novels, including Ivanhoe.
  • Confessions of an Opium Eater is a text written by Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859) and published in 1821.
  • Tropical insects have consumed much of the biography.
  • After Mr Mason's death, Richard Mason, as his son and her step-brother, would be responsible for Antoinette and the person with whom Rochester deals.
  • At the end of the section, Rochester admits to his deeply troubled mental state.

Investigating part two, section 2

  • How does Rochester react to the tropical landscape?
  • Alone in his room Rochester re-reads a letter he has written to his father
    • Compare the account he gives his father with his narrative in the first two sections of part two and make notes on the differences.
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