Part two, section 4

Wide Sargasso Sea pages 48 - 51: Thought then sleep ... The brevity of Rochester's youth

Synopsis of part two, section 4

When Rochester wakes it is evening and he and Antoinette have dinner. He is drawn by his new wife's beauty and, with the sensual effects of the tropical night, begins to feel close to her for the first time. But their conversation hints at the divisions to come. Both are lonely, yet neither can fully understand the other and they remain withdrawn in their own worlds.

Commentary on part two, section 4

  • Josephine de Beauharnais was a white Creole from Martinique who married Napoleon and became Empress of France in 1804. She made fashionable a particular high-waisted style of dress, but by French standards it was rather old fashioned by the time of their wedding.
  • St Pierre was the capital of Martinique, until destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1902.
  • Coralita is a climbing plant with coral-pink flowers.
  • Crac-cracs was the name given to insects like crickets or grasshoppers.
  • A species of Dominican firefly was named ‘beautiful one' in French.
  • Antoinette draws back from telling Rochester about her mother's mental state and her death. He is being kept in the dark about certain things.
  • Christophine repeats an old idea that the moon can induce madness. ‘Lunacy', a term for madness, comes from the word ‘lunar' meaning of the moon.

Investigating part two, section 4

  • Make notes on phrases and incidents in this section which hint at trouble to come in this relationship
  • What is the point of Antoinette's dream about the rats?
  • Compare Antoinette's dream about the rats with the other dreams in Part one
    • Is there a pattern to them?
Related material
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.