Part two, section 11

Wide Sargasso Sea pages 67 - 75: Antoinette ignores Rochester ... She touches Christophine's package

Synopsis of part two, section 11

The narrative voice changes abruptly to Antoinette for this section. Her relationship with Rochester is troubled and she visits Christophine to ask for her advice. Christophine tells her to leave, then Rochester will have more respect for her and may discover that he really does love her. Antoinette discloses that, as a woman married under English law, she has now no money of her own. Antoinette persuades the reluctant Christophine to use her powers in obeah and give her something that will make Rochester love her again.

Commentary on part two, section 11

  • According to Christophine, the soul is encased by the body. Her phrase suggests ‘wearing you out'.
  • The chief devil, sometimes simply called the Devil, is also known as Satan, a name which means enemy (see Big ideas: Serpent, Devil, Satan, Beast). He is associated with hell, depicted in the Bible as a place of eternal fire.
  • Christophine tells Antoinette that accounts of obeah are fairy tales, make believe.
  • The patois term for a white person is béké.
  • Christophine uses affectionate patois endearments to Antoinette.
  • Rochester has started to call Antoinette Bertha, his wife's name in Jane Eyre.
  • Christophine's description of Aunt Cora comes from the Old Testament account of a man who has discovered he is about to die 2 Kings 20:1-3 and turns his face to the wall.
  • Richard Mason's opinion that Antoinette is fortunate to find a husband alludes to the madness in Antoinette's family background.
  • Aunt Cora echoes the claim of some in the Old Testament that they had been abandoned by God, usually a consequence of their rejection of him (Judges 6:13)
  • Christophine tells Antoinette to act like a ghostly blood-sucking woman. Rhys explained that such figures appeared as ordinary in daylight but could still be identified because of having red eyes.
  • The Sunday before Easter, commemorating the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem on a donkey, is known as Palm Sunday. Christophine combines two systems of belief; obeah and Catholicism. (See:  Religious / philosophical context > Religion)
  • The crowing of a cockerel is associated with the cockerel which Jesus predicted would signify that his disciple Peter had denied him
  • Antoinette makes another reference to betrayal, this time to the New Testament account of Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' disciples, who betrayed him to his enemies for thirty pieces of silver.

Investigating part two, section 11

  • The narration shifts to Antoinette at this point in part two:
    • Why do you think Jean Rhys decided to do this?
  • There is a puzzling time shift in the narration when Antoinette says that she was thinking of selling another ring on the previous day. This suggests that her narrative perspective is from Thornfield Hall, after her arrival in England
    • What is the effect?
    • Why does she not take that advice?
  • Antoinette goes to Christophine for help and advice:
    • Why does she not take that advice?
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