Tia would harass Antoinette because Antoinette’s family, once a wealthy slave-owning family, was just as poor as many of the black families living nearby. Antoinette says there are “plenty white people in Jamaica. Real white people, they got gold money. They didn’t look at us, nobody see them come near us. Old time white people nothing but white nigger now, and black nigger better than white nigger.
” It seems almost as if Antoinette is in a no win situation, she is attacked for being white, yet in the same paragraph, it seems that she is attacked again for not being white enough.No matter what people try to do their past always haunts them, and this is the case in Wide Sargasso Sea as even Tia who had played with Antoinette in the past causes her harm by throwing a rock at her. “We stared at each other, blood on my face, tears on hers. It was as if I saw myself. Like in a looking-glass. ” The image of the looking glass is important because it symbolizes Antoinette’s need to find her “other” self – her identity.
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Her inability to reach through to the other side of the mirror symbolizes her inability to find and grasp that other self.Antoinette doesn’t appear to get any form of support from her mother, who is more preoccupied with the young invalid, Pierre, and she looks up to her nanny Christophine for support. Christophine is black, Antoinette is white. Antoinette will always be beke; that is to say, she will always be classed as a white minority. However, she does not have the views and values of money that most beke have. Because she is a woman, she does not have access to her beke money, but she is barred from the black culture because of her whiteness.Despite her close relationship with Christophine, Antoinette is still not let entirely into the black culture, again indicating the legacy of slavery, and how the Black people will not forget their treatment easily. Throughout the novel, there are various examples of difficult times in the past and these are subtly included by Rhys.
The place of Rochester’s and Antoinette’s honeymoon is in a place called Massacre, in the Dominican Republic. According to local folklore, a mixed race man was murdered by his white half brother.Even this minute inclusion helps to demonstrate the mistrust between the black and white populations, and the deeply steeped hatred between them.
There is also a strong sense of irony in the novel, with Mason stating about the local black population: “They’re too damn lazy to be dangerous…
I know that. ” It was a rather large mistake he made in underestimating the hatred that the Blacks held towards the White people. When you are poor and in strife, like most of the Blacks were, the extent to how far they would go could never be underestimated.It is hardly surprising that Jamaica held the record for the largest number of rebellions against White ex-slave owners. In conclusion, I would not only like to comment on the ill treatment that the slaves incurred, but I would also like to comment on the way in which Antoinette never forged a serious relationship with anyone.
She was the eternal outcast, as far as the story goes, and only regains her lost dignity and her identity when she burns down Thornfield Hall and jumps into the pool that symbolises her death.By jumping into the pool, she is finally able to merge the colonial blackness and Creole whiteness that have torn her apart and driven her to madness. Antoinette’s disillusionment in her relationships with her mother and her husband, her lack of a strong connection with Christophine and Tia, and her inability to be completely understood by either the white culture or the black culture leave her as a woman without an identity driven into madness.
Rhys’s depiction of the effects of colonialism in the West Indies is a dark one.Antoinette’s life is a picture of heartbreak, destruction and insanity in which there can be no “in-betweens. ” Rhys is able, however, to allow her character to transcend the bounds of repetitious entrapment which characterize so many stories of the Caribbean and allow her character liberation. It is fairly evident that the legacy and history of slavery was a particularly important issue to Rhys whilst writing the Wide Sargasso Sea. The whole novel has a racial undertone, with fear, anxiety and danger surrounding the conflicts between the “white cockroaches” and the “niggers.” I indeed can see how the Blacks are almost justified in their hated towards the Whites, as they were treated diabolically. However, you cannot change the past, so is it therefore fair of the Blacks to punish Antoinette for mistakes her family made years before?Bibliography Primary Source Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (Penguin, 2001) Secondary Sources A.
E. Smith, Colonists in Bondage: White Servitude and Convict Labour (Chapel Hill, 1947).