The Effects of Multiperspectival Narration on the Representation of Christophine in 'Wide Sargasso Sea'


Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2010
39 Pages, Grade: 1,3

Excerpt

Contents

1 Introduction

2 General Aspects of Antoinette’s and Edward’s Narration and Focalisation in Rhys’s Multiperspectival Novel

3 Antoinette’s and Edward’s Narrator/Character Perspectives
3.1 Antoinette’s Narrator/Character Perspective
3.2 Edward’s Narrator/Character Perspective
3.3 Résumé and Interim Conclusion about Antoinette’s and Edward’s Narrator/Character Perspectives

4 The Representation of Christophine from Antoinette’s and Edward’s Perspectives
4.1 Antoinette’s Representation of Christophine as a Surrogate Mother
4.2 Antoinette’s Representation of Christophine as an Obeah Woman
4.3 Edward’s Representation of Christophine as a Lazy Servant and Intimidating Woman
4.4 Edward’s Representation of Christophine as an Obeah Woman

5 Analysis of the Effects of Multiperspectivity on the Representation of Christophine

6 The Function of Christophine for the Development of the Plot
6.1 Christophine’s Role in the Plot in Terms of Her Influence on Antoinette in “Part One” and “Part Two”
6.2 Christophine’s Role in the Plot in Terms of Her Influence on Edward
6.3 Christophine’s Role in the Plot in Terms of Her Influence on Antoinette in “Part Three”

7 Interpretation and Discussion of Christophine’s Representation in Wide Sargasso Sea

8 Conclusion

9 Bibliography

10 Appendix: The Narrative and Communicative Structure of Wide Sargasso Sea and the Representation of Christophine in the Multiperspectival Novel

1 Introduction

‘There is always the other side, always’, says Antoinette in Rhys’s novel Wide Sargasso Sea (77). More than three different sides, or perspectives, are represented in this novel, Rhys’s “best work” (Dash 196), which tells the reader about Antoinette and her development to the madwoman on Edward Rochester’s attic. In her re-writing of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (cf. Thieme 81 ff.), Rhys intended to make Antoinette’s, or Bertha’s, life story appear (more) convincing. Thus, she decided that in spite of Antoinette as the only first-person narrator “[a]nother ‘I’ must talk, two other perhaps. Then the Creole’s ‘I’ will come to life.” (Selected Letters 137). As a result, the novel is a multiperspectival narration “in which the story is refracted through the perspective of two focalisers […] or reflectors” (Neumann/Nünning 102) who also function as the narrators of the story. These two narrator-focalisers are Antoinette and her English husband[1] who alternately present the reader with their subjective accounts of their honeymoon which is framed by Antoinette’s narrations in “Part One” about her childhood and in “Part Three” about her confinement in the attic of Edward’s mansion.

Besides Edward as a narrator, Rhys also mentions another “I” that talks by whom the author very likely refers to Christophine, Antoinette’s black nurse, a Martinique obeah[2] woman who provides a third viewpoint on the action.[3] However, as multiperspectivity “shift[s] the reader’s attention from the events recounted on the level of the characters to the subjectivity of each of the presented perspectives” (Neumann/Nünning 102), Christophine rather appears as a minor character in Antoinette’s and Edward’s narration. Still, she seems to be an important and influencing person for Antoinette, and she also is a character Antoinette’s husband is very much concerned with and concerned about. At some crucial moments in the plot Christophine is involved in longer dialogues with Antoinette and her husband in which her own perspective on the events is revealed. Nonetheless, Christophine’s voice is transmitted only indirectly and quite rarely by the two narrators.

In literary criticism there has been a lot of controversy concerning the representation of Christophine in Rhys’s novel. The debate circles around the question in how far the character is significant for the action taking place in the narrative and in how far the woman contributes to the meaning of the novel. Whereas Gayatri Spivak sees Christophine as “tangential to this narrative” (246), Benita Parry regards her as an important source of “counter-discourse” against the colonial authority (cf. 249). Carine Mardorossian argues that by Antoinette’s and her husband’s cultural and racial presumptions about Christophine and the other black characters as racial Others the white protagonists are themselves being debunked of their imperialist, stereotypical thinking (cf. 1071-1090).

This paper intends to provide several close textual analyses of Rhys’s text as a basis to discuss these controversial interpretations about Christophine. Therefore, it will be shown how Christophine is represented by the two narrator-focalisers Antoinette and Edward and which effects the multiperspectival narration in the novel has on the depiction of the black woman and also on Antoinette and Edward themselves. As the reader notices throughout the novel, Antoinette’s and Edward’s relationship as a newly-married couple is marked by “a mutual incomprehension” which is caused by their different social and cultural backgrounds (Thorpe 178, Ramchand 184). Thus, it is clear that both narrator-focalisers have their very own points of view and their own way of seeing reality and “truth”. Antoinette’s and Edwards different personalities and views are also mirrored in their accounts of Christophine who they often describe divergently.

To understand the representation of Christophine in Rhys’s novel, it is necessary “to read against the grain” (Mardorossian 1077) of Antoinette’s and her husband’s narration. Before describing and comparing how the narrators present Christophine, it is therefore essential to find out about Antoinette’s and Edward’s own narrator/character perspectives[4] because they influence their “view of reality” (Neumann/Nünning 57) and, of course, their perception of Christophine. Thus, Antoinette’s and Edward’s individual perspectives, their “levels of knowledge”, their “psychological dispositions” and their “values and norms” need to be examined as they set the frame for understanding their ambiguous depictions of Christophine.

It is argued in this paper that Christophine’s rather “tangential” representation in the narrative is an effect of the novel’s multiperspectival narration which obliterates the woman’s actual significance. To reveal how important Christophine’s role in the narrative actually is, and to make her own perspective more visible, her function for the development of the plot will also be examined. This analysis will shed light on Christophine’s great potential as an advisor, or mediator, to help Antoinette and her husband, if only her attempts were not ignored and misunderstood by the two protagonists.

In a final discussion, the results of these analyses of the novel’s multiperspectivity, the perspectives and attitudes of its narrator-focalisers and Christophine’s (potential) function in the plot will be used to interpret Christophine’s role in the narrative and to discuss Spivak’s, Parry’s and Mardorossian’s opinions about this character.

2 General Aspects of Antoinette’s and Edward’s Narration and Focalisation in Rhys’s Multiperspectival Novel

As a multiperspectival novel Wide Sargasso Sea is structured in a specific way that allows the two narrator-focalisers Antoinette and Edward to present events and characters from their different perspectives. In general, multiperspectivity “is relevant to both narration and focalization, and refers to a form of narrative transmission in which a subject-matter - for example, an event, a period or a character - is presented from two or several different perspectives” (Neumann/Nünning 102).

In terms of the novel’s narrative structure, the reader finds that the two narrator-focalisers present their stories alternately and that they, unlike usual narrators, start their narrations without an exposition and without any transitions from one narrator to the other (cf. ibid. 93). Concerning the novel’s topic and its narrative structure Louis James points out that Wide Sargasso Sea “is a work of imagination and intuition, one which cannot be identified with a single character, exploring an experience of alienation that is not confined to one racial group or even to the Caribbean itself. Its fragmented narrative, which contains unexplained gaps and silences, deliberately deconstructs a single authorial point of view” (39).

These gaps and silences in Rhys’s novel, created by its specific way of narrative transmission, have a puzzling effect on the reader who has to sort out him-/herself whether Antoinette or Edward is narrating and also in how far the narrators’ accounts do, or do not match with what has been told before.

Concerning Antoinette’s narration, it can be assumed that the adult Antoinette recounts her life story in her narration when she is already confined in the attic at Thornfield Hall because some of her comments in the text reveal that she knows where she is going to end up (cf. Rhys, WSS 67). As Jean Rhys states, the action in the narrative takes place “between 1834 and 1845” and Antoinette “isn’t much over twenty” when she is confined in the attic of Thornfield Hall (Selected Letters 145).

Edward’s narration can be read like a diary in which he notes down what happens during his stay in the Caribbean, but it also can be read as a piece of writing, constructed from retrospective, which has the intention to explain and justify his treatment of his wife. An example from which a retrospective writing can be inferred is when Edward decides that he will “‘Not now [...]. Not yet’” stand up against Christophine, but it seems that he (as the narrator) already knows that he will later banish the woman and therewith separate her from Antoinette (cf. Rhys, WSS 53).

With regard to the focalisation in Rhys’s multiperspectival novel, the reader first of all is confronted with Antoinette’s younger focaliser/ “experiencing I” from whose viewpoint of a young girl “Part One” is narrated. The adult narrator-focaliser Antoinette additionally sometimes comments on the events related in “Part One”. For the reader, these remarks mainly appear in brackets and they sometimes are marked by a shift in the verb tenses (cf. e.g. Rhys, WSS 10, 13, 15, 31, 53, cf. also Mardorossian 1075). Despite these interruptions the perspective of Antoinette as the younger focaliser is, unlike the 19th-century first person narrative conventions, not subordinated to the ideological point of view of the adult narrator (cf. Mardorossian 1075). Thus, “the novel offers a narrator-focalizer whose own limited knowledge and problematic values highlight her unreliability as she is shown desperately trying to patch together the fragments of her disintegrating world” (ibid., cf. also Hulme 10).

Furthermore, Antoinette’s accounts in the second and third part of the narrative are presented, just like Edward’s, from her adult perspective.

3 Antoinette’s and Edward’s Narrator/Character Perspectives

3.1 Antoinette’s Narrator/Character Perspective

In “Part One” of the novel, Antoinette is depicted as a young girl who does not seem to know anything about the social, political and economic situation after the Emancipation Act in Jamaica. Thus, Antoinette’s “level of knowledge” as a child appears very restricted. This is also revealed by Antoinette’s habit to simply replicate statements and explanations of her mother or her nurse Christophine (cf. Mardorossian 1072/73). For example, she exactly reverberates Christophine’s explanation about the fact that Antoinette’s mother is not in the white people’s “ranks” which is “‘because she pretty like pretty self’” (cf. Rhys, WSS 9). Even though Christophine, of course, knows the true reason for this situation,[5] it can be supposed that she tells the girl something different because the child would not understand, or should not yet know, about the complicated social, political and economic situation in Jamaica after the Emancipation Act. Also, when Antoinette hears that her mother lets “sleeping curs lie” when dealing with the servant Godfrey who might force them out, Antoinette lets “sleeping dogs lie” when she is called “white cockroach” by the black children in the neighbourhood (cf. ibid. 13, cf. Mardorossian 1072/73). This behaviour shows on the one hand that the young Antoinette, like children sometimes do, uses phrases she has picked up even though she does not really know about their meaning. On the other hand the replication of other people’s opinions indicates that Antoinette does not develop any “values and norms” (Neumann/Nünning 57) of her own, and these also remain rather undefined as an adult for a long time.[6]

In terms of the adult Antoinette’s “level of knowledge”, it turns out that she rather likes to forget about Emancipation and her family’s past, even though she tells her husband a lot about her childhood memories. When Edward asks certain questions, for example about the name of the village Massacre and if slaves have been massacred there, she reacts shocked and says “‘Something [else] must have happened long time ago. Nobody remembers now’” (Rhys, WSS 38). Later, she explains to Edward that in the times after Emancipation “[m]any died in those days, both white and black [...], but no one remembers now. They are forgotten, except the lies” (ibid. 79).

During her childhood, Antoinette, as a white Creole descended from a slave-owner and a white woman from Martinique, suffers from the effects of Emancipation in Jamaica. Not being in the “ranks” with the other “white people”, Antoinette’s family is, like her mother says, “marooned” (ibid. 10), as they are isolated and threatened by the black community who despises the Cosway family. Antoinette grows up fatherless at Coulibri Estate, a decaying place that is barely visited by other white people and which has “gone wild” because there are no more workers after the abolition of slavery (cf. ibid. 11). The girl feels very lonely because only her mother, her younger handicapped brother and the servants Christophine and Godfrey live on the estate. Outside of Coulibri Antoinette does not have any further positive social contacts. As a white Creole Antoinette is a character “living in between cultures” (Emery 165). Being “caught between the English imperialist and the black native” (Spivak 242), she is trying to find a place where she belongs to. Whereas the English imperialist side is represented by her own family and later her stepfather Mr Mason and her English husband, the black natives are represented by characters such as the servants at Coulibri and the honeymoon house and, for example, the black community around Coulibri Estate (among them Tia). Unfortunately, Antoinette experiences repudiation from both sides.

Being unaware of the social and historical circumstances and the “morally shameful history” of her ancestors (Emery 165), Antoinette faces rejection from the black children in her neighbourhood who call her “white cockroach” and tell her to “go away” (Rhys, WSS ibid. 13) because, as Antoinette only knows: “They hated us” (ibid.).[7] Antoinette’s black nurse Christophine is aware of Antoinette’s isolated situation and she tries to help her by bringing her friend’s daughter Tia around so that they can play together (cf. ibid. 13). Like Christophine herself, her friend Maillotte and her daughter Tia are not Jamaican either, and they probably, like Christophine, do not fully belong to the black Jamaican community (cf. ibid. 12). Thus, Christophine might have considered it possible for the two outsider girls to become friends. Unfortunately, Antoinette’s and Tia’s friendship does not last long because of their different social and racial backgrounds. In a quarrel between the girls which has begun with a discussion about money, Tia makes clear to Antoinette that she does not want to associate with her whom she considers a racist and poor descendant of a slave-owner: “She [Tia] hear all we poor like beggar. [...] Old time white people nothing but white nigger now, and black nigger better than white nigger” (ibid. 14). Later, Tia is among the black people who attack the family and burn Coulibri Estate down.[8]

In addition to Antoinette’s painful experiences with the black children near Coulibri, Antoinette has to suffer from rejection by her own mother who only cares for her younger, handicapped brother Pierre, or spends time by herself wandering around the decaying estate and talking to herself (cf. ibid. 11, 13, 21). Mrs Cosway’s denial to bond with her daughter, has very serious effects on Antoinette’s “psychological disposition” as a child and as an adult. For a child usually the mother is the first mirror in which the child’s own identity finds reflection. The denial of that reflection as well as the fact that she cannot associate with her mother as another white Creole in order to develop a cultural identity, a “shared culture, a sort of collective ‘one true self’” (Hall 393), makes it impossible for Antoinette to constitute an autonomous identity in general (cf. Scharfman 99-100, cf. Fayad 228, cf. Thorpe 176). As a result she is insecure, fearful and confused. These feelings become even worse in her adult life when she realises that she is not loved by her English husband either, who is unable to understand or accept her Creole background (cf. Rhys, WSS 64 ff.).

Antoinette’s “cultural marginality” and the experience of rejection from black people as well as white people like her mother and later her husband, lead to a “psychological uncertainty” in so far that she has a divided psyche which makes her Other to herself and which does not permit her a “unified - even if illusory - sense of self” (cf. Emery 165-166). On Antoinette’s lifelong quest for identity and a place of belonging, she unsuccessfully tries to find her reflection in other people than her mother, such as Tia (cf. Rhys, WSS 27) or her husband and Christophine. For reassurance she often looks into a mirror as an adult woman which constitutes an action that is also an imitation and mirroring of her own mother’s behaviour. Mardorossian points out that Antoinette is so “fragmented, insecure, and disoriented [...] that she [...]” - not only because of her restricted level of knowledge as a child, but also because of her uncertain and fragmented sense of self - “seems to function merely by internalizing others’ - especially her mother’s - language and contradictory values” (1072/73, also cf. beginning of this chapter).

Because of her unstable sense of self, Antoinette does not seem to have any clear “values and norms” of her own and she often switches her opinions. This is also true for Antoinette’s feeling of displacement which makes her quest for identity additionally a “quest for ‘elsewhere’ as an alternate history and community” (Emery 167/172, cf. also Scharfman). Antoinette is not clear about which “elsewhere” she should decide for and for what reason. After Antoinette is denied by her own mother, she tries to find a place among the black characters such as Tia and Christophine. As Scharfman maintains, “[h]er need to identify and to belong is so powerful that she would gladly change color if she could, feeling as close a bond with Christophine and to her little friend Tia as she ever will to anybody. Ironically, to be the same as they, Antoinette would have to be able to differ from herself” (101).

When the young woman Antoinette visits Christophine at her house during her honeymoon, she is sure to have found her place of belonging at the black woman’s house: “This is my place and this is where I belong and this is where I wish to stay” (Rhys, WSS 65). Contradictorily to this thought, she then talks about her wish about going to England and Antoinette believes that she would be “a different person” there, where “different things will happen” to her (ibid. 66). Antoinette only knows England as a place “rosy pink in the geography book” with exotic names and an exotic climate where snow falls like white feathers from the sky (cf. ibid. 66-67). Christophine reacts critically when Antoinette tells her about her imaginations about England and is not sure that “there is such a place at all” (ibid. 67). Antoinette gets angry about Christophine and thinks: “How can she know the best thing for me to do, this ignorant, obstinate old negro woman, who is not certain if there is such a place as England?” (ibid.). Here it also becomes visible that Antoinette falls into a racial thinking in which she denies Christophine the ability of judgement. This makes clear that Antoinette herself is unable to overcome her internalised stereotypes[9], and this conversation clearly emphasizes the differences between Antoinette as a white Creole and young woman with an unstable sense of self and Christophine as a black woman who has the “spunks” to “live in this wicked world” (cf. ibid. 60, 69, 101, cf. Wilson 444-445). In terms of Antoinette’s quest for elsewhere her older “narrating I” knows that her fantasies about England will not become true and that her real “dream” will be about something else later:

“For I know that house where I will be cold and not belonging [...]. In that bed I will dream the end of my dream. But my dream had nothing to do with England [...]” (ibid. 67).

Yet for now, Antoinette “cannot believe herself outside of her husband’s control; there is nowhere for her to run” (Winterhalter 220-221, italics mine[10] ). Even though she has experienced problems in her relationship with her husband, which are also based on cultural differences between him as an Englishman and her as a white Creole, Antoinette wants to use an obeah love potion “to complete her assimilation to England and to whiteness” and therewith denies her own Caribbean culture (cf. Drake 198). Her plan with the potion does not work out and Antoinette remains unable to fight for herself until she is confined at her husband’s house, where she finally sets fire to the building in order to break free. This is also the point at which Antoinette finally finds her identity, and therewith also her “values and norms” in the association with the Caribbean as her home and place of belonging.[11]

3.2 Edward’s Narrator/Character Perspective

Edward Rochester’s perspective as a young Englishman, who has never been to the West Indies before, is especially marked by his very restricted “level of knowledge” about life in the Caribbean and by his very confused “psychological disposition”. His “values and norms” as an Englishman influence the way he sees the Caribbean world and how he interacts with his wife, Christophine and other characters.

As Spivak maintains, Edward Rochester “is a victim of the patriarchal inheritance law of entailment” as his “situation is clearly that of a younger son dispatched to the colonies to buy an heiress” (243, cf. Rhys WSS 41 with note 2). In the beginning of his narration Edward relates that he has not had a good start in the West Indies. After his arrival in Jamaica the different climate has made him ill and Edward states that he has not got to know his wife very much before the wedding: “I was married a month after I arrived in Jamaica and for nearly three weeks of that time I was in bed with fever” (Rhys, WSS 39). He relates how alien his Creole wife, this “stranger” seems to him (cf. ibid. 55). As Ramchand points out Edward is “conscious of the cultural difference between himself and his West Indian wife” (184), and the young man admits that “I felt very little tenderness for her, she was a stranger to me, a stranger who did not think or feel as I did” (Rhys, WSS 55).

Edward also reveals that he feels being bought, and therewith stripped of his control by Antoinette, because of his father’s demand to marry (cf. 39, 41, 60). It is depicted that in his mind Edward formulates an angry letter to his father in which he explains that his wife’s dowry has been paid to him “without question” and that he “will never be a disgrace” to his father and his older brother any longer (cf. ibid. 41).

The Caribbean climate and landscape, the foreign black people as well as his young Creole wife overwhelm Edward with impressions because “[e]verything is too much” (ibid. 41) for him and he feels out of control in this new situation (cf. Emery 168, cf. Fayad 231 ff.). According to Michael Thorpe, Edward is a rather uncertain young man who perhaps is “emotionally crippled” and whose “inferior position in his family, his exile from what is familiar, the fever he is plunged into on his arrival in Jamaica [...] all leave him groping for some sure ground for self” (179, cf. also Ramchand 185).

Thus, “he is sceptical of life’s promises and, like Antoinette, of ‘happiness’” (ibid., cf. Rhys WSS 43). Consequently, Edward states after his arrival in the honeymoon house that “[a]s for my confused impressions they will never be written. These are blanks in my mind that cannot be filled up” (Rhys, ibid. 45).

By Edward’s accounts at the beginning of his narration, the reader quickly gets the impression that the young man “feels he has been tricked” into his marriage (cf. Emery 168) and that his accounts try to reveal why and how, after some time, he attempts to break free from his marriage and regain control over himself and the situation (cf. Fayad 232). It can be maintained that Edward’s feeling of being tricked and deprived of his control is based on his “values and norms” as an Englishman. As such, he has grown up in a patriarchic system in which society is ordered according to the demands of masculine authority.

On the island, Edward is not able to establish or live according to the patriarchic order of the male-centred society he is used to, and he is not willing to assimilate to the place and the people, whom he sees in a stereotypical way, either. For example, the black people appear childish and savage to Edward because they, for example, do not know how old they are, and concerning Christophine the young man mentions that he considers her lazy (cf. Rhys, WSS 40 and 51, cf. Thorpe 180). Besides the unfamiliarity with black people, Edward feels “threatened by the ‘wild’ nature of the place” (cf. Fayad 231/231, cf. e.g. Rhys, WSS 41). In this respect, he probably does not like that Antoinette and Christophine give him advice to help him to accommodate in the alien climate and surroundings.

[...]


[1] Antoinette’s husband is unnamed in the novel, but in literary criticism he is often referred to by his surname, Rochester. In this paper, he will be called by his first name just like Antoinette to indicate that both character/narrator perspectives are given equal attention in the analyses and that no distinctions of any kind are made.

[2] “A woman who practices obeah as a secret profession and has paying clients. Obeah is a system of beliefs and practices, African in origin, through which a practitioner works to gain for her/his client success, money, love, cures for illnesses, and protection, as well as cause trouble for the client’s enemies.” (cf. Rhys, WSS 17, footnote 1; also cf. Rhys, Smile Please 15-16, 23). Thus, obeah is a “system of beliefs grounded in spirituality and acknowledgement of the supernatural and involving aspects of witchcraft, sorcery, magic, spells, and healing” (Frye 198). As a secret African religion it “survived the period of slavery in spite of the colonizer’s prohibition that the slaves practice any religion from which they draw for empowerment. It is traditionally represented as a source of resistance that assisted in slave rebellions and inspired fear and awe among believers” (Mardorossian 1078).

[3] In addition, the character Daniel Cosway talks as well, mostly through his letters; a book extract and the letter of the Spanish town magistrate Mr Fraser also stand for further voices or perspectives. In fact, Rhys’s multiperspectival novel has “a narrative structure resembling a montage or collage, in which observations of the characters are replaced or supplemented by other types of texts, such as letters or [which is here not the case] newspaper articles” (Neumann/Nünning 102). As this paper focuses on the representation of Christophine by Antoinette and Edward, these further viewpoints will also be mentioned, but they will not be analysed as thoroughly.

[4] As Antoinette and Edward are both narrators and characters in their narratives, it is not only the “character perspective”, but also the „narrator perspective“ which plays a role in the analysis. The term “narrator perspective”, however, “does not refer to the narrative transmission, but to the impressions formed by the recipient concerning the personality of the narrator on the basis of information contained in the text” which will also be included in the analysis (Neumann/Nünning 58).

[5] Antoinette’s mother Annette as well as her servant Christophine Dubois (and, as the name indicates, also Christophine’s friend Maillotte, cf. Halloran 100) are from the French colony of Martinique whereas Jamaica was an English colony (in 1839). As Raiskin elucidates “France and England were political, cultural, and religious rivals both in Europe and the Caribbean” (Rhys, footnote 2, page 9). Furthermore, the economic situation after the Emancipation Act probably has led to a more competitive behaviour among the class of the former slave-owners. Having lost their source of income which has laid in the work power of their slaves, they needed to find other ways of living (later by the use of indentured labourers from India etc.) and had to struggle for themselves. Also, according to Hall, there “is a profound difference of culture and history” in Jamaica and Martinique (396). Thus, in relation to the other white people in Jamaica, Annette Cosway and her children Antoinette and Pierre occupy the position of outsiders.

[6] Antoinette’s “values and norms” will be analysed further at the end of this chapter.

[7] After Emancipation, “[t]he superiority of the white population was maintained but was now being challenged because their economic power was no longer evident” (Dash 203).

[8] Thus, it can be inferred that Tia, who because of her non-Jamaican background does not really belong to the native black Jamaicans, has decided to change sides and rather associate with them as she considers them “better”, and sees closer relations between herself and the black Jamaicans than between herself and the white, marooned Antoinette.

[9] However, these stereotypes do not mean that Antoinette thinks negatively about black people in general. Her attachment to Christophine and also to Tia show how much she associates herself with black Creoles. During her honeymoon she additionally tries to make her English husband understand some of the Caribbean/black customs. For example, she says that it is for respect that Christophine drags her dress, or that the black woman seems to be slow but, in fact, works very effectively and therewith quickly (cf. Rhys 50-51).

[10] There are possible options for Antoinette which are suggested by Christophine, but which Antoinette does not make use of (cf. chapter 5.1).

[11] This becomes apparent through the description of her red Caribbean dress and her dream about setting Thornfield Hall on fire (cf. Drake 197 ff., cf. Harris 189). For Antoinette, her red dress is the only “real” item that is left from the West Indies and it still has the scent of Caribbean flowers and carries the memories about her life there (cf. Rhys, WSS 109-110). She is afraid that “they had changed it” (ibid. 110) so that her memories would be destroyed, and even her own self, because she is sure that by wearing that Caribbean dress her stepbrother “Richard would have known me” (ibid.). This reflects that Antoinette now definitely wants to be identified with the Caribbean. The red colour of the dress reminds her of “fire” and something she “must do” (ibid. 111). In calling Christophine and possibly her obeah for help, she uses the power a fire - which is also a symbol for the Caribbean and an important force of creation (cf. Harris 189) - to destroy Edward’s house and therewith probably also the “Englishness” she had craved for herself so much before. In lighting the fire and in reminiscing about her Caribbean past she accomplishes to (re-)create her own Caribbean self and to find her freedom. Cf. also chapter 5.3.

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Details

Title
The Effects of Multiperspectival Narration on the Representation of Christophine in 'Wide Sargasso Sea'
College
University of Wuppertal
Grade
1,3
Author
Year
2010
Pages
39
Catalog Number
V176870
ISBN (eBook)
9783640982684
ISBN (Book)
9783640982714
File size
808 KB
Language
English
Notes
Die Arbeit enthält einen Anhang mit einem ausgearbeiteten Kommunikationsmodell der Protagonisten in Wide Sargasso Sea.
Tags
Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys, Multiperspectivity, Multiperspectival, Narration, Christophine, Post-Colonial, Caribbean, Literature
Quote paper
Christina Gieseler (Author), 2010, The Effects of Multiperspectival Narration on the Representation of Christophine in 'Wide Sargasso Sea', Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/176870

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