IOP - Antoinettes struggle for sense of identity throughout...

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Antoinette’s struggle for sense of identity throughout her lifetime in “Wide Sargasso Sea” In this reinterpretation of Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre”, Jean Rhys explores the theme of identity through the narration of “the mad woman in the attic”, Bertha Mason, called Antoinette Cosway in Wide Sargasso Sea. Antoinette struggles throughout her lifetime to find a sense of identity in a society for her Creole heritage and she never belonged to any norm. She is an exile throughout her childhood within her own family, specifically from her mother, a “white cockroach” to her servants and a mad wife to her husband. I will be analyzing Rhys use of diction, allusion, imagery, tone, syntax and style to support this claim. Even in her childhood years in Coulibri, Antoinette and her mother are pariahs in the Jamaican society. People disapprove Annette for she is too young and pretty for her husband and she comes from a different racial background. Antoinette first struggles to find her sense of identity when Tia comments her for not being like “real white people”. “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.” (22) Tia comments on Antoinette’s heritage after Tia took away her clothes. Because Antoinette is still a child and her memories are fragmented, Rhys has used simple words and sentence structure in this quote. Allusions, symbolisms and vivid imageries are not apparent in this quote yet. However, a reference to the capital “gold money” is made in order to convey what “real white people” have and it is the “gold money” that separates the Creoles and the whites. Overall, the tone of the quote appears to be negative for Rhys is expressing what Antoinette feels to have her sense of identity weakened. Antoinette is not accepted by blacks or whites in this Jamaican society, thus she feels great shame- “She is ashamed of me, what Tia said is true.” (24) Antoinette is not only rejected by society but also by her mother. Antoinette spends most of her childhood exploring Coulibri Estate and her mother spends time going out on a horse and returning home late. Annette doesn’t spend time with her daughter, play with her or care for her. Rhys has included little details or fragments of memories of Antoinette’s childhood with her mother. Even after the fire at Coulibri, Annette does not take care of her injured daughter. Moreover, when Antoinette visits her mother
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IOP - Antoinettes struggle for sense of identity throughout...

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