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Wide Sargasso Sea | Quotes

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1.

They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.


Antoinette Cosway, Part 1 (The Burning of Coulibri)

The slaves have been freed and things are changing in Jamaica. In times of great change people cling to what they know. Antoinette and her family, who are Creole, a mixture of races, are not accepted by the white society. Because the family owned slaves, neither are they part of the black community. This leads to Antoinette's crisis of identity and belonging.

2.

The Lord make no distinction between black and white. Black and white the same for Him.


Godfrey, Part 1 (The Burning of Coulibri)

Godfrey, a black servant who works for Antoinette's family, sees the world from a religious perspective. While God sees all people in the same light, this is not the case in 1830s Jamaica. The people are very aware of color and the tension among them is very high.

3.

We stared at each other ... It was as if I saw myself. Like in a looking-glass.


Antoinette Cosway, Part 1 (The Burning of Coulibri)

Just after Tia hits Antoinette with a rock, young Antoinette reflects how Tia, a black girl, and she are in different races and classes. Their friendship cannot survive the troubled times; Antoinette is entering the white world and leaving the black one behind.

4.

You must not concern yourself with that mystery ... The devil must have his little day.


Sister Marie Augustine, Part 1 (Antoinette's Schooling)

Antoinette has recently learned of her mother's death. During this time, the girl is studying in a convent school. Her family is absent, and she has no one besides the nuns and her classmates. She shares with one of the nuns a dream she had of her mother. While Sister Mary Augustine intends to comfort Antoinette with these words, she offers little solace. As with most of her other emotional experiences, Antoinette is left to grieve and cope on her own.

5.

Have all beautiful things sad destinies?


Rochester, Part 2 (Sexual Longing)

Antoinette is trying to explain the customs of the area to Rochester. He seems curious yet a bit confused and also aloof. He touches a rose whose petals fall—the flower is dying. While Rochester is referring to the rose, his statement foreshadows the fall of Antoinette. Like the rose Antoinette falls because of Rochester's touch and actions. He does not understand her needs nor recognize how fragile she is.

6.

These people are very vulnerable. How old was I when I learned to hide how I felt?


Rochester, Part 2 (Sexual Longing)

Rochester is not comfortable in Jamaica and with Jamaicans. His British background has taught him to be stoic and keep his emotions in check and to himself. He looks down on the Jamaicans and sees them as immature, simple, and unsavory. His inability to appreciate the differences between the cultures leads to his mistrust and disapproval of the people around him, including Antoinette.

7.

How can one discover the truth ... No one would tell me the truth.


Rochester, Part 2 (The Letter)

From the beginning of the marriage, Rochester questions his decision. Like Antoinette he feels abandoned by his family and is left to his own devices. In addition he does not understand the people or the culture of Jamaica and is left by himself. Rochester has no one to talk to whom he genuinely trusts and is unsure of what he has gotten himself into. His lack of faith in his wife foreshadows a poor end for the couple.

8.

There are always two deaths, the real one and the one people know about.


Antoinette Cosway, Part 2 (Rochester's Rejection of Antoinette)

Antoinette is sharing the details about her mother's life and death with Rochester. At this point Rochester does not trust Antoinette and feels he has caught her in a lie. Antoinette explains that while her mother died on a specific day, a part of her died when Pierre was killed in the fire. After Pierre's death Annette goes mad and she never recovers.

9.

There is always the other side, always.


Antoinette Cosway, Part 2 (Rochester's Rejection of Antoinette)

Rochester is sure he has gotten the truth from Daniel Cosway, Antoinette's half-brother. He has slandered her character greatly, and Rochester confronts Antoinette with these accusations. She pleads with him to hear her out and to recognize there are always two sides to a story. Like the book itself and the two hemispheres it describes, the reader hears both Rochester's and Antoinette's perspectives and is left to discern which is true.

10.

She'll have no lover, for I don't want her and she'll see no other.


Rochester, Part 2 (Poor Me)

When Rochester says he is taking Antoinette to England, Christophine argues with him. She pleads with Rochester to leave Antoinette in Jamaica where she is familiar with her surrounding and she can heal from her broken marriage. Ultimately Christophine believes Antoinette will find another man to love. Rochester insists she will have no one else. He believes it is his responsibility to care for her, yet his words come off as vindictive and petty.

11.

Only the magic and the dream are true – all the rest's a lie.


Rochester, Part 2 (Leaving Jamaica)

For a moment Rochester reconsiders Antoinette. He thinks maybe he has misjudged her and the circumstances. Perhaps they could be happy and love each other. He misses the few moments of bliss they shared. While he still does not understand her or the setting around him, Rochester wants to have Antoinette again. The moment is fleeting, however, and ultimately he again feels hate and believes he was tricked into marrying her.

12.

There is no looking glass here and I don't know what I am like now.


Antoinette Cosway, Part 3 (Grace's Watch)

Antoinette is locked in the attic with Grace Poole. She has lost all sense of self and everything is confused. Her isolation has caused her to lose track of time and place and her past. She exists in the moment with only fleeting and confused recollections of the past.

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