Skip over navigation

Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys

Part Three, Section Two

Part Three, Section One

Part Three, Section Two, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary

One morning, Antoinette awakes with her body mysteriously aching and her wrists red and swollen. She has no memory of what happened. Grace tells Antoinette that her brother came to visit her the night before, and she scolds Antoinette for misbehaving. At first, Antoinette cannot think of who her brother is, but she then realizes Grace must mean her stepbrother, Richard Mason. Antoinette begins frantically searching for a letter that she wrote to Richard and then hid, in which she begged him to rescue her from her garret prison.

According to Grace, Richard did not recognize Antoinette when he came into the room. Almost immediately, Antoinette rushed at him with a knife, and she later bit him. Antoinette had secretly bought the knife the day before, when she had been allowed outside. Seeing trees and grass all around her, she had thought she had finally arrived in England, not understanding that she has been in England all along. When Grace fell asleep under a tree, Antoinette traded her locket for a knife.

Grace says that she warned Richard not to visit, but that he insisted. She overheard Richard saying, "I cannot interfere legally between yourself and your husband," at which point Antoinette flew at him with the knife. After the attack, Richard fainted. Antoinette begins to remember the look of shock on her brother's face when he first saw her. She insists that her brother would have recognized her had she been wearing her red dress from Jamaica, which hangs from the closet.

Suddenly pitying Antoinette, Grace asks her if she knows how long she has been held captive. Antoinette responds that time is not important. She gazes instead at her red dress and imagines she smells a bouquet of natural scents. She remembers wearing the red dress the last time she saw her cousin, Sandi, who visited her when the disapproving Mr. Mason was away. On Sandi's last visit, they kissed, which Antoinette remembers as "the life and death kiss."

That night, Antoinette dreams for the third time that she steals the keys from Grace, unlocks the door, and enters the passage to the rest of the house, carrying candles. In the dream, she goes downstairs and enters a red room that reminds her of a church. When she lights all her candles, she thinks of Aunt Cora's house and becomes suddenly angry, knocking a candle into the drapes.

Soon, in the dream, there is a wall of flames behind her. Moving away from the flames and the sounds of yelling, Antoinette goes back upstairs and out to the battlements, where she watches the red sky and sees fragments of her life pass before her. She dreams she hears Rochester crying the name "Bertha"; looking to the ground, imagines the bathing pool at Coulibri. She sees Tia taunting her from the ground and coaxing her to jump. As Antoinette is about to jump, she wakes, screaming, from her dream. Feeling that she must enact the dream, she steals Grace's keys and heads down the passage with a candle in her hand.

More Help

Previous Next
Context

by buckindisguise, March 01, 2014

'Dominica' is a Leeward Island of the Caribbean, not Windward.

Follow Us