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Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys

Part Two, Section Five

Part Two, Section Four

Part Two, Section Six

Summary

Rochester receives a second letter from Daniel Cosway, ordering him to come visit at once. Annoyed, Rochester questions Amelie about Daniel's intentions. Amelie says, in Daniel's defense, that "he lives like white people" and that he reads the Bible. A moment later, however, she contradicts herself, saying that Daniel is "a bad man" who should never visit Granbois; instead, she urges Rochester to visit Daniel in his home in Massacre.

Rochester visits Daniel in his sweltering one-room home. With little introduction, Daniel launches into his life's story. He describes his dead white father, Alexander Cosway, as a despicable philanderer who cruelly rejected him. When Daniel approached Cosway at sixteen, Cosway denied his paternity, calling Daniel's mother a "sly-boots" and Daniel a money-grubber, even throwing an inkstand at him. This encounter was Daniel's last with his father.

Daniel then assures Rochester that Rochester has been duped, that he has trusted all of the wrong people. Daniel claims that Christophine is the most deceitful of all, as a master of obeah magic. Numbed by these revelations, Rochester prepares to leave when Daniel mentions Sandi, the son of his half- brother, Alexander. Daniel insinuates that Antoinette began sleeping with Sandi as a young girl and. When Rochester moves to the door, Daniel asks for him for a bribe. For £500, Daniel will keep these damaging reports to himself. When Rochester makes no move to pay him, Daniel threatens to spread the word concerning Antoinette's sexual past. Emerging into the bright daylight, Rochester mounts his horse and quickly rides away.

Analysis

As with Antoinette's visit to Christophine, Rochester's visit to Daniel marks a reversal of the racially dictated power structure: the white Creole and English colonial seek help from the less privileged. In Daniel's home, Rochester has no choice but to listen to Daniel, whereas at Granbois, Rochester can exercise complete patriarchal control, ignoring whomever he pleases, including his wife. Before he visits Daniel, Rochester must first swallow his pride and admit his own doubts and vulnerability. Unlike Antoinette, who eagerly visits Christophine's home in search of comfort and wisdom away from Granbois, Rochester must be threatened into visiting Daniel. He is loath to lend credence to an uneducated islander, a mixed-race Creole.

Unlike Antoinette, Rochester fails to intuit danger around him. When Antoinette sees a cock crowing outside Christophine's house, she immediately wonders if her old nurse can be trusted. Antoinette recognizes that the animal is a sign, thinking, "That is for betrayal." Rochester, on the other hand, does not look for symbols in the natural landscape; as an outsider, he fails to correctly read the language of the West Indies. When he leaves Daniel's house, Rochester, too, encounters an animal, a black and white goat with "slanting yellow-green eyes." However, he does not recognize the animal's symbolic value as a representation of Daniel's mixed race and contrary nature.

Most of Daniel's actions revolve around money, including his relationship to women. Just as Christophine avoids marriage in order to keep her money to herself, Daniel remains single. He aims to remain financially independent, as he explains, "I don't have to please no woman. Buy me this and buy me that—demons incarnate in my opinion." Yet, moments later, Daniel himself adopts a subservient, stereotypically female role when he asks Rochester for money in exchange for his own discretion; money perverts even Daniel's gender role. Indeed, most of the interaction in Rhys's novel appears money-driven: Rochester and Mason marry for financial reasons, just as Christophine and Daniel shun marriage for financial reasons. Having brought their voracious appetite for wealth to the West Indies, the whites infect the islands with a disease that afflicts everyone from Tia to Daniel to Rochester. Like Tia's friendship, Daniel's advice and loyalty has a price. Money taints most characters' motives involving marriage, friendship, and family relations.

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Context

by buckindisguise, March 01, 2014

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

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