no right to that name,' she said quickly. 'His real name, if he
has one, is Daniel Boyd. He hates all white people, but he hates
me the most. He tells lies about us and he is sure that you will
believe him and not listen to the other side.'
'Is there another side?' I said.
'There is always the other side, always.'
When Rochester approaches his wife with
Daniel Cosway's sensational reports, Antoinette attempts to plead
her case, arguing that she and her family have been unfairly persecuted
and unjustly defamed. She responds to Rochester's unflattering insinuations
by debunking Daniel's dubious credibility and exposing his ulterior motivations.
Urging her husband to weigh the evidence with objective fairness,
Antoinette points to Daniel's half-caste status and illegitimate
birth as cause for his venomous accusations. Claiming that her half-brother
has "no right to that name," Antoinette raises the important issue
of naming and identity—an issue that pervades her story and spells
out her tragedy. As Antoinette seeks to define herself, to find
her "real name," she discovers that she is, in a sense, nameless—a
girl whose mother rejects her and whose peers deride her. In the
convent, the young Antoinette was preoccupied with the appearance
of her own name and sought to make herself visible when she stitched
on a cloth, "Antoinette Mason, nee Cosway." Given by men, her father
and stepfather, Antoinette's names signal patriarchy and a changing
of hands. As she searches for her own "real name," Antoinette suffers
the indignity of others' naming: she is called, in turn, "the white
cockroach," "Bertha," and "Marionette."
Confronted with Rochester's accusations, Antoinette reminds him
to consider "the other side," asking him to listen to her own story,
though he refuses. She offers to tell Rochester the truth about her
mother, but he clings obstinately to Daniel's exaggerated tales and
to the belief that he has been intentionally deceived. When Antoinette
assures her husband that there is always another side, she speaks
to the very cause of Rhys's feminist and postcolonial rewriting.
As a book that adopts the perspective of a marginalized and exoticized
literary figure, Wide Sargasso Sea promotes an awareness
of other versions.