Religious symbols and imagery also dominate the novel's opening passages. Godfrey constantly speaks about a Lord who makes no distinction between blacks and whites. Remembering the garden, Antoinette compares it to the Garden of Eden in the Bible. Like Eden, Antoinette's garden is a symbol of corrupted innocence: it has given itself over to wildness and a savage overgrowth that marks the entire estate. It is in this atmosphere of impurity and decay that Antoinette and her mother become increasingly isolated and misanthropic.

Antoinette and her mother are complete outsiders in their community, not unlike Christophine. Like Christophine, Annette is a foreigner in Jamaica, having lived in Martinique; she wears the French Caribbean fashions that other Jamaican women avoid. Antoinette feels as estranged as her mother when others call her a "white cockroach" and when Tia accuses her and her family of not being like "real white people." Accepted by neither white nor black society, Antoinette feels great shame.