Wide Sargasso sea: Changing ways

Essay by amberlambachCollege, UndergraduateB, April 2004

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Changing Ways

Jean Rhys wrote Wide Sargasso Sea between 1945 and 1966. Critic Elizabeth Nunez-Harrell writes in "The Paradoxes of Belonging: The White West Indian Women In Fiction", that "the novel is a response to the nationalistic mood in the West Indies of the late 1950's and 1960's"(35). Rhys shows in an uneasy time when racial relations in the Caribbean were at their most strained, it represented a space occupied by so many empires and so many people in contention with one another which characterized the region as "One grand theater of recurring warfare, declared and undeclared" (Genovese 21).

Antoinette is descended from the plantation owners, and her father has had many children by negro women. She can be accepted neither by the negro community nor by the representatives of the colonial centre. As a white creole she is nothing. The taint of racial impurity, coupled with the suspicion that she is mentally imbalanced bring about her inevitable downfall.

Rhys raises issues such as the problems of colonization, gender relations and racial issues. She explores the themes of displacement, Creolisation and miscegenation.

In Rhys attempted to preserve and legitimize Caribbean culture she illustrates such things as a large influx of West Indian immigrants into England, and the relations between whites and blacks which were often tense, erupting sometimes into violence.

Lambach 2

For example; in part one when the slaves decided to burn down the house because Antoinette's step-father was going to import slaves from the Indies. "The house was burning, the yellow-red sky was like sunset and I knew that I would never see Coulibri again"(27). Antoinette associates this with us as she described her last moments before she realizes the social placement she has been born into. Nothing is ever said for sure but Rhys lets us use...