Essay about Divisions Between Women in Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea

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Divisions between Women in Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea

In Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, a sea of “differences” engulfs the women, stirring up prejudice and animosity. Instead of perceiving how much they are alike, these women allow the water to destroy the bridges between them. They are envious of each other’s wealth, leery of each other’s premature aging, and unforgiving towards those who do not “belong” to their ethnic groups. Differences in economics, age, and nationality among the women cause misunderstandings and divisions between them.

An economic hierarchy towers above the lush gardens and sparkling waters in the poverty-stricken West Indies. As Tia says to Antoinette: “Old time white people nothing but white
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There is no sympathy among the “black” women, however, and Antoinette is correct in stating: “The black people did not hate us quite so much when we were poor. We were white but we had not escaped and soon we would be dead for we had no money left. What was there to hate?” (29) Annette, too, is frightened of the family’s new wealth. Poverty is something to be laughed at, but wealth is enviable. She knows that the “black” people “can be dangerous and cruel for reasons [Mr Mason] wouldn’t understand”(28). Indeed, Tia’s eyes grow large when she sees Antoinette’s pennies and abandons all disguises of friendship to steal them through cunning. Christophine also cunningly gets the girls from the bayside to help with chores without paying them. Every penny matters in the West Indies and the “black” women are willing to sacrifice trust and friendship for monetary gain. When Antoinette speaks of England, one of Christophine’s main concerns is the theft of money there: “You have money in your pocket, you look again and bam! No money. Why you want to go to this cold thief place?”(92-93). Antoinette, like her mother Annette, is not concerned with money. She is more concerned about happiness apart from material goods: “But how can [Christophine] know the best thing for me to do, this ignorant, obstinate old negro woman, who is not certain if there is such a place
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