Tone and Atmosphere in Wide Sargasso Sea

892 Words4 Pages
In Jean Rhys’ novel Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys commences the story with a very melancholic tone. By portraying the harsh circumstances under which the Cosway family lives, Rhys establishes a very hopeless tone from the start. The unusual and tense mother and daughter relationship between Antoinette and her mother also portrays discord and strengthens Rhys’ depiction of a very sad and glum atmosphere. The use of a variety of narrative techniques such as harsh imagery enables Rhys to effectively depict the ominous theme of death and pain in this novel and the depressing atmosphere which carries on throughout the novel. Within the first couple of sentences of the novel, Rhys harshly portrays the difficult circumstances in which Antoinette and her family live. The sentence “But we were not in their ranks.” concisely evinces a very melancholic tone to the story by expressing how Antoinette and her mother do not seem to belong in their home. Rhys proceeds to evince a strong image of racial discrimination through the sentence “She was my father’s second wife, far too young for him they thought, and, worse still, a Martinique girl. By portraying the Jamaican ladies’ negligence of other minor races, the reader feels sympathy for both Antoinette and her mother and Rhys expresses a very ruthless environment the two live in. Antoinette has to endure insults such as “Go away white cockroach” which further compounds the unforgiving nature of the Negros where she lives. Antoinette faces the brunt of the racial discrimination the most as her mother seems to favour Pierre, Antoinette’s younger brother, over her. During the beginning of the novel, Antoinette has a terrible nightmare and awakes crying loudly. Instead of offering appropriate consolation to her child, Antoinette’s mother sighs and says, “You were making such a noise. I must go to Pierre, you’ve frightened him.”
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