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Well...I Don't Know About That

"By her act of narration, she retains her tenuous fragile hold on sanity, on life itself, since to narrate is to live, to order a life, to 'make sense' out of it. If 'narrative is a strategy for survival' (Marlatt, How Hug a Stone, p. 75), Antoinette survives only as long as she creates narratives."
~"And it Kept its Secret": Narration, Memory, and Madness in Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea by Kathy Mezei, page 197.

I can see where this is coming from, but I'm not sure that I fully buy this. My original understanding of this line was at least disproved, for that made even less sense. Based on my current understanding of this and the rest of the essay, I guess the main idea is that Antoinette is narrating all of these past events in the present time--for her. The author claims that it is the fact that part 3 is so much more disjointed than part 1 that helps us to see how far she is deteriorating. I have to say, though, that this would only make sense under two conditions: 1) she narrates part 1 long before she narrates part 2, or 2) she deteriorates incredibly fast--even her few moments of narration in part 2 are fairly lucid. The other thing I find that doesn't fully add up is that if narrating helps to hold her together, why does she deteriorate? The only possible solution to this that I can come up with is the fact that she doesn't narrate much in part 2, and this break takes its toll on her.

Any thoughts?


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Comments (2)

I think maybe Antoinette did lose it rather quickly, as Rochester's attitude towards her changed abruptly.

I think what the author was really getting at was that the reader observes her descent into madness not through actions, but by the coherency (or lack thereof) of Antoinette's narration. When the narrative becomes muddled towards the end, it is because Antoinette is very far gone. The book was being narrated in her head, but her mind was virtually destroyed. I have a theory, though: perhaps there never was any break in the narration. Maybe Antoinette was narrating part one at the same time Rochester was narrating part two.

Kevin Hinton:

I agree with you Jen. It kind of reminds me of the yello wallpaper...since Antonette is narrating do with think that something is wrong with her.

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