November 17 2010
Race and Caribbean Culture
Sandra Drake addresses three issues in her excerpt “Race and Caribbean Culture as Thematic of Liberation in Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea”. First we have the effects of the abolishment of slavery on the ex-slave owners and the Afro-Caribbean ex-slaves. Second we see the loss of identity that Antoinette had as she struggle to fit in the Caribbean culture and the English culture as well. At last, Drake turns her attention into the social tension that increasingly grows on Wide Sargasso Sea.
The unexpected abolishment of slavery left Antoinette’s family in a bad social and economic situation. Her mother’s marriage and her own seem to be the only viable solution for their problems. Somewhat helpful but Antoinette still had to “struggle against the survival of the Caribbean and European patriarchy and empire” (Drake 195). The European colonialism and patriarchy on Antoinette is a mirroring image of what European Colonialism did to the Afro-Caribbean people. In her struggle to find an identity she became a “zombie”, a “ghost”, according to the ex-slaves or an “Antoinette-marionette”, according to Rochester (Drake 200). Her dependence on others, specifically, Rochester lead to her “real death” eventually by his English like suppression of her; just as the colonizers did to the Afro-Caribbean people. His inevitable English controlling personality is parallel to the subjugation of Coco by her English stepfather when he clipped his wings; which became a foreshadowing of her fate.
In her pursuit for an identity “she betrays herself”, as she fervently tries to fit into the English culture by means of the Caribbean obeahs. Paying Christophine reflects her “denial of belonging to the Caribbean culture but rather wants to use the spell to complete her assimilation to England and to whiteness” (198), and a cock crew as a signal of betrayal. Ironically later on...
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