Feminism in Post Colonial Period in the Backdrop of Clash of Cultures


The discussion in the paper is regarding the meaning of Jean Rhys in a post-colonial climate in the light of Spivak’s theory about feminism. The double oppression of race and gender of Creole and third world women are discussed in the light of imperialism and the sexual difference of Spivak. The aspect of imperialism and its effect on Creole and third world women and their interactions with British men in the post-colonial period finds a place in analysis. The failures of women to obtain identity and equality are considered and analyzed accordingly. Moreover, the role of family relations in the cultural differences that exist in the post-colonial period for Creole and third world women are discussed. Totally, the experiences of Creole and third world women are viewed from the angle of Rhys and her heroines and are analyzed in the backdrop of Spivak’s theory, cultural differences, and the importance of family relationships.

Feminism in the post-colonial Period in the Backdrop of Clash of Cultures

Jean Rhys feminism arises from her observation about disinterest in women of her time and the consequent unbearable isolation in a woman’s life. She estimated that the disinterest shown by women to sustain their lives in the post-colonial period may result in isolation in the latter part of their life. Moreover, the separation between white and black women was also a point of concern in her feminist writing. It can be understood from the fact that she was happy seeing white and black women acting together without any differences in Catholic Church. The rituals in the Catholic Church as well as the The above-mentioned type of feminism dominated the feminist writings of Jean Rhys in her future life. Moreover, her school life taught her that European Immigrant Women do not accept Creole Women as their equals and that aspect made her view feministic in that direction. The above aspect enabled her to think about the exploitations of men as well as fellow women who are European immigrants in colonies.

Her feminist view mixed with the cultural differences between European, Caribbean, and other third world countries, has taken an emotional turn when her first love, an English man settled the affair with her by agreeing to pay a monthly allowance for a lifetime. The important cause for Feminism dominating her literary works is the relationship with men in adult life as well as her experiences with classmates in her childhood. Her first love deserted her due to her Creole background and her second love and first husband ended marriage due to her alleged affair with Ford Madox Ford. As her career as a writer was launched after the above-mentioned happenings, naturally she was emotional as well as analytical about Women’s experiences with men and their exploitation. In addition to that, the unequal treatment of Immigrants and colonial women influenced her thought in writing. Hence, her writings are filled with exile, disassociation, and dominated by alienation themes as she has experienced enough of them in her life due to fellow girls and women in her childhood as well as in her adolescent life.1

Women Their Importance and Feminism

Feminism is regarding women, but Jean Rhys being a Creole woman can better understand the diversified problems faced by women in the colonial and the post-colonial period, as she knows the situation in both scenarios. Rhys being a white writer born in the Caribbean and educated in England can understand the women’s problems as well as the problem of discrimination for being a Creole. Though Jean Rhys spent a large part of her life in the United Kingdom, she understood the problems of discrimination as she faced them in hands of her first love and her classmates. Though both men and women face problems due to discrimination, they are different when gender is considered; for example, the situation Rhys faced from her first love can be more pathetic for a woman than a man. Hence, it can be termed that, Rhys is a writer, who can best describe the problems of Creole women as well as other women. Rhys has described the problems of women as well as male dominance. This is because; she suffered in life and career due to male dominance in one or another way.

She faced the wrath of discrimination, being a Creole in her first experience with a man, and the experience with her husband provided evidence about the male dominance that cannot tolerate women being independent in husband’s absence. Though Rhys faced several problems with her husband to keep him away from police and jail, he did not care for the compulsions and affairs of Rhys in his absence. It can be termed as an example of male dominance that makes women being dependent on men, even though they have enough financial stability and merit. In the days of Rhys, there is no shaping of tradition as it took shape after 1950. However, she expressed enough of it in ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ as it has been published after 1960 the period, which witnessed the shaping of a tradition for women. In the above context, Hoving Isabel (2001) points out that Rhys has anticipated the rise of African-American feminist novels in the United States in ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ (Page 5). As Rhys witnessed a young girl’s departure from the Caribbean to England, she has enough experience to criticize colonialism in the wake of a feministic attitude. Totally, Rhys echoed the view of Creole women who are not having enough opportunities to be competitive in the post-colonial period as they do not have access to the outer world. If they have that access, the situation did not give them enough opportunities or equal treatment at par with men (Hoving, Isabel, page 4-6). 2

Spivak’s Theory

While talking about equal opportunities mixed with Feminism in the contexts of discrimination and non-discrimination as well as the plight of third world women in the post-colonial period, the consciousness regarding non-identity is important as it avoids reduction of feminism being just a principle. According to Varadarajan, Asha (1995), Spivak’s critique is better than Adorno’s formulations as the former has encapsulated her complicated and precious arguments and explored the possibility of simple phrases being the scope of her critic. Varadarajan, Asha (1995) quotes Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, who brought to the fore, global connections in feminism while discussing transnational capitalism and women (page 105).

However, Spivak’s theory neglected the crucial relationship between lifestyle and the main body of feminism. However, she strengthened the arguments and confirmed surmises according to analysis. In contrast to that, Adorno opines that philosophy is not expandable. In the light of Spivak’s theory, it is not possible as she termed her works as interventions. As a result, Spivak’s essays privileged the position of ‘gadfly’ and stirred the situation outside the trouble. However, in the above-mentioned cases, lucidity is absent thus resulting in a collapse of representation, which confuses. As Adorno terms the truth as objective, Spivak’s theory that adopts a theoretical model of ‘Imperialism and Sexual Difference’ talks about future truths that are plausible due to the changes adopted in present. As a result, she talks about ‘politically interested figuration’, which indicates that the political interests are capable of bringing changes in women’s life as well as feminism. As feminism results in tropological deconstruction, in the context of the woman being produced concerning the truth of man, its attempt to establish the recognition faces confrontation, with existing rules as well as the people.

As Spivak talks about the troping error discovered by feminists, she talks about the blindness of truth-telling that demands the support of the society for feminist attitudes expressed by Jean Rhys. The above aspect is because the blindness in truth-telling is a consequence of ignoring the deconstruction of feministic activities. As the blindness to truth-telling can even ignore the deconstruction, it is possible to attain the recognition only by strategic exclusions. Moreover, the strategic exclusions that declare opposition, where there is complicity may result again in deconstruction and hence, Spivak’s theory of future plausible truth holds good to frame a feministic attitude according to the accepted norms of the society. The above process leads to changes in future society and that may result in recognition for women with time. In the above context, Adorno and Spivak agree that clarity and action are necessary for philosophy. However, both of them refuse to authorize the exorcism of any concept; for example feminism in the present context.

As philosophy refuses to clutch any immediate thing, feminism also cannot have a speedy result or change in society regarding the recognition of women. Spivak accepts the confrontation of finding the truth and the unavailability of unified solutions if the truth is not acceptable. As the movement of difference is knowledge, though there is a unified solution its applicability arises only for the future generations as in the case of Jean Rhys as she and her generation are not able to realize the fruits of her feminist attitude. For example, Rhys’s mother’s condition is more pitiable than her daughter’s as Jean acted with more freedom than her mom has. Though Rhys works are according to her experiences of exile and male domination, the oppositional stance she took yet times may not work according to Spivak theory as all the people are not racial and all the men are not dominating (Varadharajan, Asha, Page 104-108).3

the post-colonial Feminism and Jean Rhys

While discussing racial discrimination and feminism, the Caribbean stand of Jean Rhys is significant while studying the problems of white Creole Women in Europe as well as the black women both on the lines of male domination and racial discrimination. Rhys’s literature talks about the relation between the Caribbean and Europe as well as the post-colonial feminist and Caribbean critical positions. Though political commentary is minimized in the writings of Rhys, analysts connected her to European modernism. Hence by adopting plurality and complexity, the reading of Rhys indicates that she describes the telling image of cultural relations shaped by the transatlantic slave trade. As Rhys’s career is a tale about the problems and dangers faced by a woman, she incorporated the post-colonial problems of white Creole women as well as black women in her writings.

The most important aspect of the relationship between the Caribbean and Europe as well as the feminist attitude in the novels gives a picture of the problems of women of third world countries in the post-colonial era. Moreover, the male emphasis on Rhys is transnational that ignores how gender emphasis informs the text of the content. Caribbean writer Naipaul identified Rhys as the writer alien to the metropolitan background, still being a part of the metropolis. The transnational nature of Rhys writings made the feministic view of her to have the right placement in literary stature thus depicting the position of women of third world countries in the post-colonial era as well as the possible future solutions for their problems. She emphasizes that as long as colonial, racial, and male domination exists, there is no way for the Creole and third world women in Europe to have an independent and peaceful life unless they are disinterested in independent activities. Though there is a lack of national placement in literature of Rhys, the important aspect in her writings is about the efforts of Creole to cope-up in the European the post-colonial society.

The conversation between genders, national, racial, and class positions resulted in the depiction of marginalization of women from third world countries in Europe. According to Savory, Eloine (1999), the writing style of Rhys helped the readers to fill the spaces according to their perspectives and that resulted in the search for solutions for their problems due to racial discrimination as well as male domination. The consciousness of inequalities of power between European Capital and Colonial society, Rhys explored the world through her writings in search of systems and solutions for women from third world countries to mingle in European societies in the post-colonial period. As it is technically possible, practically it enabled different women in various ways but did not propose a single method to overcome the problems of third world women in Europe. Rhys involves class politics in her feministic views. Hence the reader can think about the solutions for female problems in the framework of racial and class differences. As she faced problems as a chorus girl and fought loneliness and which made her enough experienced to write in her novels about the strategies that enable third-world women to compete with men as well as women in European countries. However, one aspect in Rhys’s work that is not useful is hatred towards the world due to the experience with Mr Mackenzie. Being frightened by his thoughts, the hatred expressed in her works is not useful for women to overcome the problems in the post-colonial period as the situation demands competition but not hatred or opposition to the norms and rules (Savory, Elaine, Pages 45-50). 4

Rhys and Prominence

The important aspect other than opposition to norms and rules as well as hatred towards the people like Mackenzie, Rhys gained prominence due to the Wide Sargasso Sea, as the international feminist movement was gaining ground at that time. Savory Elaine (1999) opines that Rhys created fiction out of her own experience and that will be useful for the women who face similar circumstances but may not be an advantage for the women who are facing different types of problems regarding males domination and racial discrimination (page 180).5

For example, Rhys being a white woman faced racial discrimination in her childhood and male domination as well as gender discrimination in her adulthood. However, the same may not be true in the situations faced by black women, regarding racial discrimination and male domination. Black women may face male domination from white men on their husbands as the racial discrimination was also considered in the works of Rhys. As Rhys life is engaged in various levels of disgusting transactions, it involved men and money in wrong ways. Hence, feminism cannot be mingled with the activities like that of Rhys and cannot be theorised according to the results she faced in her life. As she left her child in the care of Mackenzie for no reason, one cannot see it as a part of feminism. Savory Elaine (1999) quotes Arnold who talks about Rhys as a woman who desires money gifts as proof a man loves her as well as selling sexual favors (Savory, Elaine, page 82).6

This resulted in some of the feminists thinking that having sexual pleasure without any constraints like marriage is independence and thus they adopted the dirty qualities in males, which are not accepted even by some of the anti-feminists. Hence, in this context, the critics of Rhys want to differentiate between independent women and prostitutes as selling sexual pleasures is not feminism and just expecting money from men is not overcoming the male domination. Moreover, Rhys critics emphasize that the challenging conventions may be a part of feminist attitude but it is not the solution for the problems. When challenging a convention results in a solution, then it can be termed as a positive feministic attitude. However, the above types of expressions are termed bourgeois by Staley as the author defines the Rhys heroine as a suffocated and turned in by the wretched life.

Though Staley is right in his own sense of estimating the Rhys heroine, merely money gifts from men cannot be termed as overcoming the male domination. Hence, Rhys’s literature should have the right attitude of estimating male domination as well as overcoming it by viewing it from different perspectives. The above aspect holds good because, the feminist attitude needs to bring a positive social change, which overcomes male domination, and that should not result in female irresponsibility in sexual as well as money affairs. Thinking in the above context, Rhys’s works can be understood as the ones that are limited to West Indian identity women and may not be generalized to all the third world women in the post-colonial situation. However, there are some critics and feminists who discussed Rhys as a Caribbean emblem and in general. As the period of Rhys writings witnessed Northern feminism, the complex intersections of race and class with gender were often marginalized in favor of Universalist constructions of woman as mother, daughter, and wife. The role of the father also has been attributed to women in a universal feministic attitude and the above aspect is absent in Rhys’s works and experiences as she left her child with her estranged husband (Savory, Elaine, page 81-85).7

Pathology and Feministic attitude in Rhys Writings

While defining the role of mother, daughter, and father in a woman, it is difficult to understand Rhys in that manner. However, Rhys’s writings are center of emotional life as they are filled with object relations. Hence, after leaving Mr. Mackenzie, Rhys’s condition is a pathology conditioned by loss as she started investigating the inner world of the child whose mother is not available. Simpson Anne B. (2005) explains Rhys expression of herself in Julia Martin by making her wander across a ravaged landscape between Paris and London in irresolute internal states (Simpson Anne B, Page 56).

However, the important aspect that is found in Julia Martin like other heroines of Rhys is that she depends on male favor for her survival. However, the above-mentioned aspect is filled with a tragic background as Rhys’s heroines have personal problems that are solved only with the help of a monetary favor from the male. In this context, Rhys is able to present the tragic state of women but it is not the solution. The writings of Rhys may be heart-touching but not a solution for the problems of women of her age. In the above context of Julia Martin, Rhys expresses the emotional relationship between mother-daughter pair in adulthood that invites a reading that dominates the paradigm of human intimacy (Simpson Anne B, Page 57).8

Even the kind of modernism that is observed in the narration of Rhys writings was inflected by feminine concerns and the attempt to replicate maternal-infant communication. However, in all the above attempts, the feministic attitude is limited to express the uncertainties of women but not the solution for the problems or the difficulties faced by women. In other words, it can be stated that Rhys has described the oppression of women, but her heroines did not show the way to come out of that oppression, whether it is racial or maybe regarding male domination. Rhys replicated nascent forms of human life in symbolic forms but did not suggest any methods in her novels to come out of the problems in those forms of human life. Moreover, Rhys draws support from Klein’s theory that uses Freud’s postulates that the infant reacts to frustration to aggressive fantasies and goes into imagination (Simpson, Anne B, Page 57).9

As the child likes all the giving breast in its imagination, similarly Rhys heroines imagine monetary favors from males and the reasons for expecting those monetary favors are the ones, which are rooted in the society. In the same manner, Rhys divided the world into two objects that are all good and all bad. Rhys demonstrates the above things in Julia’s behavior as she loves the way the hotel is maintained but is afraid of the people on the premises. Bringing culture and race in between pairing of women with their suitors, Rhys memorizes that the Jews and women are aligned as outsiders in the prevailing cultural hegemony, the women being from third world countries or Creole women. Rhys narrates about some inaccessible figures in Julia’s life, who are not useful to her but still have a relation with Julia. However, Rhys ignores that Julia is not useful to them as well when the materialistic views are considered. The narration that explains the credence to inner states with external reality, illustrates the projective identification. However, Rhys heroines are unhappy at their projective identification and that results in psychic hunger, which is not the solution for their problems. That means Rhys as a feminist emphasized in expressing the women’s owes but not the solutions from the side of society as well as females (Simpson, Anne B, Pages 57-61).10

Eroticism and Female Creativity

Rhys’s expression of women indulging in sexual activities results in the word of ‘eroticism’ by other feminists. Moran Patricia (2006) quotes Audre Lorde, who challenged women to examine the relationship between erotic and female creativity (Page 12).11 When erotic nature is considered as the measure that begins one’s self and chaos of strong feelings, it becomes a life force at all levels, particularly in the levels, where Rhys heroines are engaged in sexual activities with men. It can be termed as that Rhys like Lorde considered erotic as a source of power and information for women and simultaneously has shown anguish for not having an atmosphere of positive relationships with the fellow beings in society. Hence, it can be termed that Rhys discovered the pervasive power of the erotic and expressed it in her heroines. Moreover, Rhys expressed the effects of traumatic childhood sexual experiences in female corporeality and to fiction writing. For Rhys, mental seduction by a family friend at the age of fourteen was a traumatized childhood sexual experience and her fiction rejects Freud’s renunciation of the seduction theory.

The above aspect can be observed in Rhys’s move from realism to modernism and from trauma to sexual favors as her heroines transform with the experiences in their life. As a result, Rhys celebrated her anxieties about female embodiment in the attention to detail to contest patriarchal devaluations of femininity. Another important fact that Rhys writings are deviated from conventional or traditional activities is due to the painful memories they faced in their life. As a result Rhys articulated aesthetics of trauma for the gender problems. According to Moran Patricia (2006), Rhys recovered from traumatic memory by integrating the experience into an organized, detailed verbal account, oriented in time and historical content in the form of her novels (Moran Patricia, Page 13). Hence the works of Rhys can be termed as therapeutic treatment for the trauma of Rhys as well as for the women like her. Moreover, Rhys’s works are the ones, which represented her trauma aftermath (Moran, Patricia, 12-17).12

Lack of Eroticism due to Oppression

Reyes Angelita (2001) quotes the words of the protagonist from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Poem ‘I am not mad, I am black’ as the assertion of racial heritage not being a substitution of irrationality (page 1).13

The inherent aspect of racial oppression is about the racial heritage that decides the capability and nature of women. In the above-mentioned quotation of man and black, the author tries to convey the message that the oppressed women are aware of their capabilities and if there is any lack of feminism is arises due to oppression only. The black women’s situation is worse than Creole women’s as one cannot show compassion for slave mothers. As a result, they are desperate and may commit infanticide and then suicide to escape the oppression in the future. The murder of a child by its mother seems to be fanatical but that fanaticism arises through oppression and hence, the removal of that type of fanaticism is possible only through the removal of oppression on black women.

The plight of black women can be termed as worse even in the post-colonial period as the mothering of children by slave women is not possible as they do not have enough time to do so. Consequently, the bondage and miscegenation may result in fanaticism. One can observe rationality in black women when they try to assert their identity that they are not mad while they are caught in slavery and human consciousness in them guides them through the intention of freedom. However, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, even freedom was weighed down by economic rewards, and the oppressed people are forced to take those rewards to meet their needs. As a result, that aspect has overshadowed the moral consciousness of black women and their real intentions are not clear to the society and that resulted in a situation of delaying their freedom as they are not able to take part in feminist movements due to their slavery.

However, the post-colonialism effect on feminism is important as it is the situation in the majority of regions of the World. The reason is that the history of Creole, as well as black women, is connected to colonization and it takes time for women as well as feminists to remove that connection and to be in par with other women. There are various concerns regarding the post-colonial conditions and one such concern is about colour and race of women. The former is a concern of black women and the later is the cause of concern for Creole women. The result of above concern is that they are pitted opposite against white women without their intention of being opposite to them. Hence, ethnic identity comes to the fore to cope with the the post-colonial situation that may result in racial discrimination. In the above context, Reyes Angelita (2001) quotes Jamaican Writer Michelle who affirms those aspects in history and culture about image of colour that is connected to global histories (Reyes, Angelita Dianne, page 2). 14

The presence of new nations and dethroned patriarchies newly emerged and upcoming ethnic groups pose complex situations and problems to deal with and in the above mentioned conditions the fate of women is another complex issue. Consequently, until the complexities rose by the above-mentioned aspects are cleared; the women might have to find the solutions on their own to cope up with the competition with other women that belong to ruling class or race while colonies are present. However, that situation is not long living or permanent but it take time to Creole or black women to compete with women who have advantage over them regarding their social status in society. Hence, the post-colonial heritage stretching resulted in a competitive environment for Creole and black women to fight for their identity. However, the above mentioned fight is capable of giving them a bright future for them as well as next generation. However, the women present in the time frame of immediate period of the post-colonial time, may find difficult to adjust to the new cultural environment as well as geographical boundaries.

Though it is complex, they provide women to have opportunities though it is difficult to utilise them. The reason for the above factor is that the reverberations of colonial history play a major role than the practices of feminism. However, it is not difficult to bring feminism to the fore and to enable Creole as well as black women to compete with others. The combination of feminism with new global consciousness in the post-colonial situation can result diversity in human family and that may result in belief in the oneness of humanity. That means making oppressed women to compete with other women can bring out changes in family as it develops awareness in them. The above aspect is possible in the post-colonial period than in the past. However, a structural change in present day societies is necessary for bringing change in women’s lives. The new perspectives in the post-colonial era will aid the feministic views or help women to overcome the oppression in the past. Thus new perspectives and needs of the emerging societies result in world peace, racial unity, equality between men and women and at last the emphasis on humanity may result in competitiveness instead of oppression on Creole and black women. The important aspect that helped Creole as well as black women in the post-colonial period is abolition of slavery as it resulted in freedom for women to choose their way of life.

In the above mentioned situation, the world delivered justice to women in nineteenth century and that paved way for development of feministic views in the society. The important obstacle for development of women is the one, which is present in every change. It is very difficult to give up anything familiar or which makes our work easier. Hence, the women and the societies, who are habituated to gain on oppression of others, may not easily give up that nature. In this juncture of time, the Creole as well as Black women should compete with their oppressors with newly attained freedom or equal opportunities. The above aspect in Creole as well as black women can be termed as the post-colonial consciousness that makes them to compete with their oppressors. However that is not an easy task as the opponents of third world women are stronger in their structure of society and that results in having an advantage over Creole as well as black women. The above aspect makes the situation tougher to women of third world countries, though it is possible to overcome the oppression. As every possibility is not so easy, it takes time to expansion powers of Europe to have a different policy toward emerging nations.

The reason for it is that naturally, the countries that ruled over colonies in the past try to protect their supremacy over their past colonies using technology as well as superior education systems and society structure. Hence, diverse ethnic groups living in countries that are the heads of the colonies in the past may result in being political minorities in the countries they reside. As a result, it will be difficult to compete with majorities as they head the government and dominate in the society. As the structure and nature of the societies of majorities and minorities are different, it will be difficult for third world women to mingle with the women of European origin. As a result, they have to struggle for common society structure, though there is difference in ethnicity as well as the culture. Hence, the co-existence of cultures of minority and majorities in a same society is necessary for Creole as well as black women to compete with their counterparts. Hence, to make a change it is necessary for mothers in third world women to work for a better world for their children (Reyes Angelita Dayanne, Pages 1-9).

Regarding changes in women’s status in society, Reyes Angelita Dayanne (2001) quotes Carole Boyce Davies that the changes in women’s lives depend upon politics of location and geography (Page 17). 15

Hence, one can observe that the the post-colonial atmosphere gives opportunities for new locations. They are regarding political as well as geographical ones. However, the women as migration subjects may find themselves in intercultural and interracial situations and that needs social, psychological and logistical preparation of women. The the post-colonial atmosphere though throws new opportunities, it is difficult for women to get out of oppression immediately because it is difficult and complex task to transform old societies though they exist in new political locations as the structure of the old institutions cannot be abolished or removed overnight or in a short period of time. As a result, it is necessary for women to educate their children instead of making themselves to compete with their oppressors in the past.

The reason is that the oppressed women suddenly cannot attain a position of competing with oppressors though they have equal opportunities. It is due to the fact that the oppressed do not have enough resources for competing with their oppressors and it is better to provide the resources for their children as it can make them resourceful in the future to compete with their oppressors. Consequently, it can be termed that the the post-colonial climate and societies are not suitable for third world women to compete with their counterparts but can immediately offer opportunity for their next generation. Hence, it may take one or two generations to be competitive with their oppressors and as an immediate assessment it can be termed that the the post-colonial atmosphere alone is not sufficient for third world women to compete and gain in terms of career and freedom (Reyes, Angelita Dianne, Pages 17-30). 16

Females as Teachers in the post-colonial Period

The important aspect in females is that they act as first educators for their children. As there used to be limited opportunities in the past for Creole as well as black women to educate their children according to their wishes, the the post-colonial atmosphere is capable of filling that gap but is not enough to make third world women competent to their European counterparts. Moreover, the interaction of children can make them learn tolerance and can grow to appreciate difference. Hence, the only aspect that the the post-colonial atmosphere offers to third world women is about making their children capable and educated irrespective of their gender. As the above opportunity is limited in the past, the the post-colonial atmosphere makes the third world women to act as first educators for their children but is not capable enough to make them have equal status with their past oppressors or to have an identity.

For example, the the post-colonial atmosphere in United States marginalised blacks from view point of race and black women as mentioned have got only opportunity to educate their children and identity is a far away dream for many of them. The important aspect that plays to get identity is empowerment and that is a distant dream of third world women in the immediate period of the post-colonial time as the newly emerged societies may not give them an assurance about empowerment of women. When those new societies and geographical locations develop into efficient democracies and when the women have right to vote, they can get that empowerment in the course of time but not just due to the the post-colonial era only. The important aspect in the the post-colonial period is that there will be military battles for slaves as there will be no slavery and that may result in freedom and peace of mind for women to look after their families and children, while their males are earning. However, it is not the atmosphere that assures equality with males or which can provide identity due to empowerment (Reyes Angelita Dayanne, Pages 17-20).17

Identity and Women

The identity of women can be best known from Jean Rhys as her protagonists in her novels struggle for the same. She expressed herself in her protagonists in her novels as being a Creole and not English women. However, the uncertainty in her novels indicates that the post-colonial atmosphere is not giving enough opportunities to third world women to be equal with men or to have identity and to get empowerment. As a third world women, Rhys expressed her love for her native place (in this context Dominica) and that has been evoked powerfully in her novel Wide Sargasso Sea. She is caught between lack of equality and absence of identity in her native place. As she was not able to be equal with men in her life or they did not treat her as equal, she expressed that anguish in her novels. Moreover, her feeling of sadness that her native place is dominated by blacks but not by creoles arises from the fact that she is not a majority or dominant in native place as well as in Britain. The heroines of Rhys have no knowledge about Caribbean as she is a descendant of slave owners coming to England but not able to have enough identity or equality with men.

She got her identity with her novels but she did not get her equality with men in her life as all the men left her on one or other cause. Her status in Britain is as Colonial women and that left her vying for identity and equality, which is expressed in her novels. The most important aspect in Rhys is that she fought for identity as West Indian Writer and she got it only publication of Wide Sargasso Sea. As in the case of Rhys and her heroines, it will be difficult for Creole and black women to have identity and equality in countries far away from their birth place. The identity was not possible for third world women in Britain as men like Mackenzie view them with fascination as well as alarm. In the above context, it is not possible to get identity as well as equality and the same happened with Rhys and she got her identity by writing her hardship while trying to get it. However, equality with men has been elusive for her and the third world Creole women like her in Britain. As the third world women think about their native place they have left long before, when their men leave them, it is difficult to be equal with them. Moreover, the post-colonial situation do not help them to get equality as the societies are formed to gain equality. As Helen Carr (2003) quotes about Paul Theroux (1972) doubting that the lack of space may be a reason for not having identity, the same can be true with other Creole as well as black women (Helen Carr, Page 106).18

As long as they do not feel the location they stay as their own place, it is difficult for them to have an identity. However, the racial as well as gender oppression keeps them away from feeling the location as their own place and when they try to establish their nativity, it gives identity only to celebrities but not for common women. The reason for that is that the white Creoles in Britain and France separated themselves from their places of origin and the identification of themselves with their places of origin may not result in positive manner. When third world women try to identify themselves likewise in Wide Sargasso Sea, they have to fight vehemently as they face rejection in the post-colonial period. 19

Ethnicity and Identity

Even in the post-colonial period, ethnicity determines any woman’s identity. In the above context, Helen Carr (2003) opines that the diversification of ethnicity in third world results in fascination as well as alarm like in the case of Mackanzie regarding Jean Rhys (Page 105).

The brutal history between the ethnic groups makes them unknown about their own identity and lack of establishment of themselves results in lack of equality with men as they are alarmed with the origins of third world women. Hence, the third world women are in double oppression of race and gender and as a result the the post-colonial atmosphere with just the new social structures is not at all enough to give them identity as well as gender equality (Helen Carr, Page 104-105).

Schwarz Bill (2003) quotes Brathwaite who expressed his wish to see white Creole as an alien outsider and that is expressed in Jean Rhys novels (Page 18).

She expressed that feeling about herself in her novels with her heroines. However, her novels express her sense of guilt and from that she makes a beautiful figment of relationship between white and black. As Creole inhabitants of Caribbean are minority when compared to blacks, the expressions of Jean Rhys in her novels can also be treated as related to black. Hence, the responses and competitiveness of third world women in Britain or other European countries depend on country and area they come from. For example, in countries like West Indies and India, women differ even with the areas and states they live. Hence, though they face oppression and gender inequality more when compared with European women, the receiving and the response for it depends on their culture. For example Jean Rhys comes from poor catholic neighbourhood and the atmosphere in Britain is of elite protestant. Hence, in the initial days it may be difficult for Rhys to understand about the responses of Britain people towards her.

The women like Rhys who mingle with very little white Protestants in their childhood and lived in white minority cannot inculcate British culture and those results in people receiving her in a different way. As a result the third world women in the post-colonial atmosphere may feel about homelessness as they live in a culture that is not they faced in their childhood. However, they can provide atmosphere for their children to be a part of British culture and when they grow up; they can understand the society better than their mothers as they have spent their childhood in Britain. As many of third world people come to Britain for identity but find themselves as aliens to the locals as they are not in a mood to make her part of their society.

As third world women love their native place and still reject it, it may result in a dual feeling of being not able to accustom them in the atmosphere they want to live. The same thing happens in countries like Britain for them and that may result in lack of identity as well as inequality with males as they do not treat third world women, Creole and black women at par with Britain women. One more interesting aspect in Jean Rhys that made her not able to cope up with men and women in Britain is that she came to England not on her will but due to the convention that Creole women are sent there for education. Moreover, the disturbing childhood in Creole or third world women makes their entry into England painful if they face prejudice and poverty in metropolitan world. Bill Schwarz (2003) points out the expatriate situation of Creole and third world women in Britain that make them to feel that they are not at home (Bill Schwarz, Page 24).20

As the third world and Creole as well as black women feel that they are not entirely of either place, they feel the sense of exile and loss and that makes them to be far away from competing with males as well as females of society. However, as the experience of Diaspora is not shaped by culture of their native place, the Creole and black women may face a situation to shape themselves according to the present society they face and that situation is not for their local counterparts. Hence, it will be difficult to compete with them and the post-colonial atmosphere is no way related to solve above mentioned issues of third world women (Schwarz Bill, Page 18-32).21

Woman as Human Being and Symbol

Jean Rhys Heroine talks about England in ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ as “Is England like a dream?… She said this place London is like a cold dark dream sometimes. I want to wake up”.

The above quotation from the novel reveals her coldness towards British people as she was not being accepted by them. In the above quotation, the heroine dreams about England and when she realizes it, she recognizes that the dream is cold and not giving her warmth of love, acceptance and identity. She wants wake up from the dream as she is not satisfactory of the identity she is getting in her personal life. In the context of the novel’s theme and description of England as a cold dream, Jean Rhys sees an opportunity to write her a life through a novel. Rhys depicts the will and wishes of third world women, Creole women as well as black women’s intentions of stepping out of realm of caricature to become a human being and a symbol. However, the symbolism in the novel ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ should be viewed from feminist perspective to notice several assumptions of Heroine Antoinette and her race. Rhys talks about the meaning of Creole and understands as white cockroach in the minds of people in England as her origins are French combined with poverty. As she is a catholic also, Antoinette has been set apart from the wealthy English as it is the case of Jean Rhys.

As Rhys faced the inequality problem with men and women in England, she tried to express the theme of having no home, no society feelings of Creole as well as third world women. One can understand that in the the post-colonial societies, the conflicts of colonial regime play a role that decides the relationships between persons and not the feminist attitude that decides the course of relations. As Rhys is of French origin and there existed a bitter conflict between French and British at the time in her childhood, she has been alienated from society she is living in England. The same has been depicted in her novel and the fact that it is not feminism or the equal opportunities to the women that guide the societies in the immediate period after colonial regime. Hence, Jean Rhys depicts the character of Antoinette as a Creole woman who stands alone in England after the colonial regime. In the above context, the lack of identity of Antoinette has been repeatedly expressed by her husband by giving her an English identity, instead of French origin she has. Hence, it is clear that they are not identified as they are after the colonial period in England and the racial as well as gender oppression continues to be in form to hinder the women from gaining identity and individuality.22


While gaining individuality, identity comes in the way. Rhys tries to gain identity by invoking Bible several times and intermixing Christian allusions in Christian faith that are Caribbean in nature. As she tried to establish her identity and individuality depending on Caribbean origins she have, it has been difficult for her to achieve that goal. Hence, it can be termed that it is not so easy to gain identity, which is not in terms of the local culture and thoughts. That has been proved with her husband Rochester as he opines that her beautiful island is a dream and not real. She faces same rebellion from Rochester as she and her mother faced in the hands of freed slaves and was left with a burnt home. The concept of white cockroach also comes to the fore here as Rochester reminds her the status she had in his mind. As a whole, the rich experiences of a poor third world woman are not enough to gain individuality, identity and equality in the post-colonial period, if she comes from a third world country to Britain. It will be still more difficult to have equality and identity if her culture is different or opposite to those of natives.23

Moreover, as Jean Rhys tries to narrate geography, customers and traditions of Jamaica and the Windward Islands in Wide Sargasso Sea, it can be termed as the memoirs of Jean Rhys about her motherland while she is living in Britain. The Heroine descends into madness after the breakdown of her marriage with Rochester and that is the extreme thing that a third world woman or a Creole woman can get in the post-colonial period when she is living away from her motherland in Britain. In addition to that she remembers her childhood experience in the hands of freed slaves as they have burnt their house. As it is clear that they have done it in fit of rage remembering the oppression in the hands of Antoinette’s family’s hands, she faced same type of oppression in Britain, which her family gave their slaves in the past. Hence, one can understand that though Creoles, blacks and other third world woman face problems regarding identity, equality and individuality; the Creoles case can be termed as different as they have the culture of having slaves in their past, which is not the case of black and other third world women. As a result, Creole women try to be equal with other white women in Britain, which is not accepted by the latter. Hence, instead of searching opportunities in the the post-colonial era, Creoles like Jean Rhys may end up in feministic thoughts that demand equality more than opportunity.

The above aspect may lead a woman transforming from lovable character to pitiable character as the lack of opportunities may deny equality and identity also. Antoinette and her creator Jean Rhys might have faced same thing in the hands of males they have in their life and thus remain as tragic character. The same may be the case of black and third world women in the post-colonial era as they too face same problems of identity and individuality. However, if they search for opportunities giving less preference to equality, there is a chance of getting identity in near future and equality in far future for their children. Meanwhile they have to face certain cunning characters like Rochester as he is representative of complex society as it is seen through the eyes of Creoles, black and third world women. When a third world female is with native male of Britain, generally the male is lovable as well as gullible listening to rumours. As a result, it will be difficult for a woman to bear with people like Rochester. Unfortunately, number of people like Rochester come in their way and in the novel, Rhys depicted as Antoinette’s husband. However, in case of many third world women and black women as well as Creoles, the people like Rochester may be partners, friends or accomplices, who deny them the identity, equality and individuality they try to attain. One important aspect that is expressed in the book is about the description of Jamaica and Dominica that are native places of Jean Rhys.

As an effort to console them from the failure of getting identity and equality in the society they live, the third world women and Creoles may think about the positive aspects of their motherland in an attempt to soothe themselves from the wounds that lack of identity causes to them. The colonial powers in the west in the post-colonial period have impact on Creole, black and third world women. However, the Creole women are better than black and third world women regarding mingling with European women. As Creoles are considered as the ones having European blood, though they lack equality and identity, they can fare better than black and other third world women. However, in case of Jean Rhys, the Caribbean and poverty ridden catholic culture in her childhood resulted in quest for equality even in case of husband instead of being a mother and wife. As a result, her heroines are filled with feministic views rather than utilising the opportunities coming their way. Hence, the Creole women like Rhys may be successful in their professional life but may not be successful in personal life. According to Jean Rhys narration in Wide Sargasso Sea, the betrayal and love may also depend on race relations and gender equality as well as personal experiences.24

Depression and Hard Experiences

The endeavour of Creoles and third world women to overcome lack of identity and inequality in Britain or other European countries may result in depression and hard bitten experiences, if their culture does not match with the society they live. If they are exiles like Jean Rhys from a third world country, they face hardships despite being a white with a Creole identity. As the lack of identity is mentioned in the previous chapters and the mention of Creole identity in the present chapter may be in contradiction, but it has been done to point out how painful is the Creole identity. That means women who migrated from third world countries to European countries like Britain do not like to be named as Creole and like to have equal identity and individuality with local men and women.

However, as that not being possible the Heroine of ‘Voyage of Dark’ Anna Morgan starts her life as chorus girl and travels through dark and dismal towns of England. Rather than getting opportunities, the third world women are forced to settle with males much older than them results in being dependent on them both financially and emotionally. However, in the course of time, the husband being older, they may not find emotional outlet and at times may result in even breaking of the marriage or affair. In the above mentioned condition, the loneliness of women may result in spending the money they earn in drinking to avoid depression. Moreover, they may long to spend their time with men offending their well wishers. Being friendly with men may be a result of loneliness in life and previous failure of marriage. When Anna is lonely and depressed just before she met Ethel Matthews, the author writes that she

“Sleeps like dead”

Thus it brings to the readers’ minds that she is very much out of the world state due to the experiences she had from her male. She gets into touch with a Swedish masseuse who says

“When I say I’m a masseuse I don’t mean like some of these dirty foreigners”.

This means that both of them treat Britain as foreigners. Though Ethel is a Swedish, it seems she had experiences similar to Creole Anna in her life and that made her to take care of our heroine. However, the author brings out the depression in Anna by narrating her relations with number of males while staying with Ethel, which bring differences with her. With such an attitude, the quest of Anna to be an independent woman makes dependent on others and scammed out of money by her friends, who are both men and women. It is evident that the quest of identity and individuality does not pay for a Creole and other third world woman unless they have a prosperous family background that offers opportunities at par with the Women in England. The important aspect in Jean Rhys writings and that can be understood about the words of Ethel when she meets Anna is that there is no sentimentality in narration though the story is sad and bleak. The significant aspect in the narration is that it illuminates the black despair in heroine’s life, which is nothing but the life of Rhys. One can understand that the writing activity of Rhys did not pay her well as she had long gaps between her books.

However, coming out of the Rhys life and again analysing the writings of her, one can observe that Rhys heroines are the ones who float from one man to other, when they are not satisfied with the former or when they are deceived. Rhys make it clear that the value of woman lessens as she becomes more used with each man she has relationship. In that attempt she depicts the way how women are punished by society as well as the men who use them sexually. Moreover, another morality in the Rhys novels is that the woman who changes men in her life only results in poverty, homelessness, desperation and unavoidable need to find another man. When Anna does like that as the new man knows that she is with others in her past life, at times do not recognise her. For example, when Victor looks at photograph of Laurie, who is an actress and friend of Anna talks to himself instead of Anna who is besides him.

He talks about prettiness of Laurie as ‘She is really pretty. But hard- a bit hard’ and ignores the presence of Anna and her feelings when a man she trusts is impressed with another woman. The above mentioned incident talks about the helplessness of women like Anna and their lack of people who treat them as intimate. Rhys experience with men leads her to create woman who are treated by their men as pieces bought from market. In that course of creation she portrays men as the ones who dignify for themselves. The important fact that heroines of Rhys as well as herself change men is due to the fact that they feel that they are better and sharp than their men and do not accept his superiority in life as they treat women as only pretty things. Hence, just the the post-colonial climate is not enough for third world women to get identity and equality as the men treat women as only the things that are pretty enough and the women like Rhys just do not accept that feeling as they feel that they are somewhat more than just being pretty. She talks to herself as follows.

“I was thinking, I’m nineteen and I’ve got to go on living and living and living”

The above text states that to what extent she is feeling bad and depressed about the male dominated the post-colonial society that does not give equality as well as identity at par with native Britain women. Rhys heroines feel bad about the fact that the men recognise only the external prettiness but not internal consciousness and objective intelligence of women. The most important fact that seems to disturb Rhys heroines is that men judge women by their own world and thoughts but not with the consciousness she has. As per the norms of the society in which Rhys or her heroines live, it is not easy or possible to make men to recognise women’s consciousness and objective intelligence, which is different from men’s subjective intelligence. Though Rhys and her heroines meet men with their body, they are not satisfied with the appreciation regarding their body only, as it is not permanent and changes with age and they know that the more men they meet with their body, they are more used and tattered. Hence, they want the men to recognise their inner consciousness as well as intelligence and love for them. However, the love for men in them may not be in full form if men do not reciprocate and that may result them stay alone in life for long period with number of men in their past life. It means that Rhys women are not ready to accept or agree arrogance of men in civil and polite manner that is disdainful for them even without physical aggression. The disdain is due to the lower life they offer for women though they are benefited from them. We can quote text from ‘Voyage in the Dark’ that irritate Rhys and her heroines from Mr. Jones as

“He knows you’d be either eighteen or twenty-two. You girls only have two ages. You’re eighteen and so of course your friend’s twenty-two. Of course”.

One can see the contempt of women’s consciousness and intelligence in the above text and Rhys and her heroines do not like and are even averse of that. Searching for the man who can recognise their consciousness and intelligence, they repeatedly meet men who deal with their body only. When men deal only with body, normally, Rhys and her heroines reject them as Anna does in case of Walter. It is evident from following text.

“He kissed me again and his mouth was hard and I remembered him smelling the glass of wine and I couldn’t think of anything but that, and I hated him. ‘Look here, let me go’, I said”.

In the above context, Anna is considering Walter as consumer and not a lover. She indicates that she wants love and romance but not a deal with the body. She wants him to kiss her differently and she assumes a kiss that is filled with love and romance. However, when her man does not come as she expected she feels that

“The fire was like a painted fire; no warmth came from it”.

However, the emotional relationship begins when he helps her when she is sick and takes care of her after she recovers. Then Anna (in her disguise Rhys) feels that the relationship is long term one and filled with love. However, at the end of the relationship with Walter she is left no money and no home of her own that resembles the fact of lack of individuality and absence of identity. The above mentioned experiences bring out depression in any woman’s life and tell a story of woman of broken heart. The fact is that the the post-colonial climate is not ripe enough to assuage women of broken hearts or avoid them being left as pretty girls only. The experiences of Anna as well as other heroines of Rhys come out of desperation that is a result of loneliness, when they expect more love and romance from the people who can only show lust or can give only a deal for women, but not a life. 25

Woman as Woman

The important fact that can be observed from the above fact is that Rhys depicts woman as woman from the eyes of men and their consumer attitude towards her. That brings out a sense of contemporary alienation in the post-colonial period that detaches women from social fabric as men and money plays the major role. According to above discussion as long as men see women in an attitude of consumer (particularly Creole and third world women) and money plays the major role in the attitude of men toward women it is not possible to get equality as consumer never thinks about being equal with the thing or service he purchases by spending some amount of money. The consumer attitude in male dominated society results in simpler exploitation of women by men as long as there is no emotional relationship between them. However, one can understand that the emotional relationship is hard to develop when women demand identity and equality with men without financial independence.

Hence, as long as women are financially dependent on men, it is not possible to make him understand about the relationship between them. As a result, the situation may depict deep despair in women like Rhys and her heroines and coming to the the post-colonial climate it is not offering women equal opportunities with men. However, as it gives an opportunity for women to take care of their children better than the past, the boys as well as girls can be in a better relationship in the future. The ‘Voyage in the Dark’ starts when Anna is 18 and ends when Anna is 19. The main problem for Anna starts from her childhood as she is alien white between black stepmother and black relatives, who do not accept her. Hence, she does not know what to do for the acceptance of others and when she comes to England and turns 18, her mind is not mature enough to deal with men and local women. As she grew up in an atmosphere of negligence and no one take care of her personality but having everyone at home resulted in indulging in sexual activities at the age of eighteen. The narration of Jean Rhys is about a girl who does not have enough family members to guide her and does not know how to manage the things that come her way. As she is alone, men viewed her as a sexual commodity and that may not be the case of every Creole woman in England as they have enough guidance from their family and required protection in the family framework. 26

Friends and Men in life of Rhys Other Than Family

While considering the protection of the family offered to women, Rhys view is that the women need to live without that protection that forces them to be within the framework of the family. It can be understood that Rhys loved recklessly in her life and the same has been expressed in her novels. She had illustrious friends as her protagonists and she spend money freely as well as the heavy drinking. She created a psychological world for third world women that enable them to search for identity and equality in the post-colonial society of Europe. Deriving of pleasure from sex is main character of Rhys heroines as it is not treated as the character of women in the society, whether it is colonial or the post-colonial. Rhys view is that the sadism as well as the sexual pleasure due to physical and mental abuse is present in relations between men and women and the latter ones are the victims of those sadomasochistic currents in the relationship between men and women termed as love. Rhys success lies in the fact that she wrote the vows of women who face the bad face of love with men so movingly and the emotional destruction she faced by them has been expressed in an exceptional manner. Moreover, she considered alienation of women, who are the type of protagonists in her novels as the one that causes the emotional destruction for third world women vying for equality.

However, Rhys is never unaware that the beauty, intellect and humour of her heroines are dominated by exhaustion, nervousness and dependence on men. Consequently, her men love her and abandoned her when the time is not ripe enough to continue as a partner with her due to her extreme individuality that demands equality and identity. By expressing the above mentioned experiences in the form of a novel, she wrote ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ in which one can find analysis about the depth of the feelings in Rhys regarding men and the society that denies equality to women in career as well as in sex and identity. As the novel Wide Sargasso Sea represents the incidents and characters and are derived from real events in life of Rhys, one can understood the wild sensual nature of childhood in British Indies though it results in schooling of Rhys in England as she did not enjoy that due to discrimination in Britain towards Creole girls as well as women. The relationship of her with men and her rejection of family life by leaving her child with her ex-husband bring to the fore the anguish and torture she experienced in the course of love with men in her life. The tumultuous life of Rhys prompted her to live a carefree life but it did not give her a family as well as protection but she got the identity and equality she vied for in her life. 27

In addition to above aspects, the ostensible nature of vulnerability, depression, loneliness and desperation in women’s life can be viewed in Rhys novels; Quartet, Leaving Mr Mackenzie, Voyage in the Dark, Good Morning Midnight. The protagonists forgotten by their families during the interwar years attach themselves to unsuitable men and that is the central theme of Good Morning Midnight. The attachment with unsuitable men can be termed as an exchange for alcohol, luxurious clothes and attention they lack due to the absence of family and recognition. The the post-colonial structure of female identity can be well known from Good Morning Midnight. As the the post-colonial structure of Britain considered the third world women as outsiders the sympathy gained by the protagonists of Rhys in her novels gave her literary fame that resulted in identity. However, as she lost family life and suitable men in her life, it is evident that identity and equality cost a women her family life in the the post-colonial period.

Good Morning Midnight can be considered as the culmination of early worlds of Rhys as the issues she is primarily considered have been answered though in a negative manner. The marginalisation of Creole women in the post-colonial European society has been established primarily in the discourse of the novel and the reasons regarding race, gender, culture and age are established. Though the novel focuses on death due to sad and disturbing experiences of heroine, the depression she faces is important than the death as that Sasha’s alcoholism and false joy causes it. The important point to mention here is that the same alcoholism and false joy may not cause a man to be depressed as Sasha does in her life. The reason is the different identity and recognition the society gives for men and women in the post-colonial period as well as in the colonial period. Hence, though there are different views emerging from women in the post-colonial period, the society is not ripe enough to receive them irrespective of gender, race and identity. The following text from Good Morning Midnight

“Here this happened, here that happened”

Indicates that Rhys and her heroines are facing lot of pressure from their past of life of reckless love in exchange of alcohol as well as money and pleasure. Another text from the same novel is as follows.

“This damned room-it’s saturated with the past… It’s all the rooms I’ve ever slept in, all the streets I’ve ever walked in. Now the whole thing moves in an ordered, undulating procession past my eyes. Rooms, streets, streets, rooms….”

This reveals that the protagonist Sasha in Good Morning Midnight is repenting for her past life of reckless love that left her alone and depressed as well as a desperate women finding nothing in her life. The situation in the above context of above quoted text reveals that Sasha is unhappy without the comforts and she is aware that they come in exchange of sex and love. However, the important fact is that she is not able to retain them though she is able to get them from men who loved her for sexual pleasures. She recognises their pretention of lust as love when they leave her alone and depressed, when they got what they want. Though she is young and beautiful, she is not able to retain same men but forced to look for a new man, which makes her wretched and stressed in her life. The narration in novel is clouded by alcohol and sleeping aids as Sasha suffers bouts of depression due to her experiences with men. She even meets a Gigolo who tries to extract money as she tried to do it with other men.

The above context in Sasha’s life is an expression of harsh realities women and men face in the post-colonial society and only women are the victims of the activities of exchange of sex for pleasure and money. Rhys describes ambivalence of her protagonist in her novel by expressing uncertainty of identity in her. The narration is a combination of ambivalence a woman can have and the non recognition of that in the post-colonial climate as it happened in colonial era. Hence, it can be understood that the the post-colonial period did not guarantee women to bring them out of the conventional mould of family and non identity. The above aspect is well established in protagonist of Good Morning Midnight as she recalls the jobs she had as a mannequin and shop assistant. The loss of lover and death of her baby makes her depressed and her sense of unworthiness against the men who cannot immediately give her money and pleasure results in a situation of inviting death instead of bearing owes of life in a society that denies equality and identity for women. 28

Exile of a Third World Woman or a Creole

Rhys explains the life of a Creole woman in exile as she was forced to do so. As she came to England in her school days to study and she did it against her wish, she felt the life in England as in exile due to the fact that the fellow girls and women did not accept her. Though Rhys heroines are mercurial in nature, they tend to be alcoholic and depressed when they are not met with recognition and identity with their men and society. Instead of concentrating on career, the thoughts of Rhys heroines to search for new men results in lack of identity without a dignified career. Moreover, it is clear that Sasha in Good Morning Midnight cannot digest her dissolution of her marriage as well as death of her child. Hence, it can be understood that the the post-colonial climate itself is not enough to protect women from the vows of breaking of marriage as men cope up with it.

The sensitivities of women regarding marriage and life makes them vulnerable to depression and fall in life and the society is not ripe enough to prevent women being depressed. It can be understood that as long as women particularly third world or Creole women anxious at social contacts, they are forced to create a localised power over the surroundings they exist. As the localised power is not universal, it cannot bind the men with women they love and that results in breaking of a partnership, whether it is marriage or a partnership. As a result Rhys and her heroines have least control on their life due to the anxiety as well as the nature of being depressed at unexpected bouts from men in their life. Moreover, men identify women according to their presence in physical spaces. The presence of women in rooms, streets, bars and restaurants do not prompt a man to recognise women according to her intellect. However, form the following quoted text,

“Quick like old times,’ the room says. ‘Yes? No?”

From above text, one can understand the ambiguous state of mind of Sasha who is haunted by a mixture of detail and abstract nature of thoughts. The above mentioned detail mixed with abstract resulted in the absence of free will for Sasha and it is evident that the the post-colonial climate in Britain and European countries is not conducible for women like Sasha who concentrates on physical comforts rather than the mental peace. The reason for that attitude in Sasha can be termed as the quest for equal treatment from men regarding sexual pleasure as well as the social status. However, one cannot term the novel as the expression of unwelcoming experiences of a woman. The novel is about the quest of equality and identity in a society that does not permits equal status for women with men regarding sexual pleasures and physical comforts as well.

The only identity that can be attributed in the post-colonial Britain as well as European society is regarding family and out of that framework, women are considered as the ones that can be used for physical comforts mainly the sexual ones. Though the protagonist of Good Morning Midnight is intelligent and sharp witted women, she is recognised as a beautiful woman and her men do not consider her intellect as a quality. One more thing that prompted her men to leave her after sexual pleasures is her sharp sarcasm and penetrating perception. As the men in her life recognised her as a thing of sexual pleasure and a company for alcohol, there is no chance of identifying her intellect. To be more frank in the above context, one can understand that the men in her life are not ready to accept her intelligence and quest for equality and tried to make her dependent on them. To express the above nature of men the post-colonial society Rhys expressed her characters in precise and careful mould that gives the impression of a cruel attitude of men towards women. From the view of men the women like Sasha are irresponsible and pleasure seeking ones, but from the perception of Rhys the equality and quest for identity matters during the relationships of women with men.

The abrupt ending in paragraphs in the novel Good Morning Midnight indicate the indecisiveness in Sasha’s mind regarding her future as her men and fellow beings are not able to understand her quest for equality with men in the society. Even the well wishers of Sasha advise her to be careful with men and not to indulge in reckless love that gives sexual pleasures and company of men with alcohol. However, Sasha tries the above things as she feels that women should be equal with men, but she did not get that in her real life and that negative experience drives her into bouts of depression and ambiguity about her future. From the above contexts of Rhys novels, one can understand that her novels and narration created a space in the post-colonial society for women who want equality in society and her voice resonates with lot of Creole and third world women. It is clear from the fact that the women responded overwhelmingly to the shows when Good Morning Midnight has been made a drama for the public shows. The success of Good Morning Midnight as a novel and a play indicates the inherent attitude of women to be equal with men in the society. 29

Expression of Desire Regarding Equality

In expressing the desire of equality and identity, Rhys writes fascinating stories though they are unsettling. The significance of Rhys works can be understood when the desire for equality and identity in the protagonists the novels was understood by the reader. In making the readers understand that thing, Rhys presents psychologically dark and stylistically complex stories of her protagonists in their past life, which are similar to the experiences of Rhys herself. As a result the novels and stories of Rhys can be understood as the experiences of women who strive for equality in the post-colonial Britain and other countries of Europe. Moreover, it will be evident from the novels of Rhys for example; Wide Sargasso Sea that the heroines as well as Rhys herself are courageous in nature but the reader can understand that simply courage is not enough to gain partners as well as enjoyable life.

The inherent theme in every work of Rhys is that men with protagonists in the novels are enchanted by Creole as well as the third world women but they reject the untamed countryside. The rejection of third world women by European men is inherent in each and every story and novel of Rhys and that aspect depicts the post-colonial male dominated society that discriminates them racially and on the basis of gender. Hence, one can understand the oppression of females in the post-colonial society through the experiences of Rhys. The above aspect can be believed because; Rhys can be seen emotional in her narration in Good Morning Midnight about Sasha, the protagonist. Unless the novel is own story of the writer, one cannot be so emotional while writing about a particular experience or theme. Though many people do not believe that all the first person narrations are autobiographies, the narration of Rhys in first person about heroine Sasha makes many of thoughtful readers to believe that first person narrations can be autobiographies. The important aspect and the reality in Good Morning Midnight is that the narration never detract from the theme or the story Rhys wants to tell and it can be possible, if the story is her own.

Moreover, the rawness in story criticises the systems in the the post-colonial society that oppresses females of third world or Creoles. Hence, the narration in Rhys novels more particularly in ‘Good Morning Midnight’ is not conventional but that of a woman who is desperate to achieve her goal of completing her desires and letting her emotions out. However, men do not care for the emotions of women for long if they are not the life partners for them. Consequently, Sasha the protagonist of ‘Good Morning Midnight’ fumbles towards the end of herself due to her experiences with men.

Though she tries for a little comfort from her experiences and memories, it is not permanent and at last she faces problems from her physical as well as mental interactions with men. Despite the above context, Rhys portrays her heroine as realistic, poor, ageing and charmless. As a result of her poverty and loss of charm due to her experiences with men, she’s mostly defeated. Due to the defeat of her in the hands of men she interacted, it reminds her loss of life as child as well as the youth. The optimism in her youth has been lost due to lack of attention towards her and addiction to alcohol also. Even the addiction to alcohol may come from the fact that she is vying for equality and she tried to suppress her depression like men by using alcohol. However she recognises herself in the feelings of other woman. That means she is aware of the changes in her life and mind due to her experiences and loss of time as well as the opportunities. It can be understood from the following text from Good Morning Midnight:

“I look at the window of the first shop. There is a customer inside. Her hair, half-dyed, half-grey, is very dishevelled. As I watch she puts on a hat, makes a face at her in the glass, and take it off very quickly. She tries another-then another. Her expression is terrible-hungry, despairing, hopeful, quite crazy. At any moment you expect her to start laughing the laugh of the mad.”

The above text that expresses the feelings of Sasha indicates that she is aware of estimating the feelings and mental status of others by their mannerisms as well as their expressions while doing their duty or while shopping. She is able to recognise the madness of the woman she saw. Her intellect does not stop here. She even finds herself in the same condition within no time and it is evident from the fact that she discovers the same condition in her face and mind while she is seeing herself in the mirror to buy a hat that suits for her. The above fact reveals that Sasha is aware of the feverish ritual in her face, which is present in the faces of those who are defeated and who are about to be defeated. This means she is introspecting and that is making her recognise the demented expression in her mind and face. However, instead of choosing a way to remove that demented expression on her face and the cause form the mind, she manipulates the moment into a relationship. In the above context the dependence on the shop girl is both frightening and touching. Frightening is due to the fact that she is not aware of the future consequences of dependence and touching is due to the fact that she is not making use of her intelligence to be a successful person in her life.

The frightening nature and fearful attitude dominated her intelligence and left her dependent on men and friends more than the limit. The same thing might have happened in life of Rhys also and she expressed it emotionally in Good Morning Midnight. She estimates horror and wretchedness in her life by seeing the same in other people and by reacting to it she is trying to make friends with new people to remove it. The important fact in Sasha’s character is she wants very much to be seduced by men and in that course she meets a gigolo. Not knowing that he is a gigolo she wines and dines with him expecting sexual as well as monetary pleasures. However, a gigolo also expects the same from a woman, both misunderstand each other and discord happens between them. In this condition when she knows that she met a gigolo Sasha’s condition is pathetic and unlikeable as there are no comforts from a gigolo. However, the story is not organized due to the contexts like the ones mentioned just above and the convergence of story line between Sasha and Gigolo undermine her intelligence as an intellectual cannot go behind a man or a person of opposite sex to have comforts and his/her desires meet. Moreover, even the people of feministic attitude do not forgive portraying an intelligent protagonist who has a quest for equality to be equal with a gigolo. The above context gives reader an indication that she behaves like that gigolo as well in making men to meet her needs and desires. Hence, it is difficult to interpret the status of third world women in the post-colonial Europe if the interactions of Sasha with a gigolo are considered. However, the experiences of Rhys in her life forced her to portray her heroine in such a way as she faced unhappy situations more in her life than happiest moments.

The women like Rhys though they are intelligent do not have self control regarding physical and mental pleasures and it is evident from the outbursts of her with Mr. Plante a follow writer. In a conversation with Plante, she is drunk and started to shout that she is unhappy. In addition to that she feels that Mr. David Plante is happy. In that shouting she sounds that others (mostly men) are happy at the cost of her happiness. The domination of unhappy moments in life of Rhys resulted in emotional narration even about the incidents that depict the downfall of the protagonist. Rhys might have experienced same downfall in her life and that made her to portray her heroine in the same manner. From unhappiness she fears death and that too the death, while she is alone. However, there is no instance in life of Rhys that she acted to drive away her loneliness. Though she wanted to have company, she tried her accomplices on temporary basis instead of making her men a life partner to live with. The fact is that she is unable to bear the condition of man being the dominated character in family life and she might have rejected it mentally. As a result even at the end of her life, she is alone without a man who touches her heart as well as intelligence.30

The most important thing Rhys novels is that she tries to prove that the post-colonial society in Britain and other European Women is not conducive enough for women to live with identity outside the family and in that course of depicting she even presents her heroines as the ones who exchange sexual pleasures for comforts as well as monetary benefits. Moreover, she presents her narrative in the novels as a fiction that comes from reality. This is because Rhys tries to tell the stories from the prism of her own consciousness but not from that of the others. Hence, in her novels, the heroines recognise their own problems and difficulties in life but not of others as one of the protagonist do not care for the elder woman who gives shelter for her. The main reason for Rhys and her heroines being caught up in problems is the fact that they are a head of their times in their writings as well as behaviour. The lack of financial and emotional stability added to owes of being a head of their times. The important incidents in her life; being born in while elite of Dominica, being an outsider in Europe, married three times and widowed twice, lost one of her children and being alcoholic due to depression that experiences in her life brought to her. The above incidents and contexts in life of Rhys prompted her to find the simplest practicalities beyond her and wrote the stories and novels. This is evident from her words;

“I have only ever written about myself”.

The above words indicate that she enjoyed sexual pleasures from men as well as monetary benefits being outside their married life. As a result one of her marriage was broken and she did not even bother about her child. Most of her novels depict the worries of Creole woman (it can be understood as third world woman also as she is from Caribbean), who want to recapture happiness and intensity of pain in her past life. The descriptions about the places she live indicate that Rhys did not like to live uncomfortably in her life and want to live a comfortable life with physical and mental pleasures. However, whenever she seeks them from the men she interacts they provide her with them but do not stay with her for a long time. The heroines of Rhys think about the places to have midday meal, dinner and drink after dinner. The above contexts indicate that the heroines are not homely and are not accustomed to be at home, but are frantic to dine, drink and shop to give an outlet for their depression and fear, which is common in third world women who failed in their life in Britain as well as in other European countries. 31

Story Telling and its Effect as Impact on Life of Women

The important fact in story telling of Rhys is that she lives in her narration and that comes from reality as her incidents in narration take birth from her own experiences rather than of the others. The aspects of too much drinking, certain cafes and streets make Rhys writings a contemporary feminist reading as a female protagonist tells her experiences. As she tells the story in first person, she lives in the novel and the solution for the problem she narrates will be past thing and she exposes her mind and heart to reader. While doing her mannequin job, Rhys heroine enjoys with men and while shopping a hat she discovers the strange and fearful or crazy aspect in her that frightens her when she sees that in others. Moreover, the important fact in all Rhys Writings is that her family finds the protagonist embarrassing in one or other moment. When the protagonist loses her child, Rhys comments that she leaves her with no wrinkle or a crease.

However, the narration or expression is more traumatic or expresses trauma in the following quotes, “the drowning, and when you sink you sink to the accompaniment of loud laughter”; and now “I am a bit of an automaton, but sane, surely-dry, cold and sane”

The above text reflects the anguish in a woman who loses her husband due to cultural differences as well as the problems with identity and equality in their relationships. The important aspect that made Rhys novels and narration popular is the perfect depiction of the problems of a woman who failed to get identity and equality in family as well as in society. Had she got the equality and identity in her family, she would not have separated from her husband. The lack of identity and equality in her family and breaking of her family relationships resulted in interaction with other men who used her for sexual comforts rather than a companion. When Rhys and her heroines recognise that fact, their female consciousness does not accept the company of that man and that resulted in separation and a consequent search for another man. The increase of number of men in life of a woman makes her life duller. The same happened with Rhys in her real life and with heroines in her novels and finally, they are without a company for life time and are depressed with loneliness in life.

The important factor that resulted in loneliness and depression as well as failure is the cultural gap in the mind of Rhys and her heroines with that of the the post-colonial society in Britain and other European countries. One thing that is common Rhys and her heroines is that they are helpless and sad instead of being militant to face men. The intellectual nature of their mind might have resulted in not being militant but the lack of family relationships could have resulted in failure in social life and interactions with men. Moreover, women like Rhys and heroines are capable of expressing humour in adverse conditions and see the comedy in bitter memories and humiliating encounters. However, there is no evidence in the novels of Rhys that her heroines learnt from the experiences. Instead of that they tried the same thing even after a failure with a person. The other aspect that can depress the women in the likes of Rhys heroines is that the sensitivity along with intelligence they have. Sensitivity results in being emotional first and then thinking practically. That means, the women like heroines of Rhys think with heart first and then with mind, which results in breaking up relations due to difference in cultural perceptions about men and the equality and identity they want to get from them. Hence, the lack of consciousness being expressed in every interaction with men has resulted in failure to get equal status with men and a lack of a successful career.

Family, Protection and Career

While considering the family and protection as well as career opportunities and identity is important to understand what is home in contemporary society. According to Nasta Sushiela (2002), home can be termed as the one where one belongs to as well as one starts from. Regarding third world women and their existence in Britain, it is important to have definition of home as above (Nasta Sushiela, Page 14). 32

As the the post-colonial atmosphere is inherently fluid and transnational, it is important to establish the home in a society that they have arrived from another place. As the notion of home differs from third world women and native men and women in Britain, the political, ideological and symbolic baggage that implies the notion of home is important as it decides the identity and individuality of women. Though third world women consider Britain as post imperial nation, it is important to note that the cultural aspects of them and locals may differ and may result in clash regarding identity. As third world women like Rhys and her heroines identify themselves as the part of Britain society, British men may not view them like that and that may result in struggle for identity for a women who strive for identity that is above and more than a family. If they use the home as well as family as a force and authority, they can held an image of England as the one, which offers comfortable competition for their existence in careers.

However, if they held England as colonial motherland then they may feel betrayed like the subjects before and after independence of the country to which they belong before coming to Britain. However, modernity comes to the fore in case of both family and career of third world women including Creoles, when they feel that they want to be contained in European body. When they recognise that accountability is crucial to gain identity in the post-colonial Britain, the traditional aspects may not come in their way of gaining individuality or equality. However, when women depend on men for one or the other reason, the equality goes back and the prettiness as well as the consumerist attitude of men towards women comes to the fore as it is in the case of Rhys heroines. However, the cross cultural encounters between third world women and British men and women results in creating a climate for cultural reconfigurations, but that is not possible in an immediate atmosphere of the post-colonial period.

The cultural reconfigurations takes reasonable time for example at least a generation and till then the women like Rhys and her heroines may feel difficult to gain equality with men as well as an identity other than family. Though Rhys is a Caribbean writer, she can be termed as the one similar to the South Asian writers affected by experiences of colonialism in one or the other form. As a result their encounter with British certainly brings out cultural and societal differences as is the case of Rhys. Rhys also came from a society that is ruled by British and a French catholic community that suffered from poverty in contrast to prosperous Britain protestant community. Though there may exist prosperous Catholic communities in other part of the world, as Britain people are familiar with poverty ridden Catholics from countries like that of Caribbean, it is important to note that unless bound in a family atmosphere, it is difficult for third world women to gain identity in Britain society. Nasta Susheila quotes Mary Louise Pratt (1992) about situation of third world women in colonial peripheries who have migrated to Britain during colonialism (Nasta, Sushiela, Page 29).33

In this context author talks about Asian ventriloquism that makes the connections of Asians in Britain difficult to define about home and abroad. As most of the commoners in Britain see the women as well as the people from third world countries like Caribbean and Asia as the fallouts of Imperialism, it is important to note that the people from colonies are part of British population from hundreds of years. Nasta Susheila quotes Malabari’s ‘The Indian Eye on English Life (1893) in which the theme was the difficult role of Indian as well as third world people in Britain (Nasta, Sushiela, Page 33).34

However, one thing is evident that as mentioned in Rhys novels and stories, it is important to note that the seduction of Britain while people reside in colonies is not so much when they arrive there. The similarity between Malabari and Rhys is about the above mentioned aspect, which breaks the dreams of third world women when they come thinking Britain as home but the fact that Britain society sees the home of them elsewhere cannot be written off. The important aspect that disappoints third world women in Britain is that they come to England expecting the cosmopolitanism, but they cannot see that aspect to full length as they expected when they are far away from Britain. In this context Nasta Sushiela quotes T.N.Mukharji’s ‘A Visit to Europe’ (1899) that tells us that an European will learn to see himself s others sees him (Nasta, Sushiela, Page 34).

At the time of writing that book, the South Asia particularly India is under colonial rule, the South Asians see Britain or other countries in Europe as imperialistic ones and they too feel so. Applying this aspect to the case of women like Jean Rhys, it can be understood that the men in Britain viewed themselves superior to Rhys and her heroines and understood her as the one that has come from poor catholic community. As the conventions of Victorian culture are different from that of Caribbean Creoles of French origin and Catholic community, Rhys might have found it difficult to cope up with men in Britain. As she has no problem about language, she could have adapted to the local culture but she did not. The above aspect is evident from the fact that her men never understood her from the point of identity and equality. This means, men in Britain, may not value the Creole women who do not have family background or academic standards as well as a designation. The heroine Anna in Voyage in the Dark can be considered as the character mentioned above and she found it difficult to have such things to treat her at par with men.

It is important to note that attempting to engage in an act of pluralisation that demonstrates ‘new critical geography’ of cultures in the wake of the post-colonial climate demands the understanding of racial mixture in Britain and the transactions between them. When Creoles and third world women are not able to understand the above mentioned racial mixture in Britain and how it responds to them, it will be difficult to gain identity. It is because, the the post-colonial atmosphere is not conducive to feministic attitude as demanded by Rhys and her heroines but that provides equal opportunities to gain identity in future. Hence, third world women should understand that the identity and equality depend on social standards and the post-colonial climate helps in gaining them. However, the period of Rhys stay in Britain is the one that witnessed the migration of people from third world countries to Britain to relieve labour shortage. Hence, Creoles from countries like Caribbean who are brought up in poverty are viewed as the ones who lack identity and individuality. As a result, it can be termed that the links they have with men in Britain will be fluid and not long lasting.

As the historical background of Creole women like Rhys and other third world women as well as the culture is different from that of Britain, the men in that country may not accept these women as equal ones in immediate period after the end of colonialism. As the the post-colonial period is full of sensibility between languages, cultures, histories that both partial and whole are fragmented and transformative. In the above mentioned atmosphere, the identity of third world women cannot be equal to the men in Britain and they may not display their individuality. As the the post-colonial period mentioned by Rhys is at the cusp of several interconnecting worlds the notions of home and abroad will be in the minds of native people and it is difficult for them to feel that the home of Creole women is Britain. However, as Rhys wants that identity of being Britain her home, the clash between thoughts starts and can deny the identity demanded by Rhys and her heroines. Consequently, they can find it difficult to compete with local men and women in Britain as there is no emotional fillip or outlet for them other than their family (Nasta, Sushiela, Pages 14-40). 35

Home and Abroad

While thinking emotionally, the meaning and perception of home may be different in view of Creole as well as third world women and Britain men and women. Third world women like Rhys when they present in their home country (or country of their origin), their thoughts about Britain as their home will be ambiguous. When they reach Britain and start living they understand that the reality is composed of absent things. The reason is that the literature of third world women will be different from that of the natives as they lived in imagination before they come to Britain. When they come in touch with reality, there may be a necessity to link their experiences in Britain to those of in their homeland due to the systematic diversity. Rhys novels are the ones that hybridize, reshape and deliberately misappropriate the situations (Page 240). 36

It can be understood that Rhys wrote the stores that are local but as the experiences of Creole women with British men, thus implying that the life of Creole women lacks identity in Britain in the post-colonial period. Rhys novels share a preoccupation exhibiting a desire regarding identity and equality with men. However, they are more feministic rather than being aesthetic. However, one cannot deny the aesthetic sense, when Rhys describes her Caribbean domain in her novels as the native or the origin of her heroines. The important aspect in Rhys writings is that they are not driven by English authors as they do not establish English man as a hero in her novels. Instead of that she tried to establish the transformation of Creole as well as a third world woman being a part of the the post-colonial Britain. Moreover, Rhys novels can be considered as fictions that put the experiences of Creoles and third world women in the post-colonial Britain as the inherent aspect in them is regarding identity as a women and individuality as a person. As she is not a Britain or Protestant, the crucial interrelationship is regarding creative texts based on self experience of her (Nasta, Sushiela, Page 240-243).37

Life in the post-colonial Britain as well as in Europe

As the self experiences, creative texts and interrelationships are considered, Rhys novels can be viewed as life stories that express desires as well as ambitions of third world as well as Creole women in Europe. The narratives of Rhys can be termed as an autobiographical format that extended reconstruction of life according to her desires. However, Rhys manipulated the chronologies of her life in the novels by establishing her protagonists as the ones who are Creoles that find difficult to assimilate themselves in Britain as well as European atmosphere in the post-colonial period. The proliferation of Rhys stories can be considered as life histories of Creole or third world women that imply the participants and readers. Smith, Sidonie (1992), quotes Lion heart Gal and Old Wives’ Tales that refract multiple lives sharing a common experience. While considering Rhys stories and her experiences in the above context, it can be understood that the experiences of Creole and third world women are common and that can be known by the popularity for Rhys stories and novels. The narration of Rhys expresses the struggle of Creole women.

The narration of Rhys is about relationships of a Creole women vying for an identity equal to European men and her experiences of their exploitation. The commitment of Rhys that made her and other Creole women’s experiences public in the form of stories and novels exposed the unfriendly nature of the post-colonial climate in Britain and Europe for third-world women. The expression of individual life experiences in various ways in an interaction with the post-colonial societies of Britain and other countries in Europe, defines the ideological positions of feminists like Rhys. In her narrations, Rhys illustrated specific issues of Creole and third world women in Britain and Europe that deny identity due to differences in culture and background of women. However, the denial of identity also depends on the nature of women, who demand a different attitude from men towards her. The important aspect about women in Rhys’s stories is about their inability to deal with men when the relationship is outside the family considering their male partner as an equal to her. In reading the above aspect in Rhys’s stories, even fellow women do not find the protagonists of Rhys dependable or reasonable. It can be understood from the responses of elderly women who gave shelter to Anna when she brings her male friends to her room and moves with them with no restrictions. Rhys narrates the story in the first person and identifies her heroines based on a culture different from that of Britain and Europe.

In that narration in the first person, the life story will be conveyed to readers as an unabashed presentation of the interview. In her narration, the protagonist responds to readers regarding her experiences in society particularly with males. When the expectations of the protagonist in Rhys’s novels contradict reality, they try to sever relations with men or try to befriend other males. Rhys tries to express the above aspect as the quest for equality and identity regarding societal life as well as sex and career. However, all the protagonists of Rhys are denied the above-mentioned equal rights in sex, career, and social life by both men and women. Even Rhys revealed that her stepmother’s expressions about Rhys nature that has the possibility of making her life miserable. Moreover, the narration of Rhys is nearer to the autobiographical nature of expression and yet times chronological. The interrogation of life stories contributes to autobiographical theory and defines the boundaries between orality and writing. Rhys’s narration of stories in her novels indicates that the novels are the personal stories revealed by female agencies.

Rhys identifies the essential bonding between women and men as well as the breakup of bonds between them in the backdrop of equality and identity. Though women are able to do things done by men, they do not have equal rights regarding decisions as well as the relation between them. The storytelling of Rhys exists in multiple forms that are necessarily locked in identity and equality for women in the post-colonial society of Britain and other countries of Europe. As the aspects and views of Rhys and her protagonists are noncanonical, the expression though creative did not earn her protagonists a family as well as societal life with dignity. In most of the stories of Rhys, men in the life of her protagonists do not recognize the aesthetic sense present in them. As a result, they view heroines of Rhys as well as their views in consumerist attitude that results in commercial relationships rather than emotional ones. As the nature of heroines of Rhys is not conventional, the restrictions of society on women do not bother them and the result of neglecting the society results in miseries and betrayal in the hands of men. 38

The difference in Relationship of Mother-Daughter and Others

The issues, which are above the experiences of betrayal and depression lead to the interweave trauma and whiteness theories. Moreover, the existing strands of race and gender and issues of class can bind as well as separate mother-daughter relationships can also be crucial in the discussion of this paper as the relations also matter in getting identity and being individual. According to Burrows Victoria (2004), the relationships between mother and daughter as well as the other relationships are important to connect the discussion to gendered and raced power differentials (Burrows Victoria, Page 11).39

According to her, the central theme that is base for all the relations should hold firm and if so, both family and social relations can be maintained without being depressed or falling down. However, we observe that Rhys heroines in a depressed state due to a lack of family relationships. The social relationships that are constrained by family relationships give identity to women and that is absent in Rhys heroines who show their quest for monetary benefits and sexual pleasures. The obstructions in social relationships due to family relations can be termed as strength and that helps an individual particularly women to be aware of attitudes of men who exchange monetary benefits for sexual pleasures and break the relationship when they are no more interested in that woman. The restrictions the family relationships offer will bind a woman to her own history both individual and collective and then the socio-cultural and maternal genealogies take shape with female subjectivity. Jean Rhys’s stories depict the situation of a woman in the absence of the above-mentioned relationships. However, the above-mentioned relationships result in good consequences, when they arise from mutual bonding, nurturing, and reciprocity, and intersubjective empathy.

If they arise from aggression and hate the social relationships dominate over family ones and result in depression and downfall of a woman or any individual. As the concern is about women in this paper, the fate of women in the absence of family relationships or family relationships with aggression and hate like in the life of Jean Rhys and her heroines arise. As the heroines of Rhys do not have dynamic mother-daughter relationships, the other relationships did not result in a stable companionship between them and men. Hence, the dynamic of all woman-to-woman relationships; the mother-daughter relationship is capable of making other relationships stable with men. The problem with studying or analyzing relationships is that even the mother-daughter relationship is embedded in socio-cultural and racial context and as a result, Rhys did not express that in a positive context in her novels. One more aspect to ignore the mother-daughter relationship is that the feminists like Jean Rhys did not identify that the mothering experiences differ with race and class due to the differences in culture and the society they live in.

As Jean Rhys was brought into the Caribbean society and is living in European Society in the post-colonial period, the cultural differences due to race and class resulted in not recognizing the importance of mother-daughter relationship. Consequently, her novels and stories depicted only the extra family social relationships of a woman and the dire consequences of them in her life. Instead of theorizing of motherhood, Rhys tried to establish the lack of equality and identity for third world women in the post-colonial European Society. As a result, the different experiences of mothers belonging to different classes and races did not matter in the feminist writings of Rhys. The aspect that the gender differences are falsely separated from issues of race, resulted in an emphasis on gender and sexual difference in social relationships of women in the post-colonial society. Being white can have a privilege in the post-colonial society, resulted in ignoring or neglecting mother-daughter relationships as a basis for social relationships of women barring race and class differences. Burrows Victoria (2004) quotes Gayatri Spivak’s suggestion of multiplicity of contradictions that occur in complex mixing of race and gender differences (Burrows Victoria, 13). 40

Even Jean Rhys used the above-mentioned differences to explain the fall of a woman who tried to get comforts and money from relationships regarding race and gender differences. Burrows Victoria (2004) also quotes Grosz’s subject of differentiated bodies that proposes that everybody is marked by the history and specificity of existence (Page 13).

As a body is a marker of race and history, the heroines of Rhys faced that discrimination as well as the one due to gender. Hence, according to the above theory, third-world women have to face discrimination regarding gender along with race and that may affect their social relationships badly in the absence of family relationships like mother-daughter, as in the case of heroines of Rhys (Burrows, Victoria, Pages 11-15).41

Ambivalence in Wide Sargasso Sea

The ambivalence regarding social relations of third-world and Creole women in post-colonial Europe is due to the plantocracy in their country of origin. In this context, Burrows Victoria (2003) quotes about Rhys heroines, who are Creoles from the Caribbean and are elite white there but are considered poor in the post-colonial Britain and other countries of Europe (Burrows Victoria, Page 25).

As Creole women expect the same treatment for them as they got in their origin country, the reality as a contrast to that makes them vulnerable to betrayal and as a result depression and loneliness. The reason is that the Creole and third world women are neither imperially white nor Dominican black and are at the doorway of radical historical change, which is known as the post-colonial era. That means the Creole and third world women like heroines of Rhys are at cultural stagnation as they are prepared to understand that they are living in a society of different cultures than theirs. The loneliness and betrayal feeling is due to the fact that they move with men and women with their own cultural feelings in mind, but they are not received in the same manner.

Burrows Victoria quotes “The white hush between two sentences”, The above quote indicates the sign of the child, Jean Rhys that floats between cultural divide. Hence, the visit to Britain by Jean Rhys and her heroines should match with their imagination but in reality, it is different and that made them uncomfortable with men and women in the post-colonial European society. Consequently, the women like heroines of Rhys experienced traumatic ambivalences of personal, psychic history to the wider disjunctions of political existence. The important factor in the writings of Jean Rhys especially in Wide Sargasso Sea is regarding cultural entrapment, but the writer does not express that fact directly. However, she depicts the problems regarding the cultural entrapment of the protagonist in the post-colonial European society due to the failure of seeing the dream society, when the heroine resides in her country of origin. The lack of the image she has about Britain and Europe the post-colonial society and the absence of identity and equality brings out the un-belonging position of white Creole caught between racially divergent cultures. As a result, Rhys and her heroines expected the equality and elite treatment they had in their country of origin in post-colonial Britain and Europe but failed to get it. That resulted in psychological dislocation that resulted in separation from the society they live.

The depression and loneliness due to the psychological separation resulted in melancholia that is capable of making a human fall from their intellectual heights. That resulted in suppression in the voice of women who faced cultural differences in the post-colonial society without a family identification. The heroines of Rhys cry for their motherland but cannot go there even though they are not able to live in the post-colonial European society. The reason is that they are searching for the dream image they had for Britain while they were in their country of origin and try to search for it within the ambit of personal and physical comforts as well as sexual pleasures. The mother-daughter relationship can be fragmented and they dispossess each other in the atmosphere of racial hatred and cultural differences. That is capable of beginning the ambivalence of whiteness in Creole women and other third-world women being ambivalent about their culture. Unless the above-mentioned women recognize their position and culture of the post-colonial society, they cannot express their intellect and character in a way that can gain identity and equality. The ambivalence can be due to the difference of ideologies of colonizer and colonized, which is viewed as the relationship between oppressors and oppressed. As long as Rhys and her heroines as well as other third-world women consider them as oppressed in post-colonial Britain or other European countries, it is not possible to display their intellectual activities and character in a positive way that can gain identity and equality regarding gender and race by giving the opportunities regarding their career.

As the above-mentioned aspect is absent in Rhys and her heroines, they did not get enough recognition in their lifetime though they can be considered as intellectuals according to the standards of the post-colonial society. As Rhys personally positioned the character Antoinette and as a result it can be understood as the experiences of a woman from the third world, which can provide a depth understanding of the post-colonial society. However, the role of ambivalence in third-world women cannot be ruled out for their failure or problems in the post-colonial European societies. The uncertainty results in trauma for a woman who does not understand the cultural attributes in the minds of men they interact with. As a result, third-world women face problems due to terrifying consciousness, which is a result of terror in their minds due to the non-adjustable culture they face in the men they meet. The weakening of the mother-daughter relationship can be a cause for the terror due to the difference in cultures they are the experience and the culture they face. The above fact can be understood as cultural ambivalence and can be termed as the one that paves way for separation from society. The important aspect in the case of heroines of Rhys is that they have faced cultural and racial discrimination between the black majority also in their country of origin. Being whites they dream about the atmosphere in post-colonial Britain and other European countries.

However, they faced unexpected cultural differences in Britain as they have to face prosperous Protestants and being poor catholic compared them, naturally, the post-colonial men in Britain viewed the women like heroines of Rhys as the pretty ones but not as intelligent personalities. In Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys describes ambivalence in the mother-daughter relationship between Annette Cosway Mason and Antoinette. Due to the ambivalence mixed with the political and social instability due to the change of power in England, the blacks treated whites in the Caribbean with vengeance due to their past experiences with them. As a result, Creole women had a fascination with white-dominated Britain and other European countries. However, in contrast to their dreams, the cultural differences in Britain and other European countries resulted in a situation for third world women that left them with no home country or a culture that embraces them. The same aspect can also be true with other third-world women who come to England with no racial or cultural discrimination in mind (Burrows, Victoria, Page 25-35).42

A Wholesome nature of mother-daughter Relationship

According to cultural discrimination mentioned in the above chapters, the daughter relationship in Wide Sargasso Sea of Jean Rhys cannot be considered as wholesome as the novel confronts a colonial culture that cannot be reproduced. As a result, the protagonist in Wide Sargasso Sea experiences inadequacy in the mother-daughter bond (Alexander, Simone A. James, Page 90).43

The inadequacy is also due to the individual and innovative nature of heroine, who does not listen to the mother as she talks about family relationships that are necessary for the social mingling of a woman. However, it can be termed as a mother’s inability to bond a daughter as well as the daughter’s inadequate knowledge about recognizing the importance of the mother-daughter relationship and listening to the mother. Rhys indirectly talks about the imposition of a foreign culture or colonial culture that prevents bonding and identification between mother and daughter. Though the inability to bond daughter to mother can be considered as a cultural aspect, one cannot say that it is due to the colonial culture. The cultural gap that existed in Caribbean society at the period of the end of colonialism might have resulted in embracing the culture of Britain residing in Caribbean society and that is capable of making the protagonist of Wide Sargasso Sea to be ambivalent with aspects of the mother-daughter relationship as well as social relationships that depend on family relationships and bonding. The inability of women like the ones of heroines of Rhys who cannot identify the importance of family relationships in maintaining social relationships cannot be identified or can get equality as the men they interact with value family relationships.

The important aspect that results in failure of social relationships is a denial of mother and mothering by an individual that may result in the inability to perceive the reflection of mother’s love in mind. The lack of reflection of the mother’s love in the mind of the protagonist results in alienation from society in the presence of interaction with men. Consequently, it results in depression as none of the men with whom the protagonist interacts do not respond to her in a respectful manner and instead of that, they view the protagonist as a pretty woman than an intellectual individual. The absence of intellectual identity can affect the daily life as well as the career of a woman that can spoil social as well as the family life and the same thing happened in the case of the protagonist in Wide Sargasso Sea. Alexander Simon A. James (2001) poses the question that whether colonised self can ever achieve wholeness or not (Alexander, Simone A. James, Page 91).44

The basis for fragmentation of society according to race and gender might be inherently linked to colonization and the immediate period after colonization resulted in subjects of the colonial period facing racial and gender differences due to differences in culture. The Creole women and other third-world women cannot adjust to the racial and gender aspects of Britain without family bonding or relationships between mother and daughter. The heroines of Rhys suffer from separation from their husband as well as the loss of a child and to mitigate that suffering they again depend on men that results in losing identity and sacrificing equality. Hence, at the end of the relationship, the protagonists of Rhys feel the impact of racial as well as gender discrimination that results in depression and loneliness. Though they are capable of having excellent social relationships they fail to achieve family relationships simultaneously with social interactions. As their perception of culture, identity and equality let them get only one relationship at a time, the women like the heroines or Rhys normally neglect the family relationships that the post-colonial societies normally do not accept (Alexander, Simone A. James, Pages 89-94).45

Perceptions of Creole Women about Colonial Culture and Their Place in That

While talking about the perceptions of Creole women about the post-colonial society, it is important to talk about Sharpe Jenny’s (1993) revelations of Jean Rhys about Jane Eyre as a child. She does not accept Jane Eyre’s thoughts that think Creole women as lunatics (Page 41).

When Jane Eyre has been pictured as a lunatic in post-colonial Britain, Rhys tried to explain her mentality in the backdrop of Caribbean culture and tried to shatter the spectacle of the death of a Creole woman by fracturing with fragments of Caribbean past. The important fact is that Rhys explained the suicidal tendency of Creole and third world women is due to a lack of acceptance of them in post-colonial Britain as their perceptions differ from the society they live in. Sharpe Jenny (1993) talks about gender as a category that can displace the binary nature of colonizer and colonize, but the discrimination on basis of gender can stop the displacement of binary nature in the post-colonial society. The differences due to race, class, and gender bring out fragmentations in the post-colonial European societies instead of making them a part of the community. As Rhys concentrated on identity and equality with her heroines she is not able to discuss or analyze the difference or dislocation of Creole and third world women in the post-colonial societies. Hence, an analysis that is capable of understanding the differences and dislocations on the basis of race and gender can make the system conducive in the future for all sections of society irrespective of gender and racial bias. However, through the discussion in the paper, it can be understood that the post-colonial European society is not conducive for Creole as well as the third world women, as their cultural perspectives about identity and equality, differ from those of natives in the society (Sharpe, Jenny, Page 41-45).46


The discussion in the paper concludes that Rhys feminism is the quest for identity at par with men in the post-colonial British society as well as other European countries. Moreover, she wants equal status with men irrespective of family relationships, as the family relationship may hamper the career or the identity of a woman. Moreover, the mother-daughter relationship in the case of Rhys and her heroines is a failure and as an overall view gives the perception that the Creole women or other third-world women may not find it easy to cope up with the British society or in any other European country. The Important aspect in the above perception is the cultural differences between Creole women and British society as well as the third world women and British society. The cultural differences make them the situation difficult to get an identity that is equal to British men and women as there is no equal basis for opportunities and recognition.

However, the problems due to cultural differences can be minimized when there are good family relationships to face the social relationships boldly. One of the relationships is the mother-daughter relationship and the other is the relationship between husband, wife, and children. Rhys and her heroines did not have those relationships in a satisfactory manner and that leads to depression and loneliness that in turn made them interact with men for sexual pleasures as well as monetary benefits and other physical comforts. As this leads to dependence on others, finally they are left with no compassion as well as recognition. Hence, it can be understood that the lack of identity and equality due to cultural differences can cope up with family relationships mixed with good social interactions in the case of Creole as well as third world women, to be a part of British society. Unless the above condition is met, they may find it difficult or may find themselves depressed and alone in pursuance of identity and equality.

Works Cited

Angier, Carole. Jean Rhys: Life and Work. Boston, USA: Little, Brown and Company, 1991.

Alexander, Simone A. James. Mother Imagery in the Novels of Afro-Caribbean Women. Columbia, MO, USA: University of Missouri Press, 2001.

Answers.com. Jean Rhys. 2009, Web.

Burrows, Victoria. Whiteness and Trauma: The Mother-Daughter Know in the Fiction of Jean Rhys, Jamaica Kincaid and Toni Morrison. Gordonsville, VA, USA: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Emma, Review on Jean Rhys Books. Web.

Helen Carr. Jean Rhys: West Indian Intellectual. in ‘West Indian Intellectuals in Britain’. Ed. Schwarz, Bill. Manchester, GBR: Manchester University Press, 2003.

Hoving, Isabel (Author). In Praise of New Travellers: Reading Caribbean Migrant Women Writers. Palo Alto, CA, USA: Stanford University Press, 2001.

Incurable Logophilia. Review on Good Morning Midnight, incurablelogophilia.wordpress.com, Web.

Jean Rhys. Wide Sargasso Sea. Texas, USA: University of Texas, 1966.

Jean Rhys. Voyage in the Dark. Virginia, USA: University of Virginia, 1934.

Jean Rhys. Good Morning Midnight. England, Britain: Penguin, 1939.

Jill Owens. Review on Good Morning Midnight. powells.com, Web.

Moran, Patricia (Author). Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, and the Aesthetics of Trauma. Gordonsville, VA, USA: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Nasta, Susheila (Author). Home Truths: Fictions of the South Asian Diaspora in Britain. Gordonsville, VA, USA: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

Reyes, Angelita Dianne (Author). Mothering Across Cultures: the post-colonial Representations. Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

Savory, Elaine (Author). Jean Rhys. Port Chester, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Schwarz, Bill (Editor). West Indian Intellectuals in Britain. Manchester, GBR: Manchester University Press, 2003.

Sharpe, Jenny. Allegories of Empire: The Figure of Woman in The Colonial Text. Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.

Simpson, Anne B. (Author). Territories of the Psyche: The Fiction of Jean Rhys. Gordonsville, VA, USA: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Smith, Sidonie, De-Colonizing the Subject: The Politics of Gender in Women’s Autobiography. Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press, 1992.

Varadharajan, Asha (Author). Exotic Parodies: Subjectivity in Adorno, Said, and Spivak. Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press, 1995.


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