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SUMMARIES WITH NOTES

PART TWO - SECTION TWO

Summary

Here the man remembered how well he acted his part while courting Antoinette. During this brief time he felt he was able to fool everyone except the black servants. After the wedding, which he barely remembered, he felt that perhaps he had fooled no one and wondered why people seemed to either pity or ridicule him.

He also recalled that the day before the wedding Antoinette had refused to marry him, saying she was afraid of what might happen. Richard Mason, Antoinette’s stepbrother, was quite upset. Not wishing to be made a fool, the man reassured Antoinette that she should trust him.


Notes

In this short section, the reader’s suspicion that the marriage is the result of a business deal rather than a romance is validated. It is also confirmed that Richard Mason is the one who exerted the financial pressure that made the man go through with the wedding. Antoinette merely yielded to the wishes of the men, hiding behind silence and expecting that she would never have happiness.

PART TWO - SECTION THREE

Summary

Antoinette’s husband awakened to dine with Antoinette. The dining room was lit with candles and Antoinette was dressed beautifully. Her beauty intoxicated him. As they dined, moths and beetles flew into the candle flames and burned. They talked about England and the West Indies, each thinking that the other’s world was not reality. Antoinette told him a story about when she was a little girl and she woke to find rats staring at her. She had gone outside to sleep in the moonlight, but was scolded for this by the superstitious Christophine. She asks her husband if he, too, thinks that she has “slept too long in the moonlight”.

The next morning they woke together. Christophine brought them breakfast in bed. The man complained to Antoinette about Christophine’s manner, but Antoinette explained that it was the island way. Watching the petals fall from a rose on the breakfast tray prompted him to comment that beautiful things have short lives.

He became taken with the beauty of Granbois and the beauty of his wife. He noticed the servant’s quick, sideways glances, but they disturbed him only momentarily. He and Antoinette spent happy weeks together, making love on the long afternoons. Soon Antoinette was as eager for sex as he and “more lost and drowned afterwards.” At night, however, Antoinette spoke of death. She told him that she was not used to happiness and that he could kill her simply by telling her to die. They were both experiencing a physical and emotional freedom; however he still thought of her as a stranger and felt no love, only lust. She fed into his lust.

Notes

Several of the man’s descriptions in this section begin to refer indirectly to Antoinette’s mental instability. The moths and beetles in flames repeat Coco’s fate and foreshadow, once again, Bertha’s demise. Being “too long in the moonlight” implies Antoinette’s craziness. The short life of the beautiful rose parallels her fragile state. Even Antoinette’s eagerness toward sex would have been considered crazy in the 1800’s.

The powerful sensuousness of the tropical setting overtakes the man. The home and comfort of Granbois allow Antoinette to feel free. This combination confuses reality for both characters. They are experiencing savage desire. For him, words and actions express emotion but his true feelings are only physical. For Antoinette, words and actions are sensual but her true needs are emotional, expressed only in the cover of night. He finally realizes this as he says, “Desire, Hatred, Life, Death came very close in the darkness.” The word “die” is used in this section as a metaphor for orgasm, and also to foreshadow Antoinette’s impending spiritual death.

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