Wide Sargasso Sea

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Annette Character Analysis

Antoinette’s mother, Annette is a widow at the start of the novel, sunk into debt after the death of her husband. Her relationship with Antoinette is distant, owing partially to her preoccupation with her sick, mentally handicapped son, Pierre. She marries a rich man, Mr. Mason, in order to save her family from destitution in the wake of Emancipation, and goes mad with grief as a result of the destruction brought about partially by his failure to listen to her warnings about the anger of the black residents at his shows of wealth.

Annette Quotes in Wide Sargasso Sea

The Wide Sargasso Sea quotes below are all either spoken by Annette or refer to Annette . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the W.W. Norton & Company edition of Wide Sargasso Sea published in 1992.
Part 1 Quotes

I was bridesmaid when my mother married Mr. Mason in Spanish Town...their eyes slid away from my hating face. I had heard what all these smooth smiling people said about her when she was not listening and they did not guess I was.

Related Characters: Antoinette Cosway (speaker), Annette , Mr. Mason
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Antoinette watches with horror as her mother remarries (Antoinette's own father has died, leaving the family deep in debt). Anette's new husband is an Englishman named Mr. Mason. Though Anette herself is of French extraction, she seems to be giving in to the social pressure to "become English." Moreover, Antoinette is disgusted by the people she sees at her mother's wedding: she knows very well that most of the English guests there secretly despise Anette for being French and remarrying a Englishman to repair her decaying household. The scene is an important part of Antoinette's coming-of-age, since it shows her becoming even more disillusioned with the artificial ceremonies of life in white Jamaica: to be a part of society is to lie and be hypocritical, and Antoinette can't stand it.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Wide Sargasso Sea quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

You have lived alone far too long, Annette. You imagine enmity which doesn’t exist. Always one extreme or the other. Didn’t you fly at me like a little wild cat when I said nigger. Not nigger, nor even negro. Black people I must say... they’re too damn lazy to be dangerous, I know that.’
‘They are more alive than you are, lazy or not, and they can be dangerous and cruel for reasons you wouldn’t understand.’

Related Characters: Annette (speaker), Mr. Mason (speaker)
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Mr. Mason and his wife, Anette, have an argument. Anette is worried that their black neighbors have become so angry with her family (and Mr. Mason's new, ostentatious show of wealth) that they'll attack the house. Mr. Mason dismisses Annette's worries as "hysterical," and suggests that the black neighbors are too foolish and lazy to plan anything so daring.

The passage is important because there's no real hero or villain in it. Annette's comments about her black neighbors suggests that she sees them as very "alive" but also dangerous and antagonistic. Mr. Mason, by contrast, is incredibly condescending toward black people, insulting them with slurs and dismissing them as childish. Annette is smarter about the ways of the world--she knows that her black neighbors are smart and powerful enough to destroy her--but she continues to regard them as monsters, not people. Annette does, however, show some sympathy for the plight of former slaves in Jamaica--as a longtime resident of the island, she knows about their suffering in ways that Mr. Mason cannot understand.

Part 2 Quotes

But they are white, I am coloured. They are rich, I am poor.

Related Characters: Daniel Cosway (speaker), Antoinette Cosway, Annette , Old Cosway
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Daniel Cosway's reasons for writing the letter to the Husband are clear enough: he's justly upset about being mistreated by Old Cosway and all of society for so long (because he's alienated even from the Cosway family itself because of his mixed race), and having no other avenue that would allow him to get justice, he writes the Husband a letter just to "getting even."

Daniel's complaints about the Cosway family may be well-founded, but Daniel is also clearly an unreliable source, biased by his bitterness and anger. He seems to think of the Husband as a tolerant, understanding man--hence, his decision to write to him and reveal the "truth." As we know by now, the Husband is hardly tolerant to black people at all--on the contrary, he's constantly dismissing them or misunderstanding them.

Justice. I’ve heard the word. It’s a cold word. I tried it out...I wrote it down. i wrote it down several times and always it looked like a damn cold lie to me. There is no justice...My mother whom you all talk about, what justice did she have? My mother sitting in the rocking-chair speaking about dead horses and dead grooms and a black devil kissing her sad mouth.

Related Characters: Antoinette Cosway (speaker), Annette
Page Number: 146-147
Explanation and Analysis:

Antoinette's marriage to the Husband has deteriorated to the point where she refuses to listen to him at all: she's well-aware of his adultery, and doesn't want to listen to his hypocrisies any longer. Here, Antoinette accuses her husband of having sex with his black servants--essentially the same actions for which he criticized the white slaveowners previously. When the Husband claims that the slaveowners' actions were worse than his own, due to issues of justice, Antoinette laughs, claiming that justice is an empty word.

Antoinette's claims about justice reflect her fatalistic view of life, as well as her despairing acceptance of her marriage (and of her mother's tragic fate). Antoinette knows that no amount of socially-approved justice could remedy the pains of her own life--her pains are far subtler and more psychological than any system of justice could "solve." Moreover, notice that Antoinette begins to identify herself with her dead mother: she's now of an age where she can see that she's turning out just like her mother, married to a corrupt adulterer, being coerced into kissing (as Annette was by her abusive caretaker) with her "sad mouth."

Get the entire Wide Sargasso Sea LitChart as a printable PDF.
Wide sargasso sea.pdf.medium

Annette Character Timeline in Wide Sargasso Sea

The timeline below shows where the character Annette appears in Wide Sargasso Sea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
...from white society is a result of disapproval by “the Jamaican ladies” of her mother Annette’s youth, physical beauty, and origins from Martinique. When Antoinette asks her mother why they have... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
Antoinette overhears her mother one day speaking to Mr. Luttrell, a white neighbor and Annette’s only friend. He laments the delayed arrival of the financial compensation that white former slaveowners... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
...a kind of detached moral stance, (“The Lord make no distinction between black and white”), Annette angrily holds him responsible and places him on the side of their hostile neighbors, saying,... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
...only that afterward her mother descends into a depression, and refuses to leave the house. Annette instructs Antoinette repeatedly to leave her alone, and begins to talk to herself, which frightens... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
...Christophine is also from Martinique, and therefore just as isolated in the black community as Annette and Antoinette are among white society. Antoinette describes her distinctly Martinique songs and attire. She... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
...asks her mother about Christophine, it is clear that she is the only servant that Annette still trusts. Annette believes all the others have stayed at Coulibri only “because they wanted... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
...his estate. These visitors laugh at Antoinette’s dirty clothes, causing her to run away and Annette and Christophine to argue about the state of Antoinette’s wardrobe. Annette insists that Antoinette must... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
The rest of the night, Annette does not look at or speak to Antoinette, and Antoinette is sure that her mother... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
Annette remarries, to Mr. Mason, an Englishman. Antoinette, serving as a bridesmaid, regards the English guests... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
Annette is also affected by the new gossip, particularly the constant and increasingly hateful commentary among... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
...they are there to hurt the family, and is greeted with rocks thrown at him. Annette worries about whether to wake the still sleeping Pierre. Even as Mr. Mason tries to... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
...Aunt Cora embraces Antoinette and tells her not to worry, that she is “quite safe,’’ Annette rushes to Pierre’s bedroom to save him, carries him out in her arms. He is... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
As a hysterical Annette is being lead to the carriage, she struggles ferociously to get back into the house... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
One day, Antoinette is taken to visit her mother at the house where Annette is recuperating. Antoinette insists that Christophine go with her, and no one else. When they... (full context)
Part 2
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
...spend their honeymoon in the Windward Islands at Granbois, an estate that had belonged to Annette. They are stopped in a town called Massacre, and it is raining. He and Antoinette,... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
...who eventually went mad, died “raving just like his father before him.” He explains that Annette was left friendless and destitute after Cosway’s death because she is French Creole from Martinique,... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
...Emancipation Act,” the estate at Coulibri went to bush because no one would work for Annette. It describes her as “worthless and spoilt,” and says that the madness latent in her... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
Antoinette tells the husband about her mother. She tells him that after her father’s death Annette was very poor and very lonely, but that her beauty must have given her hope.... (full context)
Otherness and Alienation Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Women and Power Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
...glasses and smashed it, the man told the woman caretaker to clean it up or Annette would walk in it, and the woman replied that if she did it would be... (full context)