Where the Red Fern Grows
Common Features in Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows
Final Exam Essay
The movie, “Old Yeller” and the book, “Where the Red Fern Grows” have many similarities and differences. In the book, the main character, Billy, is an only son who has three younger sisters. Billy says “I was well repaid by the love and adoration I saw in the wide blue eyes of my three little sisters” (Rawls 30). But in the movie, the main character, Travis, has only one younger brother, Arliss, and no other siblings. A similarity that Travis has with Billy is that they both have strong determination. In the book, Billy says “I’d save the money. I could sell stuff to the fishermen: crawfish, minnows, and fresh vegetables. In berry season, I could sell all the berries I could pick at my grandfather’s store. I could trap in the winter…There was the way to get those pups- save my money” (Rawls 25). In the film, Travis was determined to take care of Old Yeller, the dog in the film, once Travis was fond of him.
In the beginning of the movie, Travis tells his dad how he wants a horse and not a dog because his last dog was the best dog ever and he doesn’t want a new one. On the other hand, Billy wants two hound dogs right from the start. In the beginning of the second chapter, Billy tells his dad, “I don’t want an old collie dog. I want hounds-coon hounds-and I want two of them” (Rawls 16). Another difference is that when Arliss gets to keep Old Yeller, Travis is not a fan of him at first, but he does end up liking him. Also, as I have just written, the younger brother in the film receives the dog first, whereas in the book, the older brother and only son, gets the dogs, and he also has two dogs, not just one. When Billy first receives his two hounds, he says “Walking down the street toward town, I thought, “Now, maybe the people won’t stare at me when they see what I’ve got. After all, not every boy owns two good hounds”” (Rawls 41). Billy, from the book, also bought his two dogs. Billy tells his grandpa “…I was saving my money so I could buy two hound pups, and I did” (Rawls 28). But in the movie, Old Yeller finds his way on Travis’ family’s property, and the owner of Old Yeller ends up giving him to Travis’ family.
A similarity that I noticed was that all the dogs in both, the film and the book, were very protective. In the book, Old Dan and Little Ann attacked a mountain lion to protect Billy. Billy explains how “Old Dan didn’t wait. Rearing up on his hind legs, he met the lion in the air… The impact of the two bodies threw the lion off balance. Little Ann darted in” (Rawls 193). In the film, Old Yeller tries to protect Travis from a bunch of hogs, and he also attacks a bear to protect Arliss.
Another contrast, yet similarity, is that in the movie, there is a second dog, but it isn’t until about half way that we meet him, and it is a little pup at that. He ends up becoming Arliss’ dog, while Old Yeller becomes Travis’ dog, basically, because Travis ends up liking him. But in the book, there is a consistency with the number of dogs throughout the story that Billy has in his life. Billy started with two dogs, and both dogs die at the end, sadly. Billy complains to his mother how he “…can’t understand. It was bad enough when Old Dan died. Now Little Ann is gone. Both of them gone, just like that” (Rawls 203). In the film, Old Yeller dies at the end also, but then the pup ends up taking his place.
Something that also was very similar, but different in a way, was the location for which the families lived in. They both lived in the country side. But the difference was that the family in the movie lived in Abilene, Texas, and the family in the book lived in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. In the beginning of the book, Billy says how his “…home was in a beautiful valley far back in the rugged Ozarks” (Rawls 17).
Last, but not least, is the death of the dogs in both of the stories. In the book, Old Dan dies from the injuries he gets from fighting the mountain lion to protect Billy. Billy tells his father “… but how can I forget Old Dan? He gave his life for me, that’s what he did-just laid down his life for me” (Rawls 200). Little Ann died from a broken heart, basically, because Old Dan wasn’t alive anymore, and she never knew a life without him. She had given up. Billy finds her at Old Dan’s grave. He says “With her last ounce of strength in her body, she had dragged herself to the grave of Old Dan…I reached out and touched her…My little dog was dead” (Rawls 203). In the movie, Old Yeller dies from getting a disease that he caught when he got injured from attacking the hogs to protect Travis.
There are so many similarities and differences between the two stories that I could write, but it would take up many more pages. These two stories are great stories for young boys, and I would recommend them to anyone, especially “Where the Red Fern Grows”. I have never cried so much from reading a book. But these stories are very good to compare and contrast overall.
Plot Summary Of Wilson Rawls’ Where The Red Fern Grows
Where the Red Fern Grows is a very good book. I would rate this book a 9/10 because it was super interesting but there were a few parts that were very confusing and boring. It was about a boy named Billy and his 2 hunting hounds and his adventures with his beloved dogs living their eventful lives.
Billy is overcome suddenly for a longing for hunting dogs. After working for months to earn 50 dollars to buy 2 dogs he finally orders them with the help of his grandfather. He walks over 50 miles to the nearest city to pick them up. Since that moment, he loved his dogs more than anything. Old Dan and Little Ann, his new dogs, quickly become naturals after barely being trained. Billy and his dogs determination let them become notorious for being the best coon hunters across the land. They had to overcome many challenges while hunting, for example, one evening, Billy and his dogs were trailing a coon across the river when the coon began to push Old Dan down in the freezing cold water. Little Ann went to help but wasn’t strong enough. After the coon escaped, Old Dan was stuck in the mud under water. Billy knew that time was running out and he came up with the most outrageous plan ever, put the lantern handle on a stick to pull Old Dan out of the mud. Just the little bit of extra length from the lantern ended up saving Old Dan. Obstacles like these strengthened the pups and Billy’s relationship.
One day, his grandpa decided to enter him into a coon hunting tournament. Billy, his father, his grandpa, and his pups headed off for 2 days to the campground. The day they arrived, they had a beauty contest. Billy decided to enter Little Ann. With short notice, Billy didn’t have much time to clean her up but he tried his best. The competition went down to 2 dogs, a much bigger hound, and Little Ann. After one final decision, the judges handed Billy a small silver cup for winning.
The hunting tournament had 4 groups go out each night for 5 nights. Billy was the 4th night and captured 4 coons. The next night, another team captured 4 coons as well. The next night Billy and his opponent went out for a tiebreaker. Billy, his family, their judge, and his dogs headed out. After retrieving 2 coons, a heavy snowstorm started up. During this, you could hardly see or hear anything because of the wind. But Old Dan’s determination kept them going. Soon, they couldn’t find the pups and got very worried. Everyone was telling Billy to give up on his dogs but he wouldn’t. Billy prayed for God to give him an idea. Billy suddenly got an idea from Him. They kept firing the Gun for his dogs to know their location. They finally found Little Ann but Old Dan kept the stubborn coon’s trail. Little Ann directed them a few miles to Old Dan and found him barking up a tree. They fired the gun but instead of 1 coon coming out of the tree, 3 coons appeared! They got 2 but 1 got away. After they skinned them, they realised that grandpa wasn’t with them. They searched for at least an hour until they found him lying on the ground with a broken ankle, unconscious. They brought him and the coons back to the camp and found out that the other hunter had only got 2 coons and came in early because of the storm. Billy and his dogs had won. The next morning, he received a gold cup and large amount of cash.
After they got back, Billy and his pups continued to hunt but one night, they caught a trail and treed it. Billy heard a growl and realised that it was a bobcat. He had killed bobcats before and wasn’t too worried. But then he realised something else, the large eyes staring right into his. Immediately he knew it was a mountain lion. He had never fought a mountain lion and knew they were very dangerous so he tried to call back his dogs but they were too determined to get this one. It pounced and the fight began, Old Dan went at it immediately with the help off Little Ann. Billy joined in soon with his axe. The mountain lion shook free of the dogs and dove right at Billy. Billy waited for it to hit but Old Dan jumped in front of him to save his life just in time. Billy soon killed it with his axe. Old Dan was very injured and took him home immediately. Mama tried to keep him alive but his intestines were damaged and he couldn’t stop bleeding. Old Dan took his last breath in front of Billy. He and Little Ann were devastated. Billy soon dug him a grave and buried him up on a hill. After, Little Ann wouldn’t eat and became too weak to walk because of her best friend’s death. 2 days after Old Dan’s death, Billy found Little Ann lifeless laying next to her partner’s grave. There, Billy buried her as well.
Months later, Billy went up to say goodbye to his beloved dogs before they moved to the city and saw a red fern tree growing on the ground above their bodies. There was an ancient legend that the red fern was the most spiritual and honorable natural monument. Billy wasn’t sad anymore now that he knew his dogs caused this miracle.
Analysis Of The Main Themes In Where The Red Fern Grows By Wilson Rawls
In Wilson Rawls novel, Where the Red Fern Grows, several underlying themes construct a timeless, American classic. The themes of determination, love, and sacrifice each come together to impact the audience in an emotional way. In the novel, the author presents a young boy who is determined to own two hound dogs. Additionally, Billy demonstrates love and sacrifice when he is cared for his two beloved dogs. Billy, who is just a small boy, shows a sense of selfless sacrifice and love and exudes a strong sense of determination to obtain the hound dogs. The author shows that through determination, anyone can achieve their goals and persevere.
Determination can be defined as a characteristic of being consistent and not even considering “failing” as an option. The theme of determination, prevalent throughout the novel, began when Billy became interested in hound dogs. Billy was eager to save enough money to purchase the dogs and was willing to work any job he got offered. After two years of hard work, Billy finally saved enough money to buy two hound dogs. Not only was Billy determined to acquire the dogs, he was also determined to show them loyalty and love. “During the dogs’ first hunting trip, a raccoon sprints up and hides in a big sycamore tree”. “Due to the ginormous size of the tree, Billy wanted to give up and forget about the raccoon”. “He then starts to tell his dogs that there’s nothing that can be done; however, he changed his mind when he saw the dog’s sad expression”. These quotes demonstrate how much Billy truly cared for his dogs. He did not want them to put themselves in any type of danger where they could get hurt. In addition to Billy, the dogs also demonstrated determination. Rawls writes, “My hounds made no move to follow. They started whining. Old Dan reared up, placed his front paw on the trunk, and started bawling. Little Ann came to me. She reared up and started licking my hands”. This quote shows that Old Dan and Little Ann were not going to let any obstacles stand in the way of the raccoon.
Another example determination of determination is through Billy’s grandfather. He helps Billy by pushing him along the way. Rawls writes, “’Hello! How are you gettin’ along?’ he boomed. ‘Not so good, Grandpa,’ I said. ‘I don’t think I can cut it down. It’s just too big. I guess I’ll have to give up.’ ‘Give up!’ Grandpa barked. ‘Now I don’t want to hear you say that. No, sir, that’s the last thing I want to hear. Don’t ever start anything you can’t finish’”. To show his dogs and his grandfather his relentless determination, he decided to cut down the big sycamore tree. The author states, “With tears in my eyes, I looked again at the big sycamore. A wave of anger came over me. Gritting my teeth, I said, ‘I don’t care how big you are, I’m not going to let my dogs down. I told them if they put a coon in a tree I would do the rest and I’m going to. I’m going to cut you down. I don’t care if it takes me a whole year’”. Because the dogs witnessed Billy’s determination, they were able to exhibit determination in their lives and actions. Billy is guided by his Grandpa’s advice and willingness to not let him give up, which shows in the novel how determination is a characteristic that has been passed down from generation to generation in the boy’s family. Billy not only shows determination, but he shows a great sense of love.
Billy first showed his immensely strong love for his hounds when they were travelling back from Tahlequah and heard a mountain lion. Billy felt very defensive over his hounds, so he built a fire to keep the mountain lion aw. Rawls writes, “I was ready to die for my dogs” (48). Billy would do anything for his dogs, even if it meant putting his own life in danger. The theme of love was not only exhibited in Billy, but in his family too. Billy and his sisters did not grow up with a lot of opportunities, such as education, so in order for them to have a better life, they were forced to move. Billy’s father worked extremely hard to earn enough money to move him and his family into town, so they can have a chance for a better life. The author writes, “In a sober voice my father said, “Some day you may have to live in town. Your mother and I don’t intend to live in these hills all our lives. It’s no place to raise a family. A man’s children should have an education. They should get out and see the world and meet people’”. Billy’s mom also shows a great amount of care and love for Billy. Rawls states, “Mama said in a low voice, ‘I’ll pray every day and night for that day to come. I don’t want you children to grow up without an education, not even knowing what a bottle of soda pop is, or ever seeing the inside of a schoolhouse. I don’t think I could stand that. I’ll just keep praying and some day the good Lord may answer my prayer’”. His parents exhibited love when they moved houses to provide a better future for their children. They thought not primarily about themselves, but for the good of their children. While the theme of love was portrayed frequently throughout the novel, the theme of sacrifice is similarly shown.
Contributing to the themes of love and determination, the theme of sacrifice is evident throughout the novel by a variety of characters. At the beginning of the novel, Billy is willing to make a big sacrifice. Rawls writes, “After thinking it over, I figured out a way to help. Even though it was a great sacrifice, I told Papa I had decided I didn’t want tow hounds. One would be enough”. The main character realized that he would be putting his family in a rough spot if he asked for two dogs, so he altered his plans to accommodate for his family. This is a big sacrifice taken by such a young child. Billy also sacrifices his time to make sure he gets a raccoon skin in order to train his dogs how to hunt. Rawls writes, “All through that summer and into the late fall the training went on”. Billy could have used his time for himself, but he instead used it to help out Old Dan and Little Ann. Sacrifice is also shown through Billy’s dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, who puts their lives on the line for Billy in a fight against a mountain lion. Rawls writes, “Hearing a noise from the bed, I looked back. The girl pup, hearing the commotion, had gotten up and joined the boy dogs. They were sitting side by side with their bodies stiff and rigid. Their beady little eyes bored into the darkness beyond the cave. The moist tips of their little black noses wiggled and twisted as if trying to catch a scent”. This shows that Billy’s dogs were willing to risk themselves for their owner. Lastly, Billy’s dad helps Billy hunt rather than working around their farm. Rawls states, “The next day Papa had to go to the store. Late that evening I saw him coming back. As fast as I could, I ran to meet him, expecting a sack of candy. Instead he handed me three small steel traps. He showed me how to set them by mashing the spring down with my foot, and how to work the trigger”. Billy’s father cares so much about him that he would sacrifice his time and his opportunities to make money to help Billy with what he loves most, hunting. These examples of selfless sacrifices are what make up each character.
While there are many underlying themes in Where the Red Fern Grows, the themes of determination, love, and sacrifice are the most prominent. Billy, through hard work and determination, eventually owns two hound dogs. It is then that he shows his selfless sacrifice and fervent love for his dogs. Any person who reads this novel can take away 3 important messages: If you are determined and set your mind to a specific goal, you will achieve it, if you love you will receive love back, and sacrifices will lead to a promising outcome.
Review Of The Book Where The Red Fern Grows By Wilson Rawls
Where the Red Fern Grows is a children’s autobiographical fiction novel wrote by Wilson Rawls, published in 1961. The story is about a boy and his two Redbone Coonhounds, whom he saves up for, and trains for hunting. The book takes place in the 1920s in rural Oklahoma, our main character’s childhood home. Our main characters are Billy Colman and his dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann. They face many difficult situations where Billy and his loyal hounds are put to the test.
Our main character is Billy Colman. Billy is heavily based off the early childhood of Wilson Rawls. We meet him when he is an adult, coming back from work and running into a dog fight. He breaks up the dog fight and nurses the one being attacked. It was a redbone coonhound. After he feeds and bathes the dog; he releases the dog back out onto his journey home. After this, Billy starts to tell us about his early life, and how he had a sick case of what he calls “puppy love.” Billy lived on a farm with his parents and his three sisters. They were extremely poor, and Billy wanted two dogs of his own for hunting. When he told his father this, his father told him that hunting dogs were too expensive for them going for around $75 for two hounds. While cleaning an old fishermen camp Billy finds an old magazine talking about selling redbone hounds for $25 each, as a result of this over two years he saves up $50 to buy two redbone hounds. Once he gets these dogs, he names them Old Dan and Little Ann.
Billy’s grandfather buys the dogs for him, telling him they’ll arrive in a week from Kentucky. Billy doesn’t want to wait a whole week, so he goes into town to get them early. While in town he finds a shop where he buys a pair of overalls for his dad and a few yards of cloth for his mother and sisters with leftover money he had because the dogs were marked down to $20 a dog, leaving him $10 leftover. Also, in town he runs into many kids who criticize his appearance and call him mean names because he doesn’t have a proper education and very clearly lives on a farm. He soon gets into a fight with some kids who were making fun of his dogs. Another moment is the first coon he caught. He promised to his dogs that he would do the rest if they chased it into one. Old Dave and Little Ann chased an old coon into a tree, a huge sycamore tree to be exact. Billy concluded to cut down the tree while the coon is inside it, then he can get the coon for his dogs. It took a lot of work, but he eventually did it.
Billy’s grandfather has a wild imagination and gets Billy into many of his adventures. He was constantly bragging about how good Billy and his hounds were, often exaggerating the story, a tiny bit. Soon Ruben Pritchard, a nasty kid ready with insults and ready to fight, and Rainie Pritchard, Ruben’s younger brother. Rainie isn’t the brightest, but he always tries to make bets. Once, the Pritchard’s gets underneath grandpa’s skin and they make a bet. They claim there is a ghost coon nobody has been able to catch. And if Billy’s hounds are as good as they’re claimed to be then they should be able to catch it. While hunting for the coon, once it is cornered and able to be killed, Billy refuses to kill it. He caught it and he didn’t want to murder it. Ruben gets angry and decides he’s going to kill it himself. He grabs Billy’s axe and goes to the coon. Their hound ends up getting loose and going to them. Billy’s hound and their dog get into a bloody fight, Billy having to pull his dogs away and tie them up. Meanwhile Ruben tripped with the axe, making it go through his stomach, paralyzing Rainie with fear. Ruben does not survive. Soon afterwards, to distract Billy, his grandpa signs Billy up for a contest. Billy wins two awards. A silver cup for the best-looking dog. Little Ann won this prize. And he won the gold cup and $300 for getting the most coon pelts.
This story shows themes of determination, maturity, and self-reliance multiple times. I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I liked it because it showed the loyalty and relationship between Billy and his dogs extremely well. He had given them memorable personalities and made them characters I can’t forget. Do I recommend this book? Yes, I do. I recommend this book to my friends. It’s an extremely intriguing story about a boy and his dogs vs. nature.
Reading Reflection On Where The Red Fern Grows By Wilson Rawls
After reading “Where the Red Fern Grows” I thought it was an amazing book. The place where the book took place was in the rugged Ozark mountains in a beautiful valley. That is where he lived in the book. Also, the story has a plentiful amount of scenes in the woods when he is hunting.
The main characters in the story are Billy Coleman, Little Ann, Old Dan, Grandpa, and his parents play a large role in the book as well. The main problem in the story that I think is that Billy wants a pair of Coon Hounds to go hunting with. His parents don’t have the money to do that so he has to spend a substantial amount of time-saving up money from the fishermen that he sells things to. Then once he has the money he has to go on a large treck to get to where he is getting his hounds. There are also some mini-conflicts inside of that. Like when he is so devastated when he finds out how much those dogs are and he stops eating and doesn’t sleep well. He then concludes that problem by saving hard earned money and putting that towards the Coon Hounds.
The Climax of the story is when Billy and his dogs are out hunting one night and they encounter a Mountain Lion. His dogs put up a whopping fight against the lion. They do end up killing the lion but not before Old Dan is severely hurt and Little Ann is hurt too but not as bad as Old Dan. Then Old Dan ends up dead of his wounds. Then because of the bond between the dogs, Little Ann dies of starvation and depression. That is pretty much the climax.
Looking at Billy in the story you can see some big character traits such as his compassionate, loving attitude that he puts towards his dogs. He is also a very determined kid. Some reasonings that prove he is loving and compassionate towards is when on page 226 Billy says, ‘There in the flinty hills of the Ozarks, I fought for the lives of my dogs. I fought with the only weapon I had, the sharp cutting blade of a double-bitted ax.’ As I said before he is a determined kid. Some text evidence that shows he is strong is on page 77 he says ‘it would take days to chop down’ but then after the days, he ended up chopping it down. That to me shows that he is a very determined kid.
For me, this book was one of my favorites. I thought it was full of very strong emotional parts, but also lots of humorous parts as well. I liked how the book showed a close and realistic bond between Billy and the dogs. I also liked that you could picture almost every moment in the book in your mind. That to me keeps me interested in the story. The book also made me think about things more closely. There wasn’t much not to like about the book. Some people might say the ending is too sad but other than that the book was great.
Mirrors and Madness in Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea
Poscolonial narratives and rewritings attempt to deal with minority responses by recovering their untold stories as a result of European colonization (Reavis). This literature addresses the problems and consequences of the decolonization of a country and individual responses to issues of imperialism and racialism. Jean Rhys takes on the task of giving a voice to historically silenced characters in her novel Wide Sargasso Sea, a precursor story to Bronte’s Jane Eyre from the perspective of Mr. Rochester’s mad and seemingly bestial wife Bertha Mason, whose given name is revealed to be Antoinette Cosway. Throughout the novel Rhys employs various symbols to convey the concept of “the other” along with themes of social and cultural identity, entrapment, and ecocriticism to reflect the psyches and experiences of the characters. Rhys uses the concept of mirrors in particular throughout Wide Sargasso Sea to symbolize Antoinette’s double identity, madness, and ultimately deteriorated selfhood under a system of patriarchal oppression.
Mirrors initially play a large part in Antoinette’s chaotic childhood to convey her double identity and fluidity between social groups. In a pivotal scene when the Jamaican natives siege Antoinette’s home at Coulibri Estate, Antoinette uses her passive and poetic rhetoric to describe an otherwise disastrous situation. When she and her family finally get out of their burning home, Antoinette alludes to mirrors as she runs toward her childhood friend Tia: “When I was close I saw the jagged stone in her hand but I did not see her throw it. I did not feel it either, only something wet, running down my face. I looked at her and I saw her face crumple up as she began to cry. We stared at each other, blood on my face, tears on hers. It was as if I saw myself. Like in a looking-glass” (Rhys 45). This scene, fraught with intensity and emotion, serves as an interesting juxtaposition of two different female experiences. Antoinette, a white Creole girl living in Spanish Town, Jamaica in the midst of post slavery illegalization, often refers to herself as a “white cockroach.” Throughout her narrative, she fails to belong to any one social group, as she cannot relate to the black residents of Spanish Town but is also too “exotic” to fit into any component of English culture. Tia serves as her double in a significant way, and as a reflection of Antoinette, she acts out the anger and grief Antoinette ultimately seeks to express but from the other side of the mirror of racial separation. Tia is an image of an identity Antoinette longs to be her own: a black woman with a sense of belonging, not a white Creole woman strung in between any true community. The concept of the looking glass and Tia as a double seems to iterate what Antoinette knows, that she will never find the sense of belonging or identity that she wants for herself.
As Antoinette’s madness develops, mirrors reflect her alienation from any sense of identity. Part Three of the novel is a frightening culmination of Antoinette’s psychosis through seclusion that poses the question of whether her madness is intrinsic or just a consequence of her poisonous treatment and history. Annette, Antoinette’s mother, despite her short appearance in the novel, had a habit of constantly looking for her own reflection in the mirror. Antoinette adopts this part of her mother, perhaps indicating their shared need to be seen in a world that neither invites nor accepts them. When Rochester puts Antoinette in the attic, he further amplifies her madness by making her isolated and disconnected. In rhetoric constantly jumping between the past and present, she describes her mirrorless prison when she says, “There is no looking-glass here and I don’t know what I am like now. I remember watching myself brush my hair and how my eyes looked back at me. The girl I saw was myself yet not quite myself. Long ago when I was a child and very lonely I tried to kiss her. But the glass was between us – hard, cold and misted over with my break” (Rhys 182). Even when Antoinette had access to a mirror, her sense of isolation and alienation from her image demonstrates her general lack of selfhood. As a child, Antoinette tries to kiss her image in the mirror as if to unite the two halves of her cultural identity but is met by the cold glass. By calling her the wrong name and not giving her a mirror, Rochester seeks to erase her most fundamental sense of existence. However, by the time she lives in the Thornfield attic, her madness has become her identity more than anything else. The lack of mirrors and Antoinette’s lifelong desire to close the gap between two cultural identities serve to personify her madness in this passage and accounts for her inability to fully grasp reality.
Finally, mirrors serve as a means to reflect Antoinette’s deteriorated, colonized self as a result of patriarchal oppression. Her identity has experienced an irreversible split, which is evident in Part Three when she escapes from the attic and woefully explores Thornfield. She describes her encounter with a mirror in a dream-like trance: “I went into the hall again with the tall candle in my hand. It was then that I saw her – the ghost. The woman with streaming hair. She was surrounded by a gilt frame but I knew her. I dropped the candle I was carrying and it caught the end of the tablecloth and I saw flames shoot up. As I ran or perhaps floated or flew I called help me Christophine help me and looking behind me I saw that I had been helped” (Rhys 188-189). Rhys illustrates how Antoinette’s identity is so diminished through her oppression and entrapment that when she looks in the mirror in this pivotal and traumatically poetic scene she does not quite recognize her reflection. The use of the mirror itself, an impenetrable wall of separation, represents patriarchal judgment, and Antoinette believes she has seen a ghost-like woman with streaming hair, but she is a stranger to herself and does not recognize her identity as Bertha Mason (Sarvan). Her selfhood has undergone an irreversible split in which she will not recover from. In the same way that Tia was previously her mirror image and “dark double,” Antoinette seeks to destroy Bertha, her other self, and Thornfield, a manifestation of her patriarchal imprisonment.
Rhys uses mirrors throughout Wide Sargasso Sea to embody Antoinette’s double identity, mental break, and deteriorated identity under systematic patriarchal imprisonment. In a conversation with Rochester in Part Two, Antoinette pleads with her husband to listen to her story and consider her side when she says, “There is always the other side, always” (Rhys). In the same way that the mirror acts as third space for Antoinette’s mental deterioration, Wide Sargasso Sea is a third space that allows for the enunciation of the other in which Rhys locates the racial and feminist struggle of Antoinette (Reavis). Apparent through the mirror and an intimate look into Antoinette’s mind, Rhys entraps the reader and creates compassion for a woman whose helplessness through patriarchal oppression is often remarkably familiar.
Reavis, Serena. “”Myself Yet Not Quite Myself”: Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea, and a Third Space of Enunciation.” 2005. University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Document. 4 May 2016.
Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1982. Print. Sarvan, Charles.
“Flight, Entrapment, and Madness in Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea.” International Fiction Review January 1999: 58-65. Journal Article.