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Cultural Conflicts In Wide Sargasso Sea

1546 words - 7 pages

1Cultural Conflicts in Wide Sargasso SeaTayo's experience returning to New Mexico after World War II and Rochester's presence in the Caribbean are excellent examples of characters being torn between being an outsider and being a welcome member of society. Both Tayo as well as Rochester experience being torn from their own cultures. Tayo going to war separates him from his culture while Rochester's going to the Caribbean to find a wife pulls him out of his British culture. Rejection by their families plays a central role in making Tayo and Rochester feel estranged. Dealing with their masculinity is also a problem in both characters stories. Tayo and Rochester both lack a true father figure ...view middle of the document...

Having agreed to an arranged marriage, Rochester goes to the Caribbean to marry Antoinette. Upon his arrival, Rochester is extremely overwhelmed by the colors and smells of the Caribbean which over stimulate his senses. Rochester finds himself in a new world that is much different than anything he is used to. Rochester has a very elitist attitude while in Granbois and keeps himself unnamed so he is able to judge others and name them as he pleases. A good way to perceive Rochester's views is that they "are identified as a reflection of the European systems of imperial control" (Mardonrossian 81). These cultural difficulties leave both parties feeling isolated and suppressed.Rochester and Tayo, having faced obstacles in assimilating themselves into the culture, resolve these conflicts in contrasting ways. Rochester uses his power to pass judgment as he re-names Antoinette "Bertha" and "Marionette", mocking her for her doll like qualities. Having been faced with theses hardships Rochester deals with it by dehumanizing Antoinette to the point he says: "I too can wait-for the day when she is only a memory to be avoided, locked away, and like all memories a legend" (Rhys 103), foreshadowing to when he moves her to England and locks her up in the attic. Tayo, on the other hand, deals with his adversity in a much better manner. Tayo goes to get help from the Indian medicine men Ku'oosh and Betonie who perform ceremonies and rituals that help him to survive. These ceremonies also benefit Tayo by giving him knowledge and power so that eventually, he will be able to protect himself. Tayo is restored in the end by coming to find out that "she had always loved him, she had never left him; she had always been there" (Silko 256), which shows that he was never alone as he thought he was and that by accepting his true identity he is restored.Rochester and Tayo similarly feel rejection by their families in dissimilar ways. Rochester feels abandoned by his family because of being the youngest son in the family and legally inherits nothing from his father because of "none of the furtive shabby manoeuvres of a younger son" (Rhys 41) which refer to the laws governing inheritance in England. Tayo experiences abandonment by his family also. Tayo's mother was wandering between giving up her Indian beliefs for the attraction of the white culture even though it did not accept her. She gets pregnant by a white man and when Tayo is four, she leaves him with his uncle Josiah to be raised. Growing up in this household Auntie stresses that " Rocky is: object of pride, full-blood, wanted, given advantages, can leave, clean-cut, all-American, oriented toward white culture, dead; Tayo is: object of shame, half-breed, unwanted, deprived of advantages, must stay, drinking, irresponsible Indian, avoids white ancestry, alive" (Swan 5) which shows that Auntie treats the two boys differently. She might pretend to treat them the same but it is only temporary when people are around. Tayo...

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