World Literature in English   Wide Sargasso Sea
Obeah, "Obeah Nights" and Christophine
Pin-chia Feng

Zombie in  (larger)
photos of Voodoo rituals
Obeah as a part of Caribbean existence 
a creolized practice of African religions and Christianity (memory of Africa)
  • both negative and positive meanings
--negative: evil magic (esp. for the white colonizers)                                --positive: as a source of rebellion against slavery (ex. Nanny and the Maroons in Jamaican legends)
In WSS, Christophine is an obeah woman (a Nanny figure)
-- Antoinette's fear--imagining the occult objects hidden in the room (p.18)
-- black people's fear of her--Amele (p.61)
-- the love portion (p.82) and the sleep medicine for Antoinette (p.91)

letter to Francis Wyndham (4/14/1964) 

textbook: p.138-9 
Rhys's "writer's cramp" and the help from "Obeah Night" (p. 141-3)--a poem written in the name of Edward Rochester or Raworth--

"I think there were several Antoinettes and Mr Rochesters.  Indeed I am sure. . . .  Mr R.'s name ought to be changed. . . .  In the poem (if it's that) Mr Rochester (or Raworth) consoles himself or justifies himself by saying that his Antoinette runs away after the "Obeah nights"  and that the creature who comes back is not the one who ran away. . .   Antoinette herself comes back but so changed that perhaps she was 'lost Antoinette'¦." (p.140)--zombie 

humfra altar
  Two major scenes of Christophine in WWS
Christophine and Antoinette (p.64-71)
Christophine and Rochester (p.90-7)
Analyze the powerful presence of Christophine.  How does Rhys describe her appearance and her linguistic competence?  What is the significance of the fact that she disappears before the end of the novel?  Gayatri Spivak and Benita Parry have very different view of Christophine.  What is your stand in this argument and why?
Two Quotes about Christophine
Spivak on imperialism: ¡§Christophine is tangential to this narrative.  She cannot be contained by a novel which rewrites a canonical English text within the European novelist tradition in the interest of the white Creole rather than the native.¡¨  (p.246)
Parry on Spivak: ¡§what Spivak¡¦s strategy of reading necessarily blots out is Christophine¡¦s inscription as the native, female, individual Self who defies the demands of the discriminatory discourses impinging on her person.¡¨ (p.248)