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The Day They Burnt the Books by: Jean Rhys

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by

Jonathan Conejo

on 10 September 2014

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Transcript of The Day They Burnt the Books by: Jean Rhys

The Day They Burnt the Books takes place in the Caribbean and revolves around two characters, the narrator and her best friend, Eddie. The other three characters in the story are Mr. and Mrs. Sawyer, and Mildred. You get to see everything that happens through the narrator's eyes most of it being about Eddie's family and how they live. In the story Mr. Sawyer is abusive towards Mrs. Sawyer they do not have a good marriage due to Mr. Sawyer's habits.
Brief Overview
Phrases
"She put her head in at the door and looked at us, and I knew that she hated the room and hated the books." (454)

"When it was all over everybody said how nice Mrs. Sawyer had looked, walking like a queen behind the coffin and crying her eyeballs out at the right moment." (454)

"And as for Mrs. Sawyer--well, I knew bad temper (I had often seen it), I knew rage, but this was hate." (455)

"But I was very disappointed, because it was in French and seemed dull. Fort Comme La Mort, it was called...." (456)
Questions
What is/are the reason/reasons that Mrs. Sawyer hated the books so much, and did this reason contribute to her being so excited to burn the books?

Do you really believe that Mrs. Sawyer was really upset when Mr. Sawyer dies?

Why did Eddie not cry at his dad's funeral?

What is the significance of the narrator's book title being in French?




Overview (cont.)
Towards the middle of the story Mr. Sawyer dies due to unknown causes. It seems like Mr. Sawyers death was a sign of relief in a sense for Mrs. Sawyer she seems to be more relaxed and at peace after his death. Towards the end of the story Mrs. Sawyer intends to sell and burn all of Mr. Sawyers books which appear to be his prized possessions. The narrator and Eddie manage to save two books. The one Eddie saves results to be too damaged to read and the narrator secures a French book titled Fort Comme La Morte (Strong Like Death).
The Day They Burnt the Books by: Jean Rhys
Full transcript