By Neta Fudim
Despite the dark and somber mood of the book, this heartfelt novel by Jean Rhys is filled with captivating scenes and colorful characters. Anna is particularly interesting since she’s not the typical heroine. In fact, she’s quite helpless and seems to succumb to her fate without much protest by the end of the novel. That being said, the readers cannot blame her for this apparent lack of desire to overcome the odds. After all, Anna is mostly faced with troubles within the confines of her own mind. She floats between the realms of dream and reality and gradually seems to lose contact with her identity. This is why I chose to use the scene from pages 33 and 34. They perfectly describe this inner dilemma.
This scene embarks right after Anna’s loss of her virginity. She feels quite detached from herself. Often referring to mirrors, she says she suggests she doesn’t trully recognize her own reflection. I tried to use this concept of mirrors and self-identity as inspiration for my piece. At the same time, one of the things I liked the most about the story was the dreamy aesthetic it had and I wanted to include that in my project as well.
After considering all my options, I decided to do a pencil drawing of Anna looking in a mirror. I did it in ordinary pencils and kept the drawing itself in black and white. I think that this colorless theme fits in perfectly with the tone of the novel, especially in this scene. It’s happening during the night and Anna is about to sneak out of the building which makes for a very surreal and dark atmosphere. I chose not to draw in a realistic style because I find that the world and the characters of this book are quite cartoonish. There are many aspects of the environment or physical attributes that are exaggerated. At the same time, Anna’s perception of herself is muddled and unclear and she doesn’t seem to have much control over what she says or how she acts. For example, in this scene, she kisses Walter’s hand and then regrets and questions her actions right away. In order to portray this inner turmoil I played with the perspective and made the reflection larger in size than Anna’s real body. In the same vein, I placed the image diagonally to represent the main character’s confusion and fears as well as her lack of self-esteem. Finally, I put the full drawing on a more vivid background. It is light green and has pink and orange drops coming down from the top which once again mirrors Anna’s unique state of mind.
In conclusion, I think I did succeed in portraying the themes and feelings present in this scene. In hindsight, I mostly focused on Anna’s emotional turmoil and her distorted views of herself. Some of the difficulties I faced were trying to show the sadness and confusion in Anna’s eyes and also finding which style of drawing I wanted to use. After changing ideas multiple times I was happy with the final product. I decided to name my drawing “Lost at Sea” because it’s a good metaphor for how Anna gets lost in her own mind and sucked into the past somewhat separate from the real world.