By Ilyas Mohamed
The scene from the novel that I’ve decided to work on was the first scene in the second chapter (pages 17 – 22). In this scene, Walter Jeffries took Anna out and kissed her. Everything seemed to go well until the end where Walter decided to kiss her. In the beginning of my project, I worked on the first scene of the novel where Jones and Jeffries approached Maudie and Anna. It was a funny scene. However, I changed idea. I liked the awkwardness in the scene in the second chapter. It was so bizarre and sudden that I found it humoristic in a way. This whole novel is based on the perspective of Anna. Therefore, I decided to see what’s the perspective of Walter. When we, the readers, encountered Walter for the first time in the novel, we would describe him as a cocky, wealthy man with so much pride. Therefore, we would despise him. However, I wanted to create a connection between the reader and Walter and to eradicate the image that we draw of his personality. Thus, my creative assignment was based on Walter’s perspective. Also, another reason that leads me to this project was that by looking at Walter’s perspective, I was analyzing Anna’s personality. Anna seems fragile, naïve and dependent and I wanted to empower her. Anna isn’t powerless. I showed in my project that she has power over Walter. In the scene that I have chosen, I was feeling that Walter was setting a trap for Anna. He was a handsome procurer that was trying to convince Anna to join his business and work as a professional. However, Anna outsmarted Walter in a way and didn’t fall for his trap. He was the one that failed. He didn’t convince Anna but he fell in love with her. That is how I visualized this scene and that’s what inspired me. I wanted to do a poem but it wasn’t the best medium for me to express my work, thus, I wrote. I used the same dialogues between Anna and Walter but ignored some. Between the dialogue, I was analyzing Anna’s personality and physical appearance and I was also analyzing the scene. I did attempt to mimic the style and tone of the novel. In the introduction of the novel, it is mentioned that “Jean Rhys was a writer who distrusted words. She used the fewest and shortest ones she could, as though she were trying not to use words at all: ‘Voyage in the Dark, she said, was written almost entirely in words of one syllable” (vii). Jean Rhys puts a lot of emphasis on feelings and looks. Knowing this I tried to describe Anna using Jean Rhys’ style of writing. I also wrote about how Walter feels. There are many aspects of the character that I used in my work. In the beginning, I described Anna as a naïve and childish woman. She is not aware of what is happening around her. However, at the end, I managed to change this perspective and made her seem intimidating. I believe that Anna has sexual power and she used it to defeat Walter. On the other hand, I described Walter as a predator that only care about himself. He wants Anna to be a professional and work for her. However, there are other factors that influence Walter’s behavior. Usually, in any novel, the narrator is the protagonist. He sees himself as the good and the others are bad. Therefore, I wanted to explain Walter’s choices. I blamed it on his cousin Vincent that is introduced later in the book. Vincent is the one that convinced Walter to be a procurer. That is why I wrote in my work: “Vincent would kill me if he knew that I was outplayed by a potential professional”. It is a way to show that Vincent is the problem and not Walter. To sum up, Vincent’s role in Walter’s life could explain the letter that Anna received later in the book by Vincent. I presume that Vincent discovered Walter’s love for Anna and as a result, he wanted to cut the contact between them. Finally, I didn’t face any major challenge in translating the thematic concerns of the novel to this other medium. The hardest part was describing Anna’s appearance. I believe that my work did succeed in a way, in capturing the spirit of the novel. I draw a scheme trying to relate all past and future event in the novel to this scene so that everything makes sense. Finally, in the end of my work, Anna was gone and Walter was alone and confused. He didn’t know what to do. Therefore, just like Jean Rhys, it took him two glasses of wine to write down a letter to Anna. The reason that I believe he sends her money was to cover what happened. Giving her money was a way to thank her for the service. He treats her as a professional to disguise the love that he feels for her.
“Plummet deep down”
I took Miss Morgan out to one of my brothel near Streatham Railway Station. It was the first brothel-bar that Vincent and I established in the British Capital. Anna was gorgeous. She had dark, silky hair and a narrow face and resembled the famous, astonishing Lady Day that every man dreamt possessing. Anna triggered butterflies all around my stomach. I gazed at her with admiration. Oh, Anna. I couldn’t cease grinning. She was certainly the best woman that I acquired so far.
‘Do you always wear black?’ I said. ‘I remember you were wearing a black dress when I saw you before.’
Anna lifted her glass filled with wine. The wine had a strong odor that reached my nostril. It seemed that it was crooked. Is she aware? I think she’s the childish and reckless type of woman. I called George, my personal waiter, to come and clean this mess. I frowned at him. ‘You oughtn’t to ruin my plan George’. George apologized and went back through the curtains. He returned with a plate of well-cooked fish and a new bottle of Kümmel. I told George to constantly fill Anna’s glass. As soon as he poured wine into her glass, Anna emptied the glass instantaneously. I smiled. ‘You’ll get her drunk eventually’ I deemed. I sought for a new subject to distract her. She would indeed forget the number of glass that she gulped.
‘How’s your friend” I said. Her friend’s name was lost in my thoughts. ‘Maisie?’ I attempted.
‘Maudie’ she corrected me.
Close enough. ‘Yes, Maudie. How’s Maudie?’
‘Oh, she’s all right’ she said. ‘She’s very well.’
I attempted to get more information on her financial and familial situation. I didn’t know much about her. Perhaps, she lodges with her mother or Maudie.
‘Do you always stay at those rooms in Judd Street’ I asked.
‘Room,’ I said, ‘room. There’s only one. No. I’ve never been there before and I don’t like it much’ she replied.
The tone of the conversation was getting somber and dull. Surprisingly, she said the word room twice. Is she wiser than I’ve expected – enough to grasp the trap I was setting? I didn’t reply. I waited for her to drink more. I couldn’t get my eyes off Anna. She was stunning. I shouldn’t be falling in love with her, this meeting was strictly business, but I couldn’t draw my eyes off her beautiful face which was demanding of attention. Anna had a fair, exotic and soft skin that enlighten the room, hazelnut eyes that were framed by long eyelashes, lips that made you want to devour her and a body that utterly dilated your pupils. Words were flying out of her mouth, but my hearing sense was unable to cooperate with my sight. I wanted to bury myself in her and caress her body. No woman made me feel this way – even my beloved wife. I ought to control myself. I was losing myself.
‘So you don’t see much of your stepmother? Does she think you’ve disgraced the family or something?’
Anna glared at me and allowed silence to respond. The image that I had of Anna was gradually degrading. She was standing still looking at me straight into the eyes in a daunting way. She might not be as fragile than I’ve anticipated. I couldn’t direct my gaze toward her. I thought that I would convince her to join my business, but right now I was feeling powerless. George came back and brought in coffee and liqueurs and shut the door. I took a sip of the coffee and my lust for her returned. My eyes were betraying my brain and rationality. I smiled at her and kept on fixing her lips. ‘Anna, you make me feel nice’ I mutter.
‘You’ve got the loveliest teeth’ I said. I looked at her stockings. It reminisced me of my wife. ‘You’re sweet’ I utter. ‘You looked awfully pathetic when you were choosing those horrible stockings so anxiously.’
Lust is a powerful feeling that I always defeated, however, today it has climbed upon me. Anna isn’t my first. I’ve always been the finest procurer in town, nevertheless, Jones believed that it wasn’t the best career. Jones is a faithful man. Men like him don’t go far in life. They are simply puppets that are manipulated by women. But, I was getting trapped by a woman. I felt an urge to kiss Anna. I approached Anna, closed my eyes and kissed her. Her lips were soft. Anna leaned her head backward and got up. She ran toward the closest door. ‘Please, don’t open that door’ I mumbled under my breath. Anna revved the knob. I closed my eyes. What a shame.
‘Oh, it’s a bedroom’ she said.
I didn’t know what to say. No explanation could help me flee this situation. It was done; I underestimated Anna. Anna’s sexual power was stronger than me. I was sweating and my heart was tapping against my shirt. It was getting hot and a stream of thoughts passed through my mind, but none could help me. I was plummeting deep into an abyss. I have encountered love.
‘So it is.’ I replied. I laughed to cover the situation. She laughed and I was relieved. My stomach has loosened and a wave of happiness took over me. Now, the urge to kiss her was stronger than before. I walked toward her and kissed her again. Her lips didn’t feel the same way. It was contracted and firm solid.
‘Look here, let me go’ she said. I backed off and stand there in a state of confusion. How could she tell me what to do? I was feeling demasculinized. I thought power were on my hand but she took control of my feeling – she took control of me.
‘Do you think I was born yesterday, or what?’ she said. I could see the nerves running through her neck as she was yelling and striking these words onto my face. She pushed me away but I was senseless. I was stun and couldn’t believe what was happening. She was screaming but I was unable to distinguish the words floating into my ears. I let her go.
‘I’m very sorry. That was extremely stupid of me’ I said with my eyes closed. I wasn’t able to look at her anymore. She was the powerful voice at this instant. I turned my body and opened my eyes. There was a glass in front of me. I was looking at myself. ‘What is happening to you Walter?’ It was as if I were looking at somebody else. Vincent would kill me if he knew that I was outplayed by a potential professional. I heard a door slam behind me. I turned around and Anna was gone. A feeling of emptiness has arisen in me. ‘This was the end’ I thought. I walked toward the door and pushed it gently. Anna didn’t notice that I was behind her. She was looking at herself in front of a glass. I felt a bond between us, but I scattered this bondage into pieces.
I cowered in front of the door. I needed to get my thoughts together. I got up and sauntered in her direction.
‘Hullo, I thought you’d gone to sleep.’ I said. It was the only thing that came into my mind. I invited her to drink more liquor – thinking, perhaps, I could have a second chance. But she refused. I got her coat and walked her to the door in complete silence. I stopped a taxi and gave the driver some money.
‘Well, good night.’ I said.
‘Good night,’ she replied.
I watched the taxi driving toward the horizon and making a turn in the direction of South London.
I entered back in the brothel-bar and drank the remaining Kummel. I attempted to dismantle my thoughts. George left; I deceived Vincent; I ought to send her guineas. I ambled toward my office and picked up a fountain pen. Words were wandering around my mind but I couldn’t jot down any of them. It took me two bottles of wine to enable me to put my fountain pen into work. I ought to send her guineas. It would give a business context to the situation. She could buy stockings with it. Professionals need to wear stockings. I took the pen and finally scribbled sentences.
‘My dear Anna, I wish I could tell you how sweet you are. I’m worried about you. Will you buy yourself some stocking with this? And don’t look anxious when you are buying them, please. Always yours, Walter Jeffries.’