World Literature in English

Jamaica Kincaid

Major Themes
w. map of Antigua
Synopsis of 
Annie John

Works Cited

Related Sites

Issues for Discussion:
Annie John
Annie John--Synopsis
Jamaica Kincaid beautifully delineates hatred and fear, because she knows they are often a step away from love and obsession. At the start of Annie John, her 10-year-old heroine is engulfed in family happiness and safety. Though Annie  loves her father, she is all eyes for her mother. When she is almost 12, however, the idyll ends and she falls into deep disfavor. This inexplicable loss mars both lives, as each grows adept at public falsity and silent betrayal. The pattern is set, and extended: "And now I started a new series of betrayals of people and things I would have sworn only minutes before to die for." In front of Annie's father and the world, "We were politeness and kindness and love and laughter." Alone they are linked in loathing. Annie tries to imagine herself as someone in a book--an orphan or a girl with a wicked stepmother.  The trouble is, she finds, those characters' lives always end happily. Luckily for us, though not perhaps for her alter ego, Kincaid is too truthful a writer to provide such a finale. (from Reviews and Commentary for Annie John, Amazon) 


Major Themes

'Columbus in Chains' from Annie John
Remember "Dan in the Man in the Van" when reading this excerpt.  Here our discussion of colonial education and postcolonial resistance will continue:
  1. How is the narrator related to the pupils (Ruth and Hilarene) and the teachers (esp. Ms. Edward)?
  2. How do you characterize Ms. Edward's way of education?  e.g. pp. 400, 401 of our Reader.
  3. Where do we see the narrator's postcolonial thinking?  Why is Columbus important?
  4. Another interesting issue here is family relationships.  Why is Columbus related to the narrator's grandfather?  How is the narrator related to her own mother?
"A Walk to the Jetty"
 1. Contradictory signs of independence + signs of nostalgia in this chapter? 2. Annie's views of her parents & marriage 4. Walking away from the past (memories, education and transitional objects) Can you relate to her need to leave the place forever?  pp. 144-148
Are you sympathetic with her hatred of the mother?  Pp. 133

Related Sites

    Please read the following two introduction to Kincaid.
    They will help you understand her position and her views of motherhood.