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Still, although Annie envies her parents' sexual union, Mrs. John does not seem to neglect her daughter by having sexual relationships with her husband. Because Annie's description of her mother is not believable, there is no way to determine if Mrs. John actually neglected her daughter in her attentions to her husband or not. The Red Girl exists in a world that is very different from Annie's structured one. The Red Girl does not need to bathe, dress, and attend school everyday. Whereas Annie's life is defined by her attention to expected social behavior, the Red Girl's life lies outside of those expectations.
The Red Girl represents the world outside of the British colonial order. The Red Girl does not adhere to the British form of dress or schooling. Without a name, she even seems to exist outside of the British language and code of legal documents. The Red Girl offers Annie a sense of self and of Antigua that Annie is not able to learn about in school.
By spending time with her, Annie learns the possibilities that lie apart from her mother's dominion. The two girls will then live together on an isolated island. Each time colonial ships pass, Annie and the Red Girl will send them confusing symbols so that the ships crash upon the shore.
In this dream, Annie demonstrates her desire to become a person who will subvert the colonial system as she imagines that the Red Girl does.
The ships that they will destroy represent the British Empire and by sending them to their destruction, Annie will defy the colonial system. The presence of the Red Girl plays a crucial role in Annie's development to become an independent person in a colonial country. The difficulties and tensions in this relationship stem from Annie's inability to accept the fact that she is a separate self. Kincaid paints Annie's desire to remain united with her mother as an emotion shared by most girls of her age.
Annie's classmates all commiserate with her essay about her fear of separation. Furthermore, the girls befriend one another in an effort to find substitutes for the maternal love that appears to be dissipating. As Annie ages, she finds herself caught between love and hatred for her mother, which drives her to be both a good student and a disobedient child.
Again, the rationale behind her adolescent rebellion seems to be proffered as an explanation for a general psychological trend rather than merely a specific fictional phenomenon. The dynamics of mother-daughter relationships take up a prominent place in Jamaica Kincaid's work and have frequently appeared in her other novels such as Lucy and The Autobiography of My Mother.
Colonizers and Colonial Education Antigua was colonized by the British until and remained a commonwealth in As Annie John takes place in the s, it remains in the colonial period.
Kincaid explores the colonial relationship particularly through her discussion of the school that Annie attends. It is run as a British institution and all the materials taught in the school deal with English literature, history, and culture. The girls dress in a formal British style and they are discouraged from engaging in local activities, such as calypso dancing in the playground. Annie's musing on the failure of the school to discuss the negative history of slavery and her delight in the imprisonment of Columbus highlight the ways in which the school teaches the students not to question the history and social order that is being handed down to them.
Annie excels in her school, which shows that she has learned all of the skills necessary to prove her intellectual and social worth in the colonial world.
However, her spunky behavior behind the teachers' backs shows that her feisty Antiguan spirit still thrives within. Gender Relations Although Annie's father appears a gentle and reticent man, he serves as a testament to the unequal gender relations in Antigua. Annie's father is about thirty years older than his wife.
He had numerous sexual affairs before marrying Annie's mother and the women with whom he slept frequently harass Annie's mother on the street. Now that he has his married life secured, he provides for the family while his wife takes care of his domestic and sexual needs. While as a man Annie's father could philander, Annie's mother interprets Annie's mere discussion with a group of boys as inappropriate sexual misconduct and calls her a "slut.
Although the women who curse at Annie's mother appear unfriendly, even Kincaid's depiction of them is sympathetic. They, after all, committed the same sexual act as Annie's father, but have been left in the difficult economic position of raising their children without a husband.
Motifs Obeah Obeah is the local spiritual system that relies upon the use of herbs as well as sorcery and spells. Obeah reappears many times in the novel from the way that Mrs. John takes a bath, to the healing of Annie, to the Obeah blessed clothing that Annie wears on her way to England.
Obeah is a powerful part of the native culture that remains, despite the cultural dominion of the British Empire. In particular, Obeah links the Caribbean culture its pre-colonization people, while simultaneously suggesting the blend of Amerindian, African, and European cultures that make up the islands.
Obeah particularly is intimately connected with strong female characters. The male figures in the novel, Annie's father and grandfather, both shun it. Annie's grandmother particularly seems to dwell in a mystical world of obeah that fully defies the logical world of the colonial culture. She arrives and leaves Antigua on days that the ferry does not run, for example. She is the only one to be able to heal Annie, despite the efforts of the obeah woman and the local Doctor.
The existence of obeah in Annie's world demonstrates the power of the local spiritual beliefs to survive, despite the colonial conditions. Water Water reappears through the novel as a powerful natural force that helps to both heal and transform.
Its ability to heal can be seen in the baths that Annie and her mother take at the beginning of the novel. The salt water of the ocean likewise strengthens Annie's kidneys. The rainstorm that persists during Annie's illness cleanses and transforms the island while providing a nourishing environment for her to recover. Finally, the ocean allows for Annie's ultimate rebirth by pushing her on her way toward a new life in England.
Kincaid's use of a powerful natural element as a fictional tool carries an edge of magical realism that is consistent with a Caribbean setting in which magical practices such as obeah play such an important role. Death Annie obsesses over death in her opening chapter and initially, the idea of death portends the possibility of separation that Annie fears.
As the novel continues, the idea of death reappears amongst the tombstones upon which Annie and her classmates usually sit during recess. These tombstones belong to old white people, meaning former colonial slave owners, who once governed Antigua.
The young Antiguan girls now sit on the tombstones and sing dirty songs or show each other their body parts while making inappropriate comments. Here the image of death is placed next to the idea of life and seriousness of these old men's death seems joked upon by the fact that barely teenage girls are primping on their graves. The constant return of the girls and the narrative to the tombstone area testifies to Kincaid's ironic commentary upon the history that these colonial masters represent.
Symbols Annie's mother's trunk Annie's mother trunk and the other trunks in the story symbolize the self. When Annie is a young girl, her favorite pastime involves looking through her mother's trunk. Annie uses the stories about the objects in the trunk to define who she is. At that young age, Annie shares her mother's trunk because she has no separate self of her own.
Annie's mother trunk came all the way with her from Dominica and therefore seems to be the object that contains all the family history. Eventually when Annie decides that she has a separate self, she wants her own trunk. It, in turn, will become her history and a representation of her self, as her mother's was for her. When Annie leaves Antigua for England, she brings her trunk with her.
Her trunk bears a label that reads, "My name is Annie John," a strong affirmation of Annie's new sense of self.
Marbles The first two marbles that Annie receives are given to her by her mother after they arrived free in a package of oats. One is white with blue and the other is white with yellowish brown. Annie thinks that the one with blue represents the oceans, while the one with brown represents the landmasses of the world. In fact, these marbles and the ones that Annie subsequently gathers represent the new world that she is creating for herself.
After receiving her first marbles, Annie goes on to become a marble devotee. She wins marbles from everyone and gathers a small stash. Just as her marble career is getting underway, so too is Annie's world changing as Annie spends hours with the Red Girl, a representative of the non-socialized order.
The time playing marbles will help Annie to see beyond the world that her mother and teachers outline. When Annie's mother furiously searches for Annie's marbles, what she really wants to find is not so much the little balls, but rather the new world that these marbles have opened up for her daughter.
This world is one that defies the common social program and her mother does not want her to have it. The specific use of Paradise Lost for this punishment is apt. The book describes how the angel Lucifer challenged God and was subsequently tossed out of the paradise of heaven into darkness and exile. Annie's current predicament is similar to that of Lucifer's. Annie wants to challenge the dominant power of both her mother, and by association the colonial order, but fears the fate of exile.
The principal's choice of the book also carries an implicit threat, indicating how Annie will be punished if she continues to question the colonial authority that establishes Columbus as a hero. On the other hand, the idea of exile simply compounds Annie's already existent fears about being left all alone.
The concept of a "lost paradise" also seems appropriate in Antigua, an island that may look like paradise but became a virtual hell when the British arrived and set up the institution of slavery. She is spending her summer holiday outside of town since her father, who is a carpenter, is putting a new roof on their house in the city. In the country, the narrator has little to do except play with their pig and watch their ducks, since she likes to eat their eggs.
She can also see a nearby cemetery, but at first does not know what it is. One day her mother explains that the bunch of people are there because someone died and based upon their behavior, it may have been a child. Annie is surprised. She has never known that children died. She is afraid of the dead because they come back and haunt you.
But after her discussion with her mother, she is also fascinated and often stands on the road each day waiting for a funeral procession to pass. When she moves back to town, Annie remains obsessed with death. A girl that she knows, Nalda, gets a fever and dies suddenly in the car on the way to the doctor.
Nalda's mother is too distressed to deal with the body, so Annie's mother cleans up the child and dresses her for the coffin. Annie views her mother's hands suspiciously for a while after the Nalda incident, because she knows that her mother's hands touched a dead person.
Annie brags about Nalda's death to the other kids at school and they all start telling stories about people they heard of who had died One girl at school, Sonia, is slowwitted but Annie likes her, therefore pesters her daily.
One day Annie learns, however, that Sonia's mother, who was with child, died. Because Annie views Sonia as too shameful, being now without a mother, she stops talking to her.
Their neighbor from across the street, Miss Charlotte, just up and died one day as well. She collapsed suddenly in the street and then was dead.
Annie tries to picture Miss Charlotte dead, but cannot. She is fascinated with death and spirits as are the other kids at school. The mother of one girl stopped sucking her thumb after her mother told her she washed the girl's thumb in water that had touched a dead person.
Annie thought that the mother had lied, but it worked anyhow because the dead were scary. Annie's obsession with death drives her to swing by funerals even though she does not know who has died. Usually, she just stands outside the church and watch the grieving family members. One day a hunchbacked girl, who was Annie's age, dies and Annie decides to attend the wake. As soon as school is over, she bolts to the funeral home.
Once inside, Annie walks over to the hunchbacked girl in the open coffin and stares at her for a long time-so long that a line forms behind her. The adults are nice to Annie however since they assume that she knew the girl from school. When Annie gets home, Annie realizes that in her excitement, she forgot to pick up the fish as her mother instructed her to. She lies and says that the fisherman did not go out on the sea that day.
Her mother knows she is lying. The fisherman got so tired of waiting for Annie that he dropped off the fish himself. As her punishment, her mother makes her eat her dinner outside. Her mother kisses her goodnight before sleep anyhow. Analysis The opening chapter of the novel introduces its protagonist, Annie John, as well as the novel's narrative style. The chapter is told through Annie's voice, which although it will mature as she ages, remains consistent for the next seven chapters.
Here the narrator is only ten and her imagery is colorful and descriptive. Kincaid's prose style reveals her heavy use of specific details that conjure colors and textures of her native island. For example, it is not just three fish that Annie forgot to bring home, but three specific fish: an angelfish,; a kanya fish, and a lady doctorfish.
Names of foods and flowers are also mentioned in detail, a specificity that will continue throughout the novel and contribute to its visual richness.
The episodic nature of the novel becomes apparent in this opening chapter. The chapter opens the novel, but could stand on its own as well with no further conclusion. Each of the chapters from Annie John were originally published as separate stories in the New Yorker, although in a slightly different form. Their placement together makes sense because the powerful narrative voice of Annie John connects them. They also proceed roughly in chronological order as she describes her early life.
The specific plot of this chapter is not deeply connected with the overall plot of the book. However, the chapter does serve to develop the main characters that will be further explored in the pages to come and for that reason provides an important introductory role. Specifically in this episode, the ten-year-old Annie becomes obsessed with death.
On the one hand, her obsession arises from the fear of death, on the other hands it is simple curiosity. In the first section of the chapter, Annie learns that children can die.
In the second section, she describes in detail the death of Nalda, whom Annie knew. Annie's description of her fear of death suggests the powerful spiritual beliefs of people on her island, thinking that death or death people could hurt you- as seen with the girl who stops sucking her thumb because it may have touched water that touched a dead person.
While Annie may be afraid of death, her curiosity about it leads her to describe morbid details in a humorous tone. Upon learning that the hunchback died, for example, Annie laments the fact that she never touched the hunch on the girl's back to see it if was hollow.
Likewise, when Annie sees the dead hunchback girl at the funeral parlor, she compares looking at her to looking through a View Master. Annie's not entirely gentle thoughts about a dead person are typical of the voice of a ten year old, which simultaneously adds a comic touch.
The relationship between Annie and her mother starts to be developed in this chapter. Annie's mother is a powerful woman who teaches Annie about death and who even has the powers necessary to prepare a dead girl for the grave.
Annie's fear of her mother's hands touching her after that preparation foreshadows Annie's later dread of her mother's touch as their relationship falls apart. Similarly, Annie's failure to bring home the fish as she was supposed to foreshadows her future disobedience and conflict with her mother.
At the end of this chapter, Annie and her mother still feel tightly connected, however, and despite her promises to do otherwise her mother sends Annie to bed with a kiss. Chapter Two: The Circling Hand Summary When Annie is on holiday from school, she is allowed to sleep in until long after her father goes to work.
Her father always wakes at seven with the church bell, eats the breakfast, jumps in a cold bath, and shaves. Because Annie John is a girl, her mother adds hot water to the bath when it is Annie's turn. Sometimes Annie and her mother take a bath together. John often puts special herbs and flowers in the bath for healing purposes, and fully washes Annie. After their baths, Annie and her mother eat and then head to town. Annie feels proud and important to go shopping with her mother.
John uses good shopping sense and always instructs Annie on how to buy the best products and clothes. On their way home from town, an angry woman occasionally approaches them and curses. Annie's mother always hides her in her skirt at these moments, but despite her efforts, Annie knows that this woman is one of several who hate her mother because they had children with her father but are not married to him.
John usually cooks a sumptuous lunch after they get home and Annie's father returns to eat. As they eat, Annie admires her mother's beauty and notices that her father finds her mother's commentary incredibly funny and always laughs when she talks.
Annie loves her mother very much and believes their life together to be a virtual paradise. John grew up on the island of Dominica but fled home at the age of sixteen for Antigua. She came to Antigua with only a trunk painted yellow and green. Sometimes Annie and her mother look through this trunk and her mother tells stories of the objects within it. Annie knows all these stories, but finds no greater joy than to sit on her mother's lap hearing them all again.
Sometimes Annie starts to worry about people who have no one to love them. Her father, for example, lost both of his parents at a young age because they simply moved away to South America. After they left, he lived with his grandmother until one morning he woke up and found her dead.
Upon her death, he left home. When Annie's father tells her this story, they both cry. Annie feels bad that her father was left all alone and she fears that her own parents will go away like her father's did. She is afraid to be left alone because she loves everything as it is. When she gets to be around twelve, Annie's body starts to mature physically and her mother starts suggesting that Annie might not always live with them. One day, her mother shows her how to fold sheets, but mentions that Annie may want to fold them in a different way when she gets her own home.
Another time while shopping, Annie wants to get fabric with men playing pianos on it, but her mother tells Annie that she is too old to go around looking a younger version of her. Eventually Annie gets the fabric, but whenever she wears the dress she feels resentful.
Her mother also starts stressing that Annie needs to grow into a lady. She sends Annie to a woman who will teach her manners and to a piano teacher, but Annie gets kicked out of both classes for misbehaving. Annie lies about getting kicked out of the manners class, but her mother hears about Annie eating a plum from the piano and turns her back angrily on her daughter.
Annie feels distressed at her mother's anger, but even more at their growing separation. Despite her growing distress at her mother's behavior, Annie remembers that she soon will be attending a new school. She spends considerable time in town getting her books and new uniforms. One day she returns from Sunday school to find her parents making love in bed, with her mother's hand circling on her father's back She feels angry that her parents are not paying attention to her.
When she sees her mother at dinner, she sees her in a totally new way. They have changed. Annie John feels disgusted when she looks at her mother's hands.
She makes a cruel insolent remark to her mother because she is angry. Her mother looks sad and turns away. Annie decides that her relationship with her mother has totally changed, but consoles herself with the knowledge that she will attend school the following Monday and meet Gwen, so all shall be fine.
Analysis This chapter cuts to the heart of the relationship between Annie and her mother. In its opening segments, Annie's depicts her early life as a small paradise in which she and her mother share most moments of her summer vacation. As they bathe together, Annie's body almost becomes that of her mother. The water plays an important symbolic role of purification and revitalization that will continue throughout the novel. They eat breakfast together and shop together in town.
Annie believes that her mother is the smartest and best mother, who also is extraordinarily beautiful. Annie's mother always knows where to buy the best bread, crabs, and fish.
She knows how to wash the laundry and dry it on the large rocks in the yard. She cooks delicious meals at lunch for all three of them. Annie finds her mother to be without fault and assumes that they will always live in total peace with one another. Annie starts to develop fears of separation in the beginning of this chapter.
These fears foreshadow the chapter's later events as well as the subsequent plot of the novel. The story of Annie's father is a story of separation from all loving family members and Annie cries when she hears it because she imagines living alone to be the worst thing in the world.
Annie's father is a kind figure, but it is his absence during the day that makes her special relationship with her mother possible. Annie does not feel a similarly unique unity with her father, although she loves him. Her mother's trunk, like the baths, serves as a symbolic unification of mother and daughter.
Annie loves to hear the stories from the trunk again and again because these stories serve as the foundation of her personal sense of self. Just as she feels at one with her mother's body as the bathe together, so does she feel one with her mother's stories, because at this juncture she lacks a separate self with its own tales so she simply assumes those of her mother.
By the end of the novel, Annie will be forced to see her mother's separateness, as a result of seeing her mother's sexuality. This sexuality first is apparent when her mother and father seem entranced by each other as they eat lunch.
When Annie sees her parents making love, however, she realizes the seriousness of the situation. She has run home to show her mother an award that she won at Sunday school, but no one pays attention to her.
The special unit between her mother and her self has been broken. Her mother is paying more attention to her father than to her, and Annie is jealous. The title of the chapter, "The Circling Hand," references the motion of Mrs. John's hand during this sex scene.
For the second time in the novel, Annie decides that her mother's hands can never touch her again, since they have been so polluted by sex. Annie's anger at being left out of the parental unit leads her to be insolent later that evening in a way that she has never been before.
Her mother looks hurt, but Annie decides that war lines have been drawn. Annie soon will attend school and befriend Gwen and keep their friendship a secret as to get back at her mother. While the sex scene brings final clarity to why Annie resents her mother, Annie's distress at being a separate person has grown throughout the chapter. First Annie's mother has wanted Annie to dress in a way different from her and next she sends her to special courses that will help her develop as her own person.
Annie rebels in these classes because she wants to stop the process of separation, but her rebellion has little effect except taking her mother further away from her by making her angry. The opening sections of the chapter use simple, clear, and childish language that show how much the narrator adores her mother. It is this adoration and her belief in the paradise of her early childhood that will lead to Annie's inability to accept the need to separate from her mother as she grows.
This inability in turn will lead to the rising action in the novel and its ultimate conflict. Chapter Three: Gwen Summary Annie is on her way to attend a new school and feels both excited and nervous at the transition. She visited the school the week before, so she knows her way around when she gets there. Once in homeroom, one of the other girls asks if she is Annie John and comments that they heard she is very smart, which Annie agrees with.
The teacher, Miss Nelson, enters and takes the roll. She tells the girls that they will all be writing an original autobiographical essay that morning that they will read to each other in the afternoon. Annie works all morning until lunch and, in her excitement, dashes back to school right after eating with her parents. The class sits outside under a tree while everyone reads their essays.
Many of the essays deal with dreams of emigration, family members living abroad, or times when friends met members of the British aristocracy. Annie's story describes when she and her mother uses to swim at Rat Island when Annie was young to strengthen Annie's kidneys. Because Annie could not swim, her mother held her as they moved through the water.
One day, Annie started watching some ships passing in the distance and when she turned back around she could not find her mother. Finally, Annie saw that her mother was lying on a rock not too far away.
Annie started jumping and waving, but her mother did not see her and Annie could not swim to reach her. Her mother's separation made Annie weep because she feared that they might never be reunited. When Annie's mother finally reached the shore, she felt surprised at Annie's tears. When Annie explained her fear, her mother said that she would never leave Annie. After the episode, Annie occasionally dreamt of it and sometimes visualized the ocean separating both her mother and father from her. One morning after the dream, Annie told her mother of it and her mother explained again that she would never leave Annie.
Upon finishing the essay, Annie thinks that her classmates were almost touched to tears and that they loved it. Miss Nelson compliments Annie and asks her for a copy of the paper so it can be posted where everyone can read it. Annie reflects that part of the essay contained a slight lie, because when she told her mother about the dream her mother had simply told her not to eat fruit before bed because it was giving her bad dreams.
As they walked back to the classroom, Annie feels proud. A girl named Gwen pinches her arm and gives Annie a black rock that came from the base of a volcano. This moment starts their deep friendship to come. Later the two girls walk home together. Gwen and Annie soon become fully in love with one another and are inseparable. They share all their stories and secrets together. They walk to and from school together everyday. They become a tight pair, just as some of the other girls have become in their school.
Because Annie is the brightest student in the class, the teacher often leaves her in charge if she has to leave the room. Annie always stands up for everyone, though, and this tendency makes her popular. She also is gifted at sports and is slightly mischievous.
The girls frequently sit behind the school in a cluster of tombstones during recess. They sing dirty songs and discuss their soon-to-be growing breasts. One day, Annie starts to menstruate, and is the first girl to do so. Her mother teaches her how to wrap cloth between her legs. As Annie walks to school, she thinks that everyone who looks at her knows that she is bleeding.
During recess, she feels bound by decorum to show off to the other girls as they sit in the tombstone area, but Annie wishes that she were not the first girl to have started.
Later in class, Annie starts visualizing her own blood and faints. The nurse lets Annie rest, but then decides to send her home to her mother. When Annie reaches home, her mother comes forward with concern, but Annie feels only bitterness and anger. Analysis Annie's struggles with her self and her mother continue in this chapter, although another important factor appears: Annie's attendance in school.
School represents the social order that has been constructed by the British colonial power that still governs Antigua. Annie subtly criticizes the English order by commenting on the personal body issues of British people. First she observes that that the headmistress of the school, Miss Moore, who moved to Antigua from England always looks like a dried prune who had been left out in the sun. Second, she notes that English people often smell like fish because they do not wash enough.
Annie will excel in adhering to the standards required by her teachers, the representatives of the British educational order, but her rebelliousness, which is just barely visible in this chapter but will grow, shows the feisty Antiguan spirit that remains underneath.
Annie's essay for school articulates her fear of separation from her mother, which surfaced in the previous chapter. The general admiration of Annie's theme indicates that the other girls of her age group share her emotion.
In Annie's story, water again plays an important symbolic role, as both a transformer and purifier. First, Annie and her mother swim at the beach in order to strength Annie's internal organs. Initially, they swim together with Annie's mother holding her.
This joint movement through recalls the tendency for Annie to bathe with her mother. More importantly, the salty water of the ocean recalls the amniotic fluid of the womb and Annie's bobbing up and down in the water while clinging to her mother suggests a pre-birth state. After Annie's mother separates onto a rock, a stream of this same salty water will now divide them, just as the passing of the amniotic fluid that brought Annie to life rendered them asunder.
In this way, Annie's story carries metaphoric undertones about Annie's pain at being separated from her mother with the act of birth. At the same time, the imagery also foreshadows Annie's future life movement.
As a young girl, Annie feels pained when she sees water dividing her from her mother. As she grows however, Annie will purposely separate herself from her mother with similar water, by moving to England and placing the Atlantic Ocean between them.
Annie will later come to embrace and even desire this separation that she now so bitterly fears. Thus her essay serves as both a commentary upon the inherent separation between mother and daughter, while simultaneously foreshadowing the future.
The title of this chapter, "Gwen," comes from Annie's new friendship with Gwen. But like the chapter before "the Circling Hand," the name does not so much invoke the importance of the object mentioned but rather what that object represents.
Annie does profess to love Gwen, but there is little doubt that Annie uses her friendship with Gwen primarily to compensate for the neglect that she feels from her mother. Since it is becoming clear to Annie that she and her mother may not spend the rest of their lives together, Annie uses Gwen as a substitute. The two share their stories and secrets and plan a life together, but to a large extent the depth of their relationship comes from their psychological need to replace a distancing maternal relationship.
Nor are Gwen and Annie the only ones to create such mollifying bonds. Kincaid points out that most of the other girls find a similar mate to cling to and in doing so, she suggests that Annie's troubles with her mother are not necessarily individual, but rather a natural development of a growing adolescent psyche.
Annie's desire to be popular at school also helps her to satisfy the lack of love that she feels from her mother. Annie's final dismay over her menstruation again highlights her desire not to separate from her mother.
With menstruation, Annie has undeniably become a separate self. Her body has now reached female maturity and she is no longer a child. Annie feels almost morose at the development. Normally, the chance to show other girls something that they have not yet experienced would make her exuberant, but, although she does show them due to decorum, she wishes that she could be a spectator rather than being center stage. Annie is dragging her heels in every way possible as to not be pushed into adulthood, but, as her menstruation indicates, it is a process that she cannot stop.
Perhaps in reaction to her internal stress about the unpreventable arrival of womanhood, she faints in her class. This faint manages to send her back to the comfort of her mother, but although her mother greets her with concern, Annie feels only bitterness. Annie longs for unification with her mother but seems to realize that it is now impossible, so she continues to view her only with anger. Chapter Four: The Red Girl Summary Annie always leaves her house and returns to it by slamming the gate so that her mother can hear when she has come and gone.
Before or after she slams the gate, however, she secretly sneaks under the house where she hides stolen and precious objects. Primarily, these objects are books because Annie cannot bear to part with books she has read, so she steals them and stows them under the house. One day, Annie is throwing a stone at the guava tree trying to knock a fruit down, when the Red Girl comes along. The Red Girl promptly climbs up the tree, something that only boys do, and collects the guava for Annie.
Annie is stunned. Annie has known the Red Girl for many years because Annie's mother long has criticized the way that the Red Girl's mother cares for her. The Red Girl only has to take a bath and comb her hair once a week and she always wears ripped and stained clothing. Annie, who has to take a bath everyday, with her hair combed, shoes shined, and uniform clean, feels somewhat envious of the Red Girl's freedom.
The two girls go to a nearby lighthouse where they are strictly not allowed to play. From the top, they watch the sea and Annie feels ecstatic.
Before leaving, the Red Girl gives Annie three marbles, which Annie decides to hide from her mother. Annie does not tell her about the Red Girl.
Annie then starts playing marbles and finds out that she is good at it. She starts winning other girls' marbles and acquires so many that she hides them under the house.
Soon, Annie maintains a deceptive secret life. After getting home to school, she lies to her mother about having to do some schoolwork outside so that she can play with the Red Girl. Annie even starts stealing small objects from her parents so that she can give the Red Girl presents. Annie hides all of her marbles and other stolen goods under the house. One day, she spends hours winning a beautiful marble to give it to the Red Girl.
As she is climbing out from under the house with it, however, her mother sees her. The mother seizes the marble and demands to know where the others are. She searches furiously under and around the house. She cannot find the marbles, a fact that Annie finds wryly ironic. The mother's quest continues for days. Finally, her mother tells a story about how when she was a girl she once carried a bunch of green figs home on her head for her father.
Annie's mother felt that the figs were very heavy and upon reaching her house, she put them down and a large black snake crawled out of them and into the woods.
Annie feels overcome by love and emotion at the end of the story as she pictures her beautiful mother with a black snake on her head. She decides to tell her mother about the marbles, but when her mother asks in a deceptive tone, Annie immediately denies ever having them. Soon after her mother's quest, Annie stops playing marbles because she starts to menstruate and the Red Girl moved away to Anguilla.
When Annie hears of the Red Girl's departure, she dreams that the Red Girl's ship capsizes, Annie saves her, and together they live on a small island eating wild boars and grapes. When ships pass, the two girls send confusing signals so that the ships crash into the rocks and all the people in them are lost.
Analysis This chapter represents the pinnacle of Annie's rebellion against her mother. Annie meets the Red Girl and adores her because the Red Girl seems to be everything that Annie is not.
The Red Girl's mother lets her run around filthy and ragged, while doing whatever she likes. As Annie spends more time with the Red Girl, she increasingly throws off the rules that she is supposed to follow. She becomes a petty thief. She lies consistently to her mother. She masters marbles, a game her mother deplores. These acts of disobedience are an extension of Annie's anger at her mother. By acting up against her, Annie is taking her revenge upon a mother who insists that they are separate people.
Through her disobedience Annie also draws attention to herself, which might be a further attempt to reclaim a connection with her mother that cannot be captured. Annie's behavior with the Red Girl also is a commentary upon the dominant British colonial structure at the time. The Red Girl effectively stands outside that structure. She does not partake in the colonial education system, therefore does not follow its social order as does Annie.
The Red Girl does not wear clean European style clothing, as Annie does. She lets her hair grow wild and she climbs up trees. She does not behave in the civilized way that Antiguans come to learn from their British masters.
Even the fact that she lacks a proper name and is simply called "Red Girl," a description that could indicate the color of her skin, shows that she stands apart from the governmental system that imposes names and laws upon its subjects. Annie's attempts to be like the Red Girl demonstrates her own desire to throw off the dominant social order imposed by the colonial class and their expectations. Annie's mother, with her propriety and sense of order, appears as this representative of the dominant order, even though she is Antiguan.
The relationship between controlling mother and disobedient daughter parallels the relationship between controlling colonizer and disobedient subjects. In this way, Annie's personal growth and disobedience touch on larger themes of the Antiguan desire for personal articulation within a dominant colonial culture. The final image of the chapter shows Annie and the Red Girl as powerful figures who destroy colonial ships through their manipulation of navigational symbols.
With such a dream, Annie demonstrates her desire to stand firmly beside the Red Girl as a figure who has the ability to subvert the dominant colonial order. While Annie's mother represents the dominant social order, her story of the fig and the snake evokes the magical realm of Antiguan folklore. The story almost gets Annie to confess, because Annie feels overcome with emotion when she envisions a black snake on her mother's head.
The story reminds Annie of her Antiguan connection to her mother and of their need for joint unity to ward off such powerful figures as threatening black snakes. Furthermore, the story also contains a slight warning by Annie's mother, a woman who is more able to manipulate obeah, the local witchcraft, than her daughter. When Annie hears the treachery in her mother's tone, however, she refuses to tell her anything.
Annie remembers that she and her mother are fighting a battle between the dominant and the rebellious class and she refuses to yield. The form of this chapter continues in the episodic style that characterizes the others. The close of the chapter however, suggests that the sequences in it take place before many of the events in the previous chapter. At the very end, Annie mentions that she stops playing marbles because the Red Girl moved away and because she started to menstruate.
Since the act of menstruation was already fully described in Chapter Three, it seems that the events of Chapter Four must have taken place before some of the events of Chapter Three. This lack of continuity in time highlights the fact that the novel has been constructed as a series of connected episodes that link together with Annie's powerful voice, but not necessarily as a tightly constructed novel would.
As this discrepancy with times suggests, the sequences does not necessarily proceed in chronological time. Chapter Five: Columbus in Chains Summary Annie is sitting in her history class when the church bell tolls eleven am. She is the prefect of her class because she always gets the highest grades. Annie finds it slightly ironic that she is the prefect, because she often misbehaves. The girl who is just below Annie in terms of grades, Hilarene, is very boring and dull and never misbehaves.
Their teacher, Miss Edward, is drilling students on events in the history of the West Indies. Ruth, a white girl who comes from England and who is the minister's daughter, gets one of the answers wrong.
Ruth frequently is the dunce of the class, which means that each Monday she has to wear the dunce cap all day long because she did the worst on Friday's quiz. Annie feels bad for Ruth and thinks that Ruth probably does not know the West Indian history because she just arrived from England.
Annie thinks that Ruth must feel constantly ashamed because her ancestors, white people, had owned slaves and every time she looked around Antigua, she must see that. Annie feels glad that she is a descendant of a slave, because she does not feel this guilt. Annie hypothesizes that if Africans found Europe instead of the other way around, Africans would not have enslaved anyone, but just would have commented on how nice Europe was, before turning around and heading home. Annie is bored because she already knows the whole lesson, so she is reading ahead in her history book.
She comes to a page with a picture of Columbus in chains on it. Annie discovers that Columbus, whom she always had learned was illustrious, had been arrested after falling out of favor with the Queen. As a result, he was placed in chains and shipped back to Spain in the bottom of a boat.
Annie likes the idea of Columbus being in chains. She thinks back to a time when her father heard about her grandfather's growing decrepitude and said, "So now the great man can no longer just get up and go. All of a sudden, Miss Edwards is bearing down upon her. Annie reflects briefly that Miss Edwards has never liked her very much. Annie believes that Miss Edwards's dislike stemmed back to a time when she saw Annie making bawdy jokes before the other girls in the tombstone area after school.
The girls had congregated they had spent their recess dancing around the schoolyard while singing calypso songs. This dancing was greatly frowned upon, but the girls loved it and felt so energized that they had later gathered amongst the tombstones.
Miss Edward had found them there and especially accused Annie, whose mother she spoke to directly. Miss Edward is outraged that Annie has defaced her history book, and accuses her of being blasphemous since she has slandered the great man who discovered her island.
Miss Edwards sends her to the principal. Annie feels irritated and looks forward to reaching her house where her mother will cheer her. When she gets there, however, her parents barely look at her since they are deep in conversation. Annie's mother hands her a plate, but Annie does not want to eat the dinner because it appears to be breadfruit, which she hates.
Annie's mother insists that it is just rice, a new kind imported from Belgium. Annie eats it, even though it tastes like breadfruit. After dinner, Annie gets her mother to confess that it truly was breadfruit that she shaped to look like rice. Annie feels a surge of hatred at yet another betrayal. Analysis This chapter directly deals with issues of colonialism and postcolonial culture that have so far been subtly hinted at in the text.
Annie launches into a discussion of the history of slavery in Antigua by discussing Ruth, a blonde haired English girl who recently moved there. Annie senses that Ruth must feel guilty because white people once enslaved black people and everyone knows it. Annie briefly comments upon the irony of colonization when she considers that all the Antiguan school children celebrate England and Queen Victoria's birthday, but really they all know that the British once enslaved them.
Annie finds it ironic, but assumes that the past is the past. She feels bad for Ruth because Ruth, of course, knows less about the West Indies than them. Through the interaction of these two girls, Kincaid provides an individualized perspective upon the dynamics of life in a colonial state. Annie's discussion of colonization goes on as she contemplates Columbus who returned to Spain imprisoned.
Annie feels happy that Columbus was put into chains because he returned to Spain much in the way that slaves were sent to the Americas. The phrase "the great man can go no where" is stuck in her head and so she inscribes it before she is discovered. Her crime almost is beyond belief. Miss Edwards is a representative of the English social order and as a teacher has defined herself according to the rules of this order.
One of the primary rules, of course, is that the discoverer of Antigua, Christopher Columbus, should be honored. Annie's slight of Columbus stands outside of Miss Edwards's system of belief and it is for this reason that she refers to Annie's action as "blasphemous.
That Miss Edwards would use it for someone who criticized Columbus shows that she holds Columbus in almost God-like state reverence. Because Columbus's importance is essential to the colonial system, Annie's act not only criticizes him, but also subverts the whole dominant colonial order.
For this reason, it is a dangerous one for which she must be punished. The principal chooses to punish Annie by trying to reinforce the rules of English cultural dominion over her. The school has long tried to control the culture of the students, for example, by not allowing them to dance calypso at lunchtime, preferring that they read poems or hold polite discussions. In order to strongly re-inscribe English values upon Annie, the principal orders her to copy Milton's Paradise Lost.
Kincaid's choice of Paradise Lost carries an appropriate subtext that relates both to the colonization of Antigua and to Annie's personal life. On the level of colonization, Antigua was a paradise before the British arrived and made it a lost paradise by transforming it into a slave colony. The title of the book that the principal uses for punishment, then, carries a certain irony that even she does not likely understand. In terms of Annie's personal life, the plot of Paradise Lost mirrors the plot of her own.
Paradise Lost tells the story of Lucifer who challenged the dominant authority God and who, for his crimes, was cast out of the paradise of heaven into darkness and eternal exile.
Annie herself is currently in a state of challenging the dominant authority her mother and fears being cast out into exile. The use of Milton's book thus provides a subtle commentary on several levels. The close of the chapter reinforces Annie's sadness and sense of exile from paradise. Although she longs for comforting from her parents, they are too involved with each other to pay her any mind.
Aside from just simply excluding her, Annie feels fully betrayed when she observes that her mother plotted a sneaky scheme to get her to eat breadfruit. Now her mother is not just failing to nourish their relationship but she is actively plotting against Annie.
Annie feels depressed and in exile as the chapter comes to an end. Chapter Six: Somewhere, Belgium Summary Annie is now fifteen and she imagines that she is unhappier than anyone else could possible be. Her unhappiness cannot be traced to a simple factor, but thrives inside like a heavy black ball that is covered with cobwebs. Annie believes that this blackness inside makes everything that she once enjoyed appear sour.
She and her mother now go through the world with two faces. To her father and to their friends, they act pleasant and friendly. Toward each other, though, the truth is apparent. Annie acts hidden and secretive toward her mother. Her mother pays her back by constantly complementing Annie in a way that annoys her. Annie is completely obsessed by her love and revulsion for her mother. She both wishes her dead and doubts that she will be able to survive without her.
Annie starts to have a recurring dream in which she is walking down a road and with each footstep hears her voice saying, "I would kill my mother if I got the chance. My mother would kill me if she got the chance.
In school, Annie has been raised out of her grade because of her abilities. She is now in a class with girls two or three years older than her and she feels out of place. These girls have fully mature bodies and appear very vain. Annie devotes her time to her studies and once again emerges as either the top or second to the top student. Gwen and Annie still walk home together, but Annie knows that something has changed between them.
One day, Gwen suggests that Annie marry Gwen's brother, so that Gwen and Annie will always be together. This idea startles Annie and Gwen's suggestion of it reminds her of how far apart the two girls are.
As Gwen keeps talking, Annie starts to daydream. She decides that she wants to move to Belgium, where Jane Eyre, her favorite character, once traveled. In Belgium, Annie's mother could address letters to her as "Annie John, Somewhere Belgium," because Annie would not say in what city she was. Gwen assumes that Annie's silence means that she agrees with the marriage idea. Annie stops spending so much time with Gwen after the marriage discussion, and even lies about having extra work in order to avoid her.
One day, evading Gwen, Annie walks into town after school. She finds herself in front of a clothing store and sees her reflection in the window. Annie sadly observes that she looks awkward and ugly, and she compares herself to a picture of young Lucifer. Some boys standing nearby start teasing her gently.
Annie knows one of them, Mineu, because they used to play as children. One day when they were children, they acted out the hanging of a legendary murderer and Mineu got stuck in the noose and almost choked. His mother's arrival saved him, but everyone wondered why Annie had not run for help. Another time, Mineu tricked her by getting her to sit naked on a red anthill, where she promptly was stung all over. Annie's mother stood up for Annie then and she and Mineu stopped being friends when Mineu's mother refused to accept Mineu's fault.
As the boys keep laughing at her on the street, Annie walks away. When Annie gets home, her mother appears angry that Annie is late from school. Her mother explains that she was in the clothing store and saw Annie looking in.
She also saw Annie flirting and conducting herself improperly with those boys. After Annie's mother uses the slang word for "slut" numerous times, Annie says "like mother like daughter. As Annie watches her mother walk away, Annie feels that her mother is young and vigorous, while Annie is old and broken. Annie returns to her room depressed and contemplates her mother's old trunk sits under her bed.
Later at dinner, Annie's father asks her what type of furniture he should make her next and Annie asks him to make her a trunk of her own. He agrees to do so.
Analysis Annie's relationship with her mother has completely disintegrated and Annie starts to feel the effects physically. Annie envisions a heavy black ball inside of her body that lends a sour edge to the world around.
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Annie John Item Preview. EMBED for wordpress. Want more? Advanced embedding details, examples, and help! Episodes from the young life of Annie John, aged 10 to 17, as she grows up on the Caribbean Island of Antigua.
WebKey Facts full title ï¿½ Annie John author ï¿½ Jamaica Kincaid type of work ï¿½ Novel genre ï¿½ bildungsroman, Caribbean novel language ï¿½ English time and place written ï¿½ New York . WebJun 30, ï¿½ï¿½ DOWNLOAD NOWï¿½. Annie John is a haunting and provocative story of a young girl growing up on the island of Antigua. A classic coming-of-age story in the . WebAug 18, ï¿½ï¿½ PDF File Size KB EPUB File Size KB [PDF] [EPUB] Annie John Download If you are still wondering how to get free PDF EPUB of book Annie John by .