Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid Book Review
“I would kill my mother if I had the courage” (Kincaid 89). Have you ever had the feeling that your persona has changed, transformed possibly? Maybe it was when you were going through puberty or just growing up in general. In Annie John, written by Jamaica Kincaid, Annie is a ten-year-old girl who lives with her mother and father on Antigua’s island. At the beginning of the novel, Annie and her mother are closely bonded, as with many mothers and daughters. Annie gets sent to a school that teaches her how to be a lady. At this school, she falls in love with The Red Girl. Throughout the novel, Annie and her mother’s relationship changes dramatically. The two’s relationship changed through the concept of water. Everything that changes revolves back to water used as a symbol of transformation.
Taking baths with her mother was a normal thing for Annie when she was young. The reader can tell this because Annie says, “My mother and I often took a bath together. Sometimes it was just a plain bath, which didn’t take very long. Other times, it was a special bath in which the barks and flowers of many different trees, together with all sorts of oils, were boiled in the same large cauldron. We would then sit in this bath in a darkened room with a strange-smelling candle burning away” (Kincaid pg. 14). The reader can accumulate that bathing with her mother was an essential thing in the beginning. The more Annie aged, bathing with her mother was becoming less and less of a thing. The author shows this by Annie and her mother not doing everything together. The first step of Annie’s transition is through her and her mother not bathing together. The baths were one way that water is at use as an idea of transformation in the novel. Another way is at the end of the book when Annie is leaving home.
The fear of leaving home is a very normal thing. However, imagine if it was something semi-forced on us and what if we had to leave at a young age, 17 perse. Well, this is what Annie went through. At the age of 17, Annie was sent off to nursing school, leaving Antigua’s island to England. The event was a significant change for Annie, considering she has never been away from her mother. Throughout this experience, Annie has a lot of fears and hopes, thoughts, and emotions. However, something her mother says throws Annie for a loop. “It doesn’t matter what you do or where you go, I’ll always be your mother and this will always be your home” (Kincaid pg. #). Further along, Annie expresses more when Annie says, “She waved back just as wildly, and we continued this until she became just a dot in the matchbox sized launch swallowed up in the big blue sea” (Kincaid pg. 147-148). Annie going away on the boat is showing her transitioning into her new life. Atlas, Annie is released away from her mother and father. Annie John is starting her new life.
As seen through reading my essay, everything changes through water, starting with as little as bathing and ending with Annie John going away on the water to transition into her new life. There are apparent changes mentally to Annie throughout her life. Something I learned throughout the novel was how important our families are, but especially our mothers. Also, how much we grow through life and have challenging things that we do. What are the challenges that life has served you? Is it similar to Annie in any way?