Themes and Meanings
As was the case with At the Bottom of the River, Kincaid’s first book, Annie John is a novel about the pain and necessity of adolescent rebellion for a young girl growing up in the Caribbean. Annie is presented as a strong-willed, independent child who charts a course for growing up that is largely of her own making. A point that the author seems to want to make, however, is that this individuality comes at the cost of considerable emotional distress.
Annie’s independence of spirit is exhibited early in the novel. Annie’s attraction to funerals as a young girl, besides marking her as a young girl possessed of a fiercely unique spirit, is already a movement away from her parents, in that it denotes a nascent awareness of her own mortality and the need to be, ultimately, separate.
Annie is distressed when she realizes that her mother means for her to begin to assert her own identity. This realization leads Annie to “act up” more, and in ways that her mother frequently cannot abide. To an extent, Annie at first wants to be able to misbehave, but she also wants to receive the maternal approval that she needs. As her mother increasingly withdraws her approval, however, Annie asserts her own personality, though the lack she feels at her mother’s missing support remains painful, and she and her mother become more careful and guarded toward one another. The chapters “The Red Girl,” “Columbus in Chains,” and...
(The entire section is 496 words.)