Why is Annie afraid of the dead in Annie John?

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In Annie John, Annie is afraid of the dead because she believes that they can show up anywhere and haunt the living until the living person dies, too. She says that "everyone" she knows feels the same way and that her mother has known "many people who had died in such a way." This is enough confirmation for a young child to believe in the veracity of such an idea.

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Annie is afraid of the dead because, as she says, "we never could tell when they might show up again." She says in the first chapter that everyone she knows is afraid of the dead for this very reason.

Annie reports that the dead could show up in the dream of a living person, and this is not so terrible, because one wakes up from a dream and because the dead person is usually just bringing a warning of some kind. However, it is also possible, she says, that a dead person could simply show up standing under a tree as you go past and follow you home. Then, they might wait for you outside your house and follow you wherever you go, and "they would never give up until you joined them." She claims that her mother knows many people who died in this way.

For a young child, this idea would be quite frightening, I'm sure. Also, the fact that many adults agree that such things are possible would give strength to Annie's fear. Finally, to ten-year-old Annie, her mother is the most perfect and wonderful person on earth, and so for her mother to validate the idea that a dead person could return and haunt the living until the living died as a result would be confirmation of its truthfulness.

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