Lucy seems to take up where Annie John left off, and Lucy seems much like a slightly older, angrier Annie. The novel opens with Lucy’s arrival in New York, where she will care for the four little daughters of Lewis and Mariah.
From the first, Lucy’s affluent new surroundings feel foreign to her. Although she likes the family for whom she works, they call her “the Visitor” because she seems so distant from them. Lucy, though, has divorced herself from her past and has committed herself to her new land and the strange things (such as snow) in it. Mariah promises her that in the spring she will see daffodils, but to Lucy, daffodils are simply the subject of a poem by William Wordsworth that she was once made to memorize in school. The daffodils become an emblem of the British (and American) visions of the world that are irrelevant to a West Indian.
As time passes, the many differences of race, class, and geography between Lucy and Mariah take on added weight. They will never really understand each other. On the train ride to the family’s summer home on the Great Lakes, Lucy sees miles of freshly plowed fields and comments that at least she will not have to do plowing. The remark mystifies Mariah, but Lucy seems to be referring to her awareness of her ancestors in slavery and her consciousness that plowed lands cost someone some hard labor. In fact, although Lucy has come to love Mariah, seeing in her some of her mother, she is also constantly aware that Mariah knows little of the world that produced Lucy.
In her spare time, Lucy has made a friend,...
(The entire section is 657 words.)