Response Paper to Annie John
Response Paper for Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
Annie John was, in my opinion, as poignant and universal a book dealing with adolescence as I have ever come across. The fact that it was the story of an adolescent girl, and that it took place in Antigua, in a vastly different racial, social, and economic climate than in which I personally grew up in, did nothing to lessen my ability to relate to the universal themes of adolescent growth and conflict. This alone speaks volumes of its author, Jamaica Kincaid, and her ability to express the subtle ambiguities of adolescence, as well as her ability to write a compelling novella in a fresh and unique voice.
Annie John is the central character and narrator of the text. Everything is filtered through her voice as the story takes us from her pre-adolescent years up until she leaves home for the first time at the age of eighteen to attend school overseas. Early on it is east to see the seeds of adolescence in young Annie, even before she begins developing physically, as she is a complex and contemplative young girl. In her early youth she struggles fiercely with the idea and fear of separation from her mother. Her fears about being left alone in the world dominate her early days, and when they are not entirely resolved transform into feelings of bitterness and hatred towards her mother. At the same time as she grows into adolescence she learns to harden herself against efforts to restrict her personal freedom and articulation.
Both Annie¡¯s mother and her teachers have a firm idea of who they think Annie should become. Annie manages to evade these definitions and develop a uniquely dual consciousness by exercising both her intellectual abilities and her insolent, rebellious urges. On the one hand her ability to adhere to the colonial order allows her to become the best student in her class, and made class prefect, and later even promoted several...