Annie John was written by Jamaica Kincaid, around 1983, and first published in Great Britain in 1985. It is a story about a girl named Annie John, growing up from the age of ten to seventeen. It is told in the first person narrative. This essay will explore why Annie's maturity was the cause of the termination of her close relationship with her mother.
Mrs. John distanced herself from Annie and Annie also became rebellious. The book ends when Annie leaves for England. She also leaves behind her strained relationship with her mother. This essay traces the gradual degradation of their relationship. The incidents chosen for discussion are on Annie's desire to play with the trunk, her carelessness in laying the bedspread, her doing things differently from her mother, her dream, the name-calling, the physical maturity that alienates Annie from her parents and her final parting from her family.
Annie started experiencing the rift in her relationship when her mother distanced herself from Annie. During her early years, Annie had a dependent relationship with her mother. They did many things together and enjoyed spending time together. For example, they used to enjoy looking at the mementos in their trunk which included clothes that Annie wore from her infanthood. When Annie turned twelve years old, her maturity made her mother cease doing this. When she suggested to her mother to look through the trunk, Mrs. John replied in the negative. Annie wrote that; 'A person I did not recognize answered in a voice I did not recognize, "Absolutely not! You and I don't have time for that anymore."' (Kincaid 27). Mrs. John's refusal changed Annie's close relationship with her mother ceased because she felt shocked, disappointed and hurt when she said that 'the ground wash out from under me.......' (Kincaid 27). Mrs. John decided to wean Annie off from her so she enrolled Annie to learn new things like manners and piano lessons. The narration hinted that Mrs. John was very angry, ashamed and disgusted when Annie was disobedient to her teachers' instructions. Mrs. John often expressed her disapproval of Annie by turning down her mouth. She also said that Annie would have to live in her own house and choose her own ways. She wanted Annie to be prepared for this to happen in the future. The mother and daughter relationship had shifted from its old comfortable ways. Annie did not have the security of living with her mother forever since Mrs. John told her that she expected Annie to grow up and move away. Annie realized this too and this strained her close relationship with mother.
Annie's close relationship with her mother was constrained because she reached maturity. She could fathom her mother's disapproval or resentment and thus deliberately avoided her. For example, when Annie had laid her bedspread in a lopsided way that did not place the embroidery in the centre of her bed. The flower had an intricate design that had to occupy a central position when laid flat out on the bed. Mrs. John made a fuss about this and reprimanded Annie for being careless. Annie agreed with her and was silent because she could have felt alienated and isolated from her mother for displeasing her. She kept out of her mother's way to avoid further confrontation. (Kincaid 30).
Annie's growing maturity made her aim for independence in her relationship with her mother. She thought she could achieve that by being different from her mother or rebellious with her mother. Annie strived to antagonize her by doing things that she could not tolerate. (Kincaid 87). Annie and her mother had become hypocrites and had ...
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