Annie John, Written by Jamaica Kincaid is a coming of age novel focusing on the interaction and relationships between an adolescent, her mother and reality. In the book Annie John, the main character Annie, goes through many experiences as she matures. We first learn about Annie when she is only 10 years old. Annie lives with her mother and father in a Caribbean Island called Antigua. The family spends their summer close by to a cemetery which later fascinates Annie. She is later intrigued by the thought of death and that children her age die as well.
Annie starts to go funeral services which later starts to conflict with her daily routine. Annie first starts showing a change in her demeanor when she has to run an errand for her mother but then lies and says that she was unable to complete it but her mother knew the truth. During the summer Annie and her mother spend a lot of time together. Annie and her mother have a very close relationship. This special relationship then changes and it has a big impact on Annie. Her mother prepares her baths and sometimes joins her. Mrs. John teaches her daughter life skills in town and at the market.
To Annie there is not a more perfect person to admire but her mother. One day Annie feels very betrayed when she observes her mother and father being intimate. Annie struggles with not being apart of their interaction, especially because she feels that her mother neglected their relationship. Later in the novel, Annie starts attending school. Annie is the smartest student in the class. She is both liked by the teachers and the students which leads to her befriending a girl named Gwen. Everyday after school Gwen and Annie walk home from school together.
Annie then decides that there is a chance to try and replace her relationship with Gwen for the one that she used to have with her mother, but then realizes that is not possible. Annie makes another friend; the Red Girl, who has a very different personality and different morals than Annie and her family. Annie’s relationships with Gwen and the Red girl are ways that she has used to deal with the changes with her relationship with her mother. This relationship becomes a way for Annie to rebel against her family, especially her mother. Annie is trying to find her own way to become her own person.
The Red Girl is a tomboy who runs around dirty and scruffy. This is something of which her mother does not approve. Annie really enjoys this difference in family morals. Even though she understands it goes against what her family believes in, Annie decides to start playing marbles which then leads into picking up the negative side of Red Girl. She decides to start stealing and lying daily. One day Annie’s mother finds out about her new personality and starts to search for the things that she has stolen but is unable to, which amuses Annie.
This new Annie starts to die down when Red Girl moves away. After being in trouble at school, Annie heads home only to find more betrayal from her mother. Mrs. John tricks annie into eating Annie’s least favorite food. When Annie is faced with this betrayal she starts to despise her. Annie describes her unhappiness as a “heavy black ball inside her that is covered with cobwebs. ” Annie is unable to connect this unhappiness with anything but it really affects her daily. Even though she is going threw this she manages to keep her grades so far up that she gets to skip a grade.
Even though skipping a grade is always an amazing thing, it affects her relationship with Gwen because she thinks of her as a less fun friend. After school one day, Annie avoids her plans with Gwen and heads into town. Annie is walking through town when a group of boys come over and they start teasing her but she manages to talk to one of them due to previous connections with him through school. This interaction is very negative so Annie heads home only to find out that her mother is very upset with her. Annies mom proceeds on to calling her a slut because of her flirtatious behavior that she witnessed but annie loses her temper.
This causes her mother to say that Annie is no longer her favorite anymore. Annie realizes that something big has come between them Annie later gets very sick after going threw large mental breakdown. Her grandmother comes to treat her when the local doctor cannot be of much help. The treatment her grandmother isn’t necessarily medical treatment it’s more of attention treatment. Towards the end of the story Annie decides to leave Antigua to attend nursing school in England. She is excited to catch a break from her mother.
Because of the unhealthy relationship with her mother, Annie perceives her mother to be a negative person. Throughout the story the reader does understand that her mother is one who honestly does care and who takes pride in what she does. This is especially shown when annie’s mother says that she will not put Annie to bed or give her a kiss when she is not on her best behavior but she later does. Annie’s passionate dislike starts to happen when her mother says that they are starting to be different people. She refuses to accept this comment which then lead to her outgrowth of immaturity