Annie John

by: Jamaica Kincaid

Annie John

Annie John is the narrator and central character in the novel, who therefore dominates the text. Because she is the narrator, everything that the reader hears and sees is filtered through her voice. Likewise, the depiction of her self and of all the other characters comes as she wills it. As it most evident through her depiction of her mother, her description of what actually happens often takes place with a highly subjective perspective. Although just a growing girl, Annie is a complex figure. In her early youth, she struggles fiercely against the idea 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 bitterness and hatred. At the same time, as she grows into her 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 Annie should become. Annie manages to evade these definitions and develop a uniquely dual consciousness by both her abilities and her insolence. On the one hand, her ability to adhere to the colonial order allows her to become the best student in the class who is made the class prefect and later promoted several grades above her level. On the other hand, she keeps up her feisty spirit by being rambunctious outside the classroom. She entertains the other girls with dirty songs, becomes a thief and a liar, and even an expert in marbles. While some of these activities carry a dishonest taint, they all prove crucial to Annie's personal development in a colonial atmosphere that tries to define who it thinks that she is. Annie's attitude often carries a certain arrogance, especially toward the end of the book where she believes many of the other characters to lack the necessary spirit, like Gwen, however even her defiance and arrogance seem understandable, since they are the tools that allowed her to thrive in a colonial environment that sought to define who she is.