Annie John

Summary

Chapter Four: The Red Girl

Summary Chapter Four: The Red Girl

While Annie's mother represents the dominant social order, her story of the fig and the snake evokes the magical realm of Antiguan folklore. The story almost gets Annie to confess, because Annie feels overcome with emotion when she envisions a black snake on her mother's head. The story reminds Annie of her Antiguan connection to her mother and of their need for joint unity to ward off such powerful figures as threatening black snakes. Furthermore, the story also contains a slight warning by Annie's mother, a woman who is more able to manipulate obeah, the local witchcraft, than her daughter. When Annie hears the treachery in her mother's tone, however, she refuses to tell her anything. Annie remembers that she and her mother are fighting a battle between the dominant and the rebellious class and she refuses to yield.

The form of this chapter continues in the episodic style that characterizes the others. The close of the chapter however, suggests that the sequences in it take place before many of the events in the previous chapter. At the very end, Annie mentions that she stops playing marbles because the Red Girl moved away and because she started to menstruate. Since the act of menstruation was already fully described in Chapter Three, it seems that the events of Chapter Four must have taken place before some of the events of Chapter Three. This lack of continuity in time highlights the fact that the novel has been constructed as a series of connected episodes that link together with Annie's powerful voice, but not necessarily as a tightly constructed novel would. As this discrepancy with times suggests, the sequences does not necessarily proceed in chronological time.