Annie John


Chapter Seven: The Long Rain

Summary Chapter Seven: The Long Rain

Water continues its symbolic role in this chapter. Kincaid mirrors Annie's breakdown with the onset of a three-month deluge of rain. Although the island has suffered from a drought for over a year, this rain will be so forceful that after it ends, the islanders will think that the sea has permanently shifted. In the same way, Annie will be completely different after the disease, after the rain, than she was before. Physically, she will have grown larger. Emotionally, she will be more secure and now prepared to accept her separation and independence from her parents, especially from her mother. The water thus continues to serve a purifying and transforming role, as it has previously done such as with the baths that Annie and her mother used to take. Initially, the sound of the rain adds to her sense of disconnectedness. Yet, by the end the sound of falling rain will have helped to purify and change, and when it stops she will be transformed.

Annie's destruction of her family photographs carries symbolic meaning as well, in which Annie takes revenge against their images for faults owed to her. In her parents' snapshot, for example, the lower half of their bodies disappear which metaphorically indicates that they are no longer able to perform the sexual act that excludes her. In a family wedding photo, only Annie's face remains suggesting the quality of her reality and life as compared to the others. Finally, in her confirmation photo, only the shoes that she forced her mother to buy her remain, which again serve as an act of defiance toward her mother who tried to limit Annie's means of self-expression. Annie's parents see the destruction of the photographs as an indication of her illness, but her destruction of the images serve as a powerful expression of Annie's subconscious angers and desires.

By the end of the chapter, Annie's sense of self has emerged. Annie is healed and changed after her illness, after the storm. She has grown several inches and now towers over everyone. Her attitude has also changed. She begins to think of leaving her island and her family for her own space. She finds the other girls in school inane and uninteresting in their childish gossip. The pain that has subjugated Annie throughout the book has mostly disappeared as the chapter closes. Annie became ill, but by mothering her, Ma Chess made her well again, and now Annie is ready to go on her way.