Annie John

by: Jamaica Kincaid

Chapter Eight: A Walk to the Jetty

Summary Chapter Eight: A Walk to the Jetty

Annie walk through town with her parents again reinforces her ambiguous feelings about her departure. In every sight, she sees her past. But Annie wants to be free from a place where everyone assumes that they know her history. In leaving her familial ground, she will be able to carve out new possibilities. Annie's desire to redefine her history according to her own terms is an emotion shared by many colonial people whose history and identities were frequently defined by those who colonized them. Annie has been trained with a sound colonial education, but she leaves the island with clothing and jewelry blessed by a local obeah woman. Upon reaching England, she will be able to redefine herself as she sees fit without the dictates of others around her.

The sea again takes on a symbolic role in this chapter. When Annie first reaches the jetty, she fears falling through it into the blue-green water where the blue-green eels dwell. After a near panic at the concept of separation, she stills herself as she heads out to the boat and sees the clear crystalline ocean around her. With this view, the water appears to once again be a purifying liquid that will transform Annie as it carries her on her way to England. The final phrases of the novel use imagery that suggest the boat as another means of childbirth. Just as she left the salty amniotic fluid of her mother's womb, so too will the salt water of the ocean take her in a symbolic second birth to a new life separate from her mother's body. Annie's final moments with her mother are genuinely poignant, but as Annie departs it seems entirely correct that she should be going. She is a separate person and has finally accepted it. Through her symbolic voyage across the ocean, she will be born again and will come to begin anew in the new country of England.