Lucy's dream at the end of "Poor Visitor" raises questions about what influences our interpretations of events. What authority do Lewis and Mariah have as interpreters, given that they have studied Freud? Explore different possible interpretations of Lucy's dream and discuss how social and cultural influences might shape these interpretations.
Immediately upon coming to America, Lucy is faced with disillusionment: the landmarks as she sees them are not what she dreamed them to be. Examine Lucy's several disillusionments and explain how they contribute to the formation of Lucy's evolving identity.
When Mariah claims that she has Indian ancestry, Lucy says, "How do you get to be the sort of victor who can claim to be vanquished also?" What assumptions are behind Mariah's statement and Lucy's response? Which characters see themselves as the victor, the vanquished, or both?
How does Lucy experience and deal with fear? You might consider Lucy's comparison of two types of fear when she talks about the devil-possessed girl and the killer in the subway. How does fear interact with Lucy's other emotions and desires?
To what extent does Lucy's relationship with Mariah reproduce her relationship with her mother, and to what extent is this an independent relationship?
Jamaica Kincaid is known for her lyrical prose. Examine how she uses a literary device such as repetition and what effects the device has on the themes of the novel or on the reader.
Men generally have minor, ancillary roles in Kincaid's novels. What roles do men have, especially in relation to women, in this novel?
How did Lucy's childhood experiences shape her later identity?
Storytelling is an important aspect of the orality of Caribbean cultures. How does Kincaid use storytelling in this novel?
How does colonization shape the experience, ideas, and values of the characters and their cultures?