Lucy has often been interpreted through the dual lenses of postcolonial and feminist criticism. Gary E. Holcomb, for example, sees the novel as endorsing a black transnationalist view, as Lucy refuses to be constrained by "colonial, racist, and transnational values" of either Antigua or the US. Edyta Oczkowicz similarly describes Lucy's learning to tell her own story as an act of self-translation, in which she must create "a new personal 'space'" in which her identity "does not have to be defined by the roles of either colonized or colonzier." 
Critics have also focused on the many intertexts on which the novel draws. Diane Simmons details the way in which the novel draws on John Milton's Paradise Lost and Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, noting that Brontë was Kincaid's favorite author. David Yost observes that Lucy contains many correspondences to another Brontë novel, Villette—including the names of its primary couple (Lucy and Paul), its plot (an au pair adjusting to a foreign culture), its themes (sexual repression of women and self-recreation through art), and its setting (Villette's Paul dies returning from his Caribbean slave plantation)--arguing that Lucy acts a postcolonial reworking of this earlier text. Ian Smith focuses on the scene in which Lucy must memorize Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" at her boarding school, despite having never seen a daffodil in Antigua. Noting that this episode recurs throughout Kincaid's work, Smith asserts that the act here of transcending an oppressive and often-nonsensical British colonial education is emblematic of Kincaid's oeuvre as a whole.