Annie John

Sea Symbolism in 'Annie John' College

As a Caribbean author, Jamaica Kincaid submerges Annie John, the novel, in rich sea symbolism. Living on the island of Antigua, and with Dominican parentage, the novel Annie John is immersed in deep, sea imagery, in which the author connects Annie John’s insular origins with the themes of (i) birth-rebirth (ii) childhood (iii) journey and immigration (iv) history (v) mother and motherland and (vi) separation-death As a terrific mass of water, the sea evokes images of the womb, the West Indian navigation of Christopher Columbus in conquest of New World gold, the horrendous Middle Passage during the period of Chattel Slavery, consequent colonialism, and contemporary immigration. From the times of our ancestors to modernity, the seas have moulded life in diverse ways.

Jamaica Kincaid portrays the sea as the medium of birth and rebirth. The human foetus playfully swims in amniotic fluid, a natural water environment, in its mother’s uterus until delivery. This water in the womb nourishes the unborn during the 9-month incubatory period, completely surrounded by a life-giving essence. In the same way for Annie John, from birth, she is enclosed in the blue Caribbean Sea. One of her favourite pastimes as a child includes naked...

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