Annie John Themes

Annie John Themes

Relationship Between Mother and Daughter

The mother-daughter relationship is the major theme of Annie John. Kincaid actively portrays this through Annie's inability to fully realize that she is her own individual person, which leads to much tension and many difficulties. When girls are young, they are drawn to the idea of being close to, if not tied directly to, their mothers, which Kincaid describes through Annie. The girls in the book befriend one another to seemingly make up for the lack of maternal relationship, or the fact that it is continuously disappearing as they get older. As Annie gets older, she is torn between love and hatred for her mother, which leads to another dilemma of being both a good student and a disobedient child.

Gender Relations

Annie's father is a prime example of unequal gender relations in Antigua, as he is about 30 years older than his wife. He had numerous sexual encounters before he met and married Annie's mother, and the women whom he was involved with are known to harass her mother on the street when they see her. The behaviors that are expected of men and women in Antigua are vastly different: Annie's father provides for the family, while her mother takes care of both domestic and sexual needs.

Colonial Education

The colonization of Antigua plays an important role in the backstory of Annie John. The book takes place in the 1950s, which means it took place during the colonial period. The schools that Annie attends contribute to the discussion of this colonial period, and Kincaid mentions literature, culture and history as educational topics within the schools. The girls that attend these schools dress in formal British style, and the schools teach the students not to question the history and social constructs that are being taught to them.

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