Mariah in Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy

Jamaica Kincaid's novel, Lucy, revolves, in large part, around the immigration and acclimation experiences of the title character, who has left her small Caribbean island to forge a new life in New York City. Yet there is another female in this novel's cast of characters who is equally important to the development of the plot, and that person is Mariah, Lucy's employer. Mariah comes to represent a range of symbolic figures for Lucy over the course of the novel. Initially Lucy considers her an erudite and accomplished woman who lives an enviably comfortable life. As time passes, however, Lucy sees how Mariah, despite her position of privilege, lacks knowledge about the world beyond her own tiny microcosm and basic life skills. It is through Mariah that Lucy is able to devise a model for the person who she would like to become, and it is also Mariah from whom she must break free in order to become that person. In these ways, then, Mariah is the agent and catalyst for Lucy's development.

On the surface, Mariah appears to have the perfect life. She has a beautiful family, which is comprised of herself, her handsome husband, and their beautiful and charming daughters. Mariah and her husband are also wealthy, which is...

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