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Stories of growth: Caribbean Women Writers (3). Individuation through Separation: Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid . Outline. Kincaid About colonialism and Antigua And her mother Annie John “ Circling Hand ” “ A Walk to the Jetty ”. Jamaica Kincaid: Bio (1).

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stories of growth caribbean women writers 3

Stories of growth: Caribbean Women Writers (3)

Individuation through Separation: Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

  • Kincaid
    • About colonialism and Antigua
    • And her mother
  • Annie John
  • “Circling Hand”
  • “A Walk to the Jetty”
jamaica kincaid bio 1
Jamaica Kincaid: Bio (1)
  • Born Elaine Potter Richardson in St. Johns, Antigua in 1949; lived her step-father, mother, and three brothers
  • father: a carpenter and cabinetmaker
  • mother: a homemaker and political activist.
  • Completed her secondary education under the British system
jamaica kincaid bio 2
Jamaica Kincaid: Bio (2)
  • Left Antigua (before its Independence) when she was 17.
  • As the eldest of four, and the only girl, she was apprenticed to a seamstress, then plucked from school, where she was excelling, and sent to the US as an au pair ("really a servant")
  • changed her name to Jamaica Kincaid because her family disapproved of her writing.
  • A lot more blacks than white people;
  • No experience of “freedom apprenticeship” after Emancipation in 1834. “Freedom was immediate but total.” (Murdoch 99)
  • A British colony till 1967.
kincaid on colonialism antigua
Kincaid on Colonialism & Antigua
  • Within the structure of the British educational system imposed upon Antiguans, Kincaid grew to "detest everything about England, except the literature" (Vorda 79).
  • A Small Place: rage at colonialism & the failure of Antigua independence
    • "But nothing can erase my rage . . . for this wrong can never be made right and only the impossible can make me still: can a way be found to make what happened not have happened?"
    • “You distorted or erased my history and glorified your own")
kincaid about her mother
Kincaid about her mother
  • She "should never have had children."
  • “She loves us when we‘re dying - not when we’re thriving because then we don‘t need her.”
  • She favors her sons over Kincaid.
annie john
Annie John
  • One central question:

What makes Annie change her views about her family and esp. her mother?

e.g. pp. 18-19; 136

the circling hand starting questions
“The Circling Hand”: Starting Questions
  • Mother-Daughter Relationship:
    • What kind of gender model does the mother offer Annie? e.g. p. 13-14; 25
    • What role does the father take in this part?
    • What's the significance of the trunk? P. 20
    • What do you think about the mother’s way of teaching Annie?
  • What does the title mean? What “finishes” her happy childhood and love for the family (p. 32).
mother daughter relationship in annie john
Mother-Daughter Relationship in Annie John
  • Major Factors:
  • Caribbean society: a male-dominated society in which the men are allowed to be irresponsible about housework, and enjoy sexual relationships outside marriage.
  • Mother as a social institution to teach her girl to be socialized (= Englishized; lady-like)
the circling hand
“The Circling Hand”
  • 1. The symbiotic stage: (pp. 13-25)

Examples of the daughter’s complete identification with the mother. pp. 13- 19

-- Physical intimacy (bathing); 14

-- protective 14-15

-- Mother’s gender role model: shopping; doing housework [cooking, washing clothes] p. 13-14; 25;

-- admiring the mother 18-19; be like the mother p. 139

-- sharing cloth

-- continuation of identity -- the Trunk P. 20 (the mother’s past + Annie’s sourvenir + story-telling)

the circling hand 1 2
“The Circling Hand” 1-2
  • 1. The symbiotic stage: (pp. 13-25)

-- the father’s role – outsider; has a lot of women;

-- Someone to be sympathized with;

-- Served and mothered by his wife p. 24

“A Walk”

-- builds and makes a lot of things in the house;

-- p. 132 – 35 years older than his wife; sickly

the circling hand 2
“The Circling Hand” (2)
  • 2. Separation: the changes at age 12
  • in Annie’s body p. 25; p. 27
  • her schooling -- p. 29
  • The changes in the mother’s attitudes:
    • The mother’s distanciation: her dresses p. 26; trunk p. 27; differentiation 28-29
    • the mother’s expectations of her:
      • “young lady business” pp. 28-29
      • Housework 29-30
the circling hand 214
“The Circling Hand” (2)
  • Why does the mother do this? Is it necessary for the mother to be so stern?
  • Possible Reasons –
    • The mother’s preoccupation with housework;
    • Her failure to smooth the transition from Annie’s childhood to puberty;
    • Her being influenced by the dominant British values.
the circling hand 3
“The Circling Hand” (3)
  • 3. the primal scene
  • the importance of the circling hand? P. 30
  • What role does the father take after this scene?
  • Context: Annie’s wanting to “reconquer” her mother
the mother s hand
The mother’s hand
  • 1. Mother’s Hands

-- taking care of Annie;

-- doing housework;

 “white, bony, dead, left out in the elements”

mother daughter relationship in annie john examples
Mother-Daughter Relationship in Annie John: Examples
  • “The Circling Hand” -- Forced to separate herself from the mother; sent to be educated, witnessing the parents’ sexual intercourse (primal scene).
  • “Columbus in Chain”: mother turned into a crocodile p. 84
  • being called a slut by her mother after conversing with a boy -- “Well, …like mother like daughter” (p. 102)
annie s independence process
Annie’s independence process
  • Pre-occupation with death;
  • Pre-Oedipal symbiosis with the mother
  • Exploring her own sexuality; Girl friends (Gwen, Red Girl)
  • Resisting British education (“Columbus in Chain”)
  • Fascination for the father (112-13)
  • Illness; grandmother’s (Ma Chess) care-taking -- a substitute for the mother (pp. 125-26)
  • Leaving Antigua
a walk to the jetty starting questions
“A Walk to the Jetty” –Starting Questions
  • Is Annie’s separation from her family and the past inevitable and absolute? e.g. 130-131 “never” 133-34 “for the last time”
    • Is it appropriate for Annie to criticize her parents? Are you sympathetic with her hatred of the mother? Pp. 133
    • What does she reject in leaving the place? Can you relate to her need to leave the place forever? pp. 144-148
a walk to the jetty separation
“A Walk to the Jetty” --separation
  • A. From Mother

(“Circling Hand” 1.different dresses—A’s bitterness and hatred

2. Enforced “lady” education — mother’s disappointment

3.stop kid’s talking---awareness

4.after the turning point—“All that was finished” talk back.)

5.complete separation--- “never to be fooled again” “hypocrite” 147

6. Talk back 136 – mother’s image degraded

a walk to the jetty separation21
“A Walk to the Jetty” --separation
  • A. From Mother
  • 7. On guard against the mother’s love and expectations 147
a walk to the jetty separation 2
“A Walk to the Jetty” –separation (2)

B. From the social norm(and oppression) be a lady  e.g. exploited by Ms Dulcie 138

2.marriage  sexual inequality

3.Gwen p. 137

C. From the past (childhood memory)


2. The community –does not even want to say good-bye 136-37

3. Childhood memory

a walk to the jetty
“A Walk to the Jetty”
  • Contradictorysigns of independence + signs of nostalgia in this chapter?]
  • independence:
    • Name, address,
    • separation: her listing of what she “never wants to see”; joy at not having to see them. pp. 130-132.;
    • her attention at what’s “hers” and what’s on her p. 134-35.
  • Nostalgia and fear:
    • the moment of getting out of bed 133
    • remembering a lot;
  • contradictory feelings at the wharf: 144; 145, 147
walking away from the past memories education and transitional objects
Walking away from the past (memories, education and transitional objects)
  • Ms. Dulcie the seamstress, p. 138
  • first experience of buying things 139
  • saving money
  • interests that she has outgrown: glasses, porcelain dog,
  • library
  •  cannot deny the mother’s good intention in educating her;
  •  do we need to reject things we are no longer interested in or people who are no longer on a par with us?
walking to empty oneself
Walking to Empty Oneself
  • Does not know why it is an absolute departure for her 134
  • Passing through the place as if she were in a dream 143
  • Emptied out at the end