Annie John
By: Jamaica Kincaid
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Author Biography:
Elaine Cynthia Potter Richardson, also known as Jamaica Kincaid when she began writing, was born May 25, 1949 in St. Johns , Antigua . Jamaica Kincaid attended government schools in Antigua , and was known as a trouble maker. She says” We were taught to read from Shakespeare and Milton when I was five. They were read to us while we sat under a tree. I thought that all the great writing had been done before 1900. Contemporary writers just didn't exist. . . . I never wanted to be a writer because I didn't know that any such thing existed.(Authors and Artists Jamaica Kincaid)" Growing up Kincaid shows that she never had any intention of becoming a writer, and her family did not support her interest in writing. When she began to write she submitted articles to various magazines and finally two of her pieces were published in 1975.
After having her pieces published Kincaid was invited to a lunch meeting with the editor of the magazine, William Shawn. By the end of the meeting William Shawn was able to convince Kincaid to begin writing herself, so she did. A West Indian parade, was the topic Kincaid decided to write about and to everyone’s surprise the story was accepted for publication with no editing. Soon after her big break through Kincaid married William Shawn in 1979 and later had his son, Allen Shawn.

Throughout Kincaid’s career she received a number of awards, " Dauwen Zabel Award, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1983, for At the Bottom of the River; honorary degrees from Williams College and Long Island College, both 1991, and Colgate University, Amherst College, and Bard College; Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund annual writer's award, 1992; National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction finalist, PEN Faulkner Award finalist, and Boston Book Review Fisk Fiction Prize, 1997, all for The Autobiography of My Mother; National Book Award nomination, 1997, for My Brother (Authors and Artists for Young Adults. Vol. 56. Gale, 2004.). " In 1995 Kincaid ended her affiliation with the New Yorker, but she continued to write fiction and publish several collections of essays.

Setting: Antigua

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Annie John is a curious little girl. The story starts by introducing Annie to the idea that children can die, it was not until one
morning Annie saw a funeral from across her yard that she came across this idea. The story goes on to show Annie’s interest for the death of children. As often as possible Annie would attend a funeral. She soon became addicted to the thought of seeing
funerals and understanding death more and more each day. When one day Annie discovered that one of her peers had died the thought of death became more of a reality for her.

Annie is a very intelligent little girl, but she has a lot of pressures falling on her. She has become bored with school because
she is ahead of the whole class. The older Annie gets the unhappier she gets also. By the age of fifteen Annie is assured
that she is the unhappiest person ever. Her unhappiness is something that has been bottled up for years, so there is no one source to this problem it is unhappiness that has been following her around for years and years.

Most of Annie's unhappiness comes from her anger towards her mother. She has this bottled up anger for her mother because she feels neglected. When Annie starts to realize the type of bond her mother and her father have Annie feels not only neglected but also jealous. After her first incident of witnessing her mother and father making love Annie feels anger. Then when her mother begins to be more attentive to her father Annie begins to feel neglect. This goes on for quite some time and this is a great contribution to Annie's unhappiness, which eventually leads her to her sick bed. Laying on her sick bed Annie was all out of options. She has been sick for quite some timeand no one is sure of what to do. Until one day her grandmother, not only sits beside her but she listens to her and Annie is able to relieve herself of all of her built up feelings and this leads to her healing. Once Annie is off of her sick bed, at the age of seventeen she decides she wants to leave Antigua to study nursing in England.

Plot: Annie starts off as a normal little girl until one day she learns that children can die. After learning this information Annie goes on to attending funerals and tries to understand this concept more in depth. Once summer approaches Annie starts to spend lots of time with her mother. But one day Annie learns that her mother and her father also have a bond, the type of bond that she can not be apart of, and this really upsets Annie. She begins to despise her mother for having this type of bond with her father and it soon grows into hatred. Due to this built up anger Annie has bottled in she sons falls into a mental break down and is not cured until her grandmother takes the time out to sit, talk, and listen to Annie.

Literary Device: Foreshawdoing: the death in the beginning of the story is a symbol for the death of Annie and her mothers relationship. Annie discovers that children can die. Children are youthful and lively and in the beginning of the story that is what Annies relationship with her mother represents. Then Annie learns that children can die which resembles the death of their relationship. After her discoveries Annie begins to despise her mother. Then the story goes from focus of the death of children to Annie and her mothers relationship. The death of their relationship was forshadowed from the beginning.

Conflict: Annie is in the process of understanding death among children. She goes to funerals to become more aware of the idea that children die. Annie is also conflicted with the bond that her mother and father have, it is almost as if she is jealous. After growing so close with her mother during the summer, Annie was very disturbed after discovering her parents making love because she saw the bond her parents were making and it upset her that she could not be apart of that bond. After witnessing something so disturbing Annie became angry with her mother and they grew apart. Her anger for her mother soon grows into hatred, which leads to her mental breakdown.

Literary criticism: Annie John is a story written by Jamaica Kincaid that goes to show and represent a mother daughter relationship. Critics have said, "The hallmark of her writing is the mother-daughter bond, an emphasis that has provoked extensive psychoanalytic and feminist discussion of her work. However, Kincaid's focus on the stresses, strains, occasional joys, and many struggles of this relationship throughout nearly all of her work is more often thought to mirror the same qualities inherent in colonial empires and their aftermath, particularly the legacy of British hegemony in Antigua." The critics say "The hallmark of her writing," meaning something that is often seen, it is almost unique but it can also be cliché.

Personal Review of the novel: This story is very complex and it gives the reader something to think about. The jealousy that Annie has in the beginning of the story does not seem to be so much of a problem because I thought that Annie would soon get over it. But as the story goes on it shows that this is the main focus of the book. Annies anger towards her mother soon becomes the main focus of the book and it really begins to take over Annies happy outgoing personality to become closed and despiteful. After reading the biography of Jamaica Kincaid I noticed that Annie and Jamcaica are very similar with the troubled childhood and then later leaving home to travel another country. I thought this was very interesting because of Annie's precise characterism is gives me a feel for where Jamaica got all of her ideas.

  • Annie John- she is the main character conflicted with problems that build up throughout the story. She carries a hatred for her mother and it grows stronger as the story goes on. Annie is a very curiuous character in the beginning of the book. She is first faced with her curiosity for the death of children and she begins to explore that idea. Then something even bigger than that idea comes across her mind which is the fact that her mother and father may have a stronger bond than her and her mother. Annie comes to show that she is a very jealous character because she can not accept the fact that her mother and father are so close and this eventually becomes a serious problem for Annie to deal with and this leads to her becoming sick.
  • Annie's Mother- Observing Annie's Mother through Annie's eyes, the reader may believe that Annie's mother is a neglectful and hurtful character. But in reality her mother is just a caring and loving person. Annies mother cares for both Annie and her husband (Annie's father). This is hard for Annie to see and this leads to the growing apart of the mother and daughter.
  • Annie's Father- he is a typical father figure. He works and supports the family financially. Although he is not around very much he still has a very stronng presence when he is around. He is caring and nice to Annie and also respectful to his wife (Annie's mother). The major role of Annie's father in this book is the problem he causes between Annie and her mother; other than that he is just a father figure.
  • The Red Girl- this is the girl that contributed to Annie's change in character. Annie started off as an intelligent, obedient, and exuborant child. Once Annie and The Red Girl became friends Annie became more and more rebellious to the normal way of living. The Red Girl was a very negative influence on Annie, but at the same time she was everything Annie wanted to be.

1.) "Kincaid, Jamaica - Introduction." enotes. N.p., 2010. Web. 13 May 2010. <>

Gebert, Lizabeth. Jamaica Kincaid A Critical Companion. Westport, Ct: Greenwood Press, 1999. 1-12. Print

3.) "Jamaica Kincaid." Authors and Artists for Young Adults. Vol. 56. Gale, 2004. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2010. <>