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Analysis of the Characters of Jamaica Kincaid's Novel 'Annie John'

Jamaica Kincaid is an American author who was born in Antigua. Her novel Annie John written in 1985 tells the story of a young girl who grows to young womanhood. The novel chronicles the life of Annie John from the age of ten to seventeen, when the girl proceeds to England for a course in nursing.
Jamaica Kincaid is an American author who was born in Antigua. Her novel Annie John written in 1985 tells the story of a young girl who grows to young womanhood. The novel chronicles the life of Annie John from the age of ten to seventeen, when the girl proceeds to England for a course in nursing. The narrator of the story is the girl Annie John herself. She is the protagonist. In the novel Kincaid creates major and minor characters that run in a vein throughout the novel. The major characters in the novel are discussed in succeeding paragraphs. Annie John. She is the heroine of the novel and the story is an account of her life from the age of ten to seventeen. The writer takes us through the mind of a young girl and her reactions to events around her. She also tells the reader about how the body changes like menstruation affect Annie. Kincaid paints her as a bright and intelligent girl who is prey to many emotions including love, lesbianism, sex and emotions.The writer creates a character that is deeply emotional and attached to her mother. When she sees her mother in a sexual embrace with her father she feels she has been left out. Annie John is looking for freedom and she finally breaks free when at the age of 17 she leaves Antigua for England. Her struggle throughout the novel is to become a separate self. Annie’s Mother. She is the second major character in the novel. She is strong capable and beautiful woman, whom Annie loves. But a divide appears between Annie and her mother as Annie realizes that her mother is a separate entity. Kinkaid paints the mother as a strong character who has her own notions of obeah and traditional medicine. Annie’s mother loves her daughter, but is unable to completely devote herself to Annie. Her individuality is the main reason Annie leaves home. Annie’s father. He is almost 30 years older than Annie’s mother. Earlier he was a philanderer who loved many women. He has also fathered many children and when his wife (Annie’s mother) goes out into the street, she is harassed and taunted by the ex mates of the father. Annie’s father is leading retired life. He likes his daughter, but there is no emotional rapport with Annie. All Annie sees is her mother cooking food for her father as they live a simple life. Gwen. She is Annie’s best friend in school. Annie becomes emotionally attached to Gwen and the two share many secrets and times together. Gwen fills the void created by the loss of Annie’s love for her mother. However Annie feels she is dull and she distances herself from Gwen. The Red Girl. She is another girl who Annie befriends. She adores Red Girl because she likes her freedom and tom boyish approach to life. The Red girl is a lower class girl, but she captivates Annie till Annie drops her also. There are minor characters namely Ma Chess and Pa Chess who are grandparents of Annie. Ma Chess is a woman with an acute sense of time and she insists on leading her life as she deems fit. She cures Annie with obeah medicine when Annie falls ill. Pa Chess is the man with whom Annie’s mother had fought and left home at the age of sixteen. His son dies and after that he and ma Chess never spoke again to each other again. There are a host of other characters created by Kincaid. They include Naida, the girl who dies, Sonia a slow witted girl who Annie initially adores and Manie the boy friend who makes Annie pose naked on top of an ant hill. Kincaid creates vibrant characters and one can’t help feeling that she is a master story teller.

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