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Annie Hall Caribbean Education Female characters/ figures Fiction Jamaica Kincaid

You have Your Mother’s Eyes

Most of the people I encounter in my life say that I look like my mother. Even I have to admit that the resemblance is uncanny. Not only in terms of looks, but I’ve also adapted her mannerism, her personality, her food preferences, and other things. However, one thing that I did not inherit from her naturally was the way she believed a young woman should behave or perform.

My Mother on the right. Myself on the left.

Most of the people I encounter in my life say that I look like my mother. Even I have to admit that the resemblance is uncanny. Not only in terms of looks, but I’ve also adapted her mannerism, her personality, her food preferences, and other things. However, one thing that I did not inherit from her naturally was the way she believed a young woman should behave or perform. That was something that I actually had to put the effort in to align with. 

  In her novel, “Annie John”, Jamaica Kincaid comments on mother and daughter relationships and the role that mothers play. The protagonist, Annie John, adores her mother and shares an intimate relationship during her childhood. However, as she reaches puberty, she starts to feel distant from her mother and concerned about disappointing her as she fails to meet the expectations of a young lady her age. In most West Indian texts, the child narrators are used to represent the postcolonial condition and this emphasizes how islands in the Caribbean still struggle to gain agency over dominant cultures that aim to define them. 

What a new thing this was
for me: my mother’s back turned on me in disgust. It was true that I didn’t
spend all my days at my mother’s side before this, that I spent most of my
days at school, but before this young-lady business I could sit and think of
my mother, see her doing one thing or another, and always her face bore a
smile for me. Now I often saw her with the corners of her mouth turned
down in disapproval of me

(Kincaid 25).

A mother plays an important role in a child’s upbringing. My mother taught me wrong from right. She taught me how to cook. She taught me how to comb my hair. She showed me how to sit properly, not to stare at strangers, to do what I love, and to be kind and generous to others. A connection with your mother can be beautiful depending on the state and nature of that relationship. Annie glorifies her mother at the beginning of the novel; she admires how capable and knowledgeable she is. However as Annie grows up, she comes to dislike her mother and it is initially revealed that she is different from her mother which causes them to clash/disagree.

Annie’s mother was raised traditionally so she holds values and expectations of young women that oppose what Annie wants. There are some similarities; as Annie’s mother shares the same free-spirited nature as Annie, which was shown when she ran away from her home in Dominica to go to Antigua but Annie fails to recognize this and instead gets upset about her mother’s changed attitude. Their relationship isn’t entirely negative though. Annie’s mother still showers her daughter with love and tries her best to guide her in the way she knows she should. She states near the end of the novel:

“It doesn’t matter what you do or where you go, I’ll always be your mother and this will always be your home.” (8.19)”

The mother doesn’t reject Annie and still stands in support of her. We may not be able to choose our mothers and they may not be perfect but it still can be a blessing to have them as figures in our lives. We mature and learn things on our own but one doesn’t simply forget a loving mother who did everything for the happiness of their child. We depend on our mothers to shape us and raise us but as we start to lean less on them it is good to give them credit for they do play an active role in our development. I believe my mom did a great job and I feel grateful that she was in my life.

By J.L. Boynes

Hey there! I'm a Jamaican writer and English teacher. Lover of books and the Arts. A foodie, a believer, and a source of light. I encourage friendly interaction and discussion about general and personal subjects. All are welcome!

19 replies on “You have Your Mother’s Eyes”

Very good writing and a topic that’s relevant to me right now. I have recently realized how similar my mother and I are, which is good but sometimes lead to disagreements…looolol. Interesting.

Liked by 1 person

Really excellent commentary Jodi. I especially agree with your last paragraph. Our mothers contribution to our upbringing is indeed valuable and for this we must be grateful.
Keep up the good work

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Have to agree with you. Beautiful writing. I became emotional as i read. I also thought about my daughter reading this and other girls and how relevant this is. Thanks Jodi, great job💯

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Have to agree with you. Beautiful writing. I became emotional as i read. I also thought about my daughter reading this and other girls and how relevant this is. Thanks Jodi, great job💯

Liked by 1 person

You truly look like your mom younger version most family i think can relate to a situation like that but like you say your mother will all ways be your mother.connection with your mother should be beautiful and it really depends on the state and nature of the relationship.very good commentary keep it going girl.

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Very interesting and relevant topic. We learn about ourselves through our mothers daily. May we inherit their patience and endless love. Very thought provoking, Jodi.

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