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(Kincaid 25).
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
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.