In addition to brilliant explorations of the mother-daughter relationship and its relationship with themes of colonialism, Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy (1990) offers sharp, perceptive commentary on American culture. The author, an Antiguan who came to America as an au pair, uses her life to inspire much of her fiction. Annie John (1985) is a coming-of-age tale of a young girl growing up in Antigua, while Lucy is the story of an au pair who comes to America from a small West Indian island. Although the protagonists have different names, interpreters commonly infer that Lucy picks up where Annie John left off. Yet when we encounter Lucy--unlike young Annie--we find a tenacious determination to sever attachments and achieve independence.
Readers might therefore be tempted to place Lucy within the bounds of the Caribbean's postcolonial literary movement. Many authors in this movement reject what they see as white colonial values in favor of African or West Indian values and modes of expression. They expose the debilitating aftermath of colonial rule and describe how imperialism transformed local societies. Yet Lucy pushes beyond the boundaries of this genre. The protagonist accepts neither British nor West Indian modes of expression. Instead, Lucy forges her own way as a defiant, self-reliant woman. Lucy thus can be explored fruitfully through feminist, postmodern, psychoanalytic, and other theories of literature.
To fully understand Lucy's hostile defiance, one needs to know more than Kincaid's biography; knowing the historical context of the novel is critical. In 1632, England colonized Antigua. After overcoming significant resistance from the native Caribs, the English settlers soon began to grow cash crops such as tobacco, indigo, and sugar. The success of the sugar plantation brought an influx of cheap slave labor. After the abolition of slavery in 1834, Antigua remained under British rule, and life under colonial rule was similar to that of many of Britain's West Indian colonies. The British education system, for instance, was a major disseminator of British cultural values and ideals. Jamaica Kincaid's early literary influences under this system were mostly British. These influences included, for instance, Milton, Dickens, Shakespeare, and the Bronte sisters, as well as the Bible. During the 1960s, Antigua began to push for independence. The island was progressively given control of internal affairs, foreign affairs, and defense but did not gain full independence until 1981. Unfortunately, along with independence came corruption and exploitation. The same native politicians who had blamed colonialism for political and economic upheavals now allowed tourism to exploit the island.
After twenty years Jamaica Kincaid returned to Antigua and was enraged at the condition of the island. The essay A Small Place(1988) is Kincaid's answer to her experience, and it has not been received well among critics because of its rage and open assault on tourism. But this essay perhaps opens the door for the candid antagonism toward oppressive power that Kincaid expresses in Lucy.
Lucy thus is far from an idyllic memoir of a young immigrant's first year in America, nor is it an account of how a girl's dreams come true. Instead, the novel treats the dissolution of dreams as Lucy comes to terms with reality. Lucy's narrative voice resonates strongly throughout the piece. The author gives her the authority of the keen, often satiric observer of her new world, where she is free to sever ties to her past and to face determinedly the blank canvas of her future.
Jamaica Kincaid- Girl Essay
1079 WordsNov 4th, 20065 Pages
Jamaica Kincaid- Girl The poem "Girl" by author Jamaica Kincaid shows love and family togetherness by creating microcosmic images of the way mothers raise their children in order to survive. Upon closer examination, the reader sees that the text is a string of images in Westerner Caribbean family practices.
Jamaica Kincaid has taken common advice that daughters are constantly hearing from their mothers and tied them into a series of commands that a mother uses to prevent her daughter from turning into "the slut that she is so bent on becoming" (380). But they are more than commands; the phrases are a mother's way of ensuring that her daughter has the tools that she needs to survive as an adult. The fact that the mother takes the…show more content…
The story does not give evidence that men help the women with their chores, and this may also give women cause for dissension and hostility. One of the major points of dissension in the story is the daughter's two interjections into her mother's recitation. At both points, she tries to gain advantage over her mother's advice by offering objections to her mother's words. Both times, the mother merely continues her barrage of words without validating the girl's interjections. The mother, too, constantly hints that the girl is intent upon becoming a slut, which creates even more dissension and hostility between the two. At times in the story it seems as if the mother does not like the daughter and is only giving her advice because it is her duty. It is hard to determine from the dialogue anything other then the fact that the mother has placed intense demands on her daughter, but that she does not feel that the daughter will become anything more than a slut.
As far back as bible times women and their daughters were taught to submit to the head of the family for the rest of their lives. Ephesians 5:22-23 states:
"Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior."
The bible emphasizes the equality of wives to husbands but did not advise the overthrowing of the head of the family. Still today in many other religions the wife is submissive to her