Annie John: A Bildungsroman?
Jamaica Kincaid’s story Annie John is often thought of as a “postcolonial coming-of-age novel.” To understand this, it must first be known what both terms, postcolonial and coming-of-age novel, mean. Postcolonial refers to the period of time after the establishment of independence in a colony. European countries, including England, France, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands, colonized other nations in order to benefit from things like resources or geographical locations for trading purposes. They colonized cultures in various countries including many African nations, the Caribbean, and Southern Asia. After a country becomes free from their colonizer, they are then considered to be in a post-colonial state. The next part of the description, coming-of-age novel, refers to the way in which a text focuses on the growth of the main character from youth to adulthood. At first it displays the flaws of a character and then proceeds to show how the protagonist develops through experience as well as an understanding of the self. Themes of these novels often include, as they do in Annie John, maturation, wisdom, and loss of innocence. While many readers view Annie John as a post-colonial coming-of-age novel, because of Annie’s progression into maturity, the post-colonial setting of the novel challenges this interpretation through Annie’s unusually rebellious actions.
Annie John is considered to be a bildungsroman, which is a subgenre of a coming-of-age novel. It specifically focuses on Annie’s moral and psychological development and show how important her transformation of character is. This novel exemplifies the traditional bildungsroman is the way in which Annie views death. At the beginning of the novel she views it as contagious, which is shown when Annie expresses that she does not want her mother to touch her after her mother washes and prepares the body of a friend’s daughter after she passes. She fears death yet has many questions...
Cited: Kincaid, Jamaica. Annie John. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.
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