Understanding Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Synopsis

Since its publication in 1985, Annie John has become one of the most widely taught novels in American high schools. Part of its appeal lies in its unique setting, the island of Antigua. This interdisciplinary collection of 30 primary documents and commentary will enrich the reader's understanding of the historical, social, and cultural contexts of the novel. Among the topics examined are slavery in the Caribbean, the various religions in the Caribbean islands, the controversy over Christopher Columbus, family life in Antigua, and emigrations from the West Indies to the United States. Sources include newspaper and magazine articles, editorials, first-person narratives and memoirs of life in the Caribbean, letters, and position papers.

Excerpt

Since its publication in 1985, Annie John has become one of the most widely read novels in high schools in the United States. It was named one of the best books of 1985 by Library Journal and was cited in several lists of the most popular books in secondary school English classes. In 1993, the School Library Journal recommended Annie John on its list for English classes in middle school and high school of the best books written by women authors.

What is the appeal, in the United States of the 1990s, of a novel about a young girl growing up on the small Caribbean island of Antigua in the 1960s? In part, it may be its universal elements—its sensitive portrayal of a young girl's adolescence, including her painful alienation from her mother, her friendships, her education, the formation of her ideas, and her final separation from her family and from her country when she leaves to make her own way in the world.

But another part of this novel's appeal may be its unique setting. While students can identify with Annie's problems, perhaps quite similar to their own, they may also be intrigued by certain elements of difference. Annie grows up in a different country, with its own history, culture, customs, and foods; Antigua has its own educational, health, and religious systems. In Antigua, the overwhelming . . .

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