Essay on The Mother-Daughter Relationship in Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid

1452 Words6 Pages
The mother-daughter relationship is a common topic throughout many of Jamaica Kincaid's novels. It is particularly prominent in Annie John, Lucy, and Autobiography of my Mother. This essay however will explore the mother-daughter relationship in Lucy. Lucy tells the story of a young woman who escapes a West Indian island to North America to work as an au pair for Mariah and Lewis, a young couple, and their four girls. As in her other books—especially Annie John—Kincaid uses the mother-daughter relationship as a means to expose some of her underlying themes.
Unlike in her novel Annie John, however, Kincaid does not specify which West Indian Island Lucy hails from. It also seems to be set in the post colonial period and there is evidence
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She “had been made to memorize it, verse after verse, and then had recited the whole poem to an auditorium full of parents, teachers, and [her] fellow pupils” (Page 18), even though she would not see such a flower until becoming almost twenty years old. Lucy sees the daffodils Mariah shows her as reminder of her colonial education. Upon close examination, one notices a parallel between the interactions between Lucy and her mother, and Lucy’s colonized country and its colonizer or “mother country,” England. The presence of her mother haunts Lucy’s mind while she is in America. She cannot seem to escape the traits she has inherited from her mother. Although Lucy’s mother seems to allow some kind of separation by allowing Lucy to travel to America, she has no intention of making it permanent and completely letting go of Lucy. She consistently writes her letters. Similarly the legacy of colonialism is almost impossible to escape from. It has woven itself with the ways of the country and the people of the country and it takes great effort to escape. Lucy struggles to reconcile what she has internalized from her mother with what she discovers about herself:
I was then at the height of my two-facedness: that is outside I seemed one way, inside I was another; outside false, inside true (Lucy, Page 18)
This is an example of the double consciousness of the
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