This novel “Annie John” is mainly discussing the process of Annie’s self-awareness from her age from ten to sixteen, which is a process from not knowing to knowing. The narrator is very concentrated in how Annie gradually realizes that she is a separate self, by depicting the change of her relationship with her mother. At first Annie wants to be unified with her mother, but with his maturity and the emergence of self-identity, her relationship with her mother finally breaks down and Annie plans to leave the island.
Undoubtedly, this is the result of growing-up, and more importantly, it is a reborn. Annie becomes a separate self, but also paradoxically a brand new person. The novel is started with Annie’s obsession with death. Like many kids in school, her obsession with death is mainly based on fear and curiosity. “At school, almost everyone I knew had seen a dead person, and not a spirit of a dead person but a real dead person. The girl who sat at the desk next to mine suddenly stopped sucking her thumb because her mother had washed it in water in which a dead person had been given a bath. There seems to be a spiritual belief that people are possible to be hurt by death body and this belief leads to Annie’s fear.
People feel haunted by the death. However, as for the death of the hunchback girl, Annie shows her curiosity to some extent – as mentioned in the novel, “on hearing that she was dead, I wished I had tapped the hump to see if it was hollow. ” This humorous tone is also revealed in this passage,” When I looked at this girl, it was as if the View-Master wasn’t working properly. Annie realizes how dead people are viewed and treated – they are not able to react so they can simply bear all the changes that occur in the circumstance. To some extent, the image of the dead people is distorted. This ambiguous emotion towards the death can be considered as the start of Annie’s exploration toward the humanity and the existence of beings. And this can foreshadow the emergence of Annie’s self-awareness. From another perspective, the relationship between Annie and her mother begins to change subtly.
Annie’s mother teaches Annie about death, which is the starting point of their relationship: Annie is an innocent kid who needs much help from her parent. However, Annie’s dependence on her mother is gradually undermined: Annie is afraid of her mom’s touch. As mentioned in the novel, Annie feel ill when her mother touched Annie’s body or even her stuff because her mother used to touch the dead body. Moreover, in the last of the first chapter, Annie later fails to bring home the fish. That night, as a punishment, I ate my supper outside, alone, under the breadfruit tree, and my mother said that she would not be kissing me good night later, but when I climbed into bed she came and kissed me anyway. ” In this way, the conflict between the mother and the daughter arises. In the following chapters, though Annie begins to fear of being alone and separated with her family, she gradually realizes that she is a separate self when she grows older and reaches female maturity. She struggles between the unification with her mother and the self-awareness.
In the first half of the second chapter, Annie is strongly proud of her mother since Mrs. John is capable and elegant – Annie appreciate the beauty and the sense of her mother. They bathe together, and share feelings to each other. They are almost a unity. More importantly, Annie is afraid of being alone and of having no one to love, mainly revealed by her feeling when her father shares his experience with her. However, things change with the maturity of Annie’s female figure. Annie feels stress from her mother and gradually disobeys when Mrs.
John attempts to teach the daughter to behave as an elegant lady, like Mrs. John herself. Mrs. John shows the powerful side of her characteristic and the tension between the parent and the child increases. Making the tension build up to the climax, Annie sees the sexual scene of her parents. Annie is preoccupied with her mother’s circular motion of the hand and feels disgusted – this is another time that Annie resents her mother’s hands after the first chapter, in which she refuses to be touched because her mother used to touch the dead body.
But her resent is due to a different reason: she views the hands in terms of sexuality and she feels separated strongly. This feeling is fully revealed in Annie’s essay in her new school. In the essay, Annie was swimming with the help of her mother and the daughter later could not find and reach the mother. Annie is absolutely afraid of being left by her mother. Her fear even changes into anger when she begins to menstruate. Naturally, Gwen becomes the person that Annie depends on, as a substitution of her mother to some extent.
Then in fourth chapter, she begins to confront against her mother: she gets along with the Red Girl, who is very much unlike Annie herself, and she begins to lie and to disobey her mother. As suggested in the novel, the relationship between Annie and her mother is even similar to the conflicts between the colonialism and postcolonial culture: they are viewed as a rebel fighter and a conqueror by Annie herself. As the climax of the novel, their relationship breaks down and even her relationships in the school are undermined.
It is impossible to always be accompanied. Though Annie feels sad and even sick, in the last two chapters, she entirely departs from her mother both emotionally and physically, and more importantly, she becomes a separate self. As a reborn, Annie finally plans to go to England for a new life. This novel fully concentrates in the psychological and emotional change of the protagonist, Annie with the change of her relationship with her mother. As revealed in the novel, self-definition and growing to be a separate self are truly full of loneliness, pains and doubts.