LITR 5831 World / Multicultural Literature

Discussion-Leader Presentation

Reading Assignment: Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy (1-132; up to chapter titled "Lucy")

Discussion leader: Christina Holmes
(Dialogue between Crusoe and Lucy? How has the novel changed? or other issues)

Jamaica Kincaid

May 25, 1949

St. Johns, Antigua

*novelist (Annie John, Mr. Potter, See Now and Then)


*gardending writer

***Work criticized for subject matter (drawing on her life, the tones and the anger)


Overview "Lucy"

Story centers around Lucy, a young 19 yr old  girl, who has come from the  West Indies to North America as an AU-PAIR (live in Nanny) for an upper class family.

Lucy is looking to escape her past life in "de islaans". 

The book details her experiences while  working for  Mariah and Lewis, her employers.

~~Connecting with Mariah as a mother figure

~~Embracing the children as  family (15)

~~Opening up to the American teenage culture

***meeting people outside of her immediate comfort zone (Peggy, Hugh, Paul)

***coming to terms with her "distain" for her mother(upon death of father)

***experiencing things shuned at home- freedoms,   culture differences, drugs, parties ( Things she may have expereicned at home yet not to the magnatude  in NA, given the restraints of her mother)

~~"leave the nest" embark on her journey into adulthood- being responsible for self in  the NEW WORLD


1) the control or governing influence of a nation over a dependent country, territory, or people.


Same hierarchy - Mariah/employer/Master and Lucy/employee/slave

See the differences in lifestyle



Mariah is afforded luxuries in life;


~at home  does not work outside of the home

~life of leisure- summers at lake house, concerned with causes (advocates for indangered areas)

~involved in charities

~maid/ AU-PAIR

~dependent on husband  

~Lewis handles finances


Lucy is in the role of servant- not coerced servitude yet places minority in servants role(95)

~seeking employment

~leave home for a better life

~adhere to house rules/ times

~dependent upon their support (pay, room and board)

~at the beckon call of children

~not able to discipline 


Postcolonialism- as a text that details the transitions in history as impacted by colonialism (Lucy running from her past life)


TRANSITIONAL MIGRATION-As defined by  Migration Policy Insitute-departing from traditional ideas, doctrines and cultural values in accordance to one set of national and cultural norms.

~~~ cultrual values- stay within your own culture-dating/ marry

Lucy is very liberal in her partners(shunned at home for same behavior)

~~~doctrines-dispelling the judgements of others(51) no longer concerned about what others think of her

~~~traditions-break her mothers control- seeking employment outside of servitude

dating outside of her own



~leaving her motherland to travel to North America

~embraces new surroundings, questions but seeks it (17,20)

~forges out her own path although haunted by her mother and her past

struggles between what to hold on to from OLD WORLD (1st world)

what to create in/avoid in NEW WORLD(2nd world)




*mixed emotions/torn

~doesn't want to return

~puts as much distance as possible (31)

~cutting ties with mother

~kill the memories by creating new memories in her new surroundings to drown out the past-(as if her memories are stifling her progress)

Page 31- "If I could put enough events..."


Misses certain nuances (6)

~longs for bed, food, past relationship with mother



2)-IDENTITY - Island under English Rule

Lucy attends the Queen Victoria's Girl School

Made to conform to English vernacular- Poem (20)- "I had pronounced everyword..."


Mariah although kind caring embracing and paying her- Employer/Master

Lucy there for her convenience( much as slaves were for masters)

mariah wants Lucy to view life through her eyes


"spring"as a savior to Lucy


Lewis Neo-colonial-

his business involved in globalization and cultural imperialism

*capitalism  is needed to live the life and Lewis builds on areas  Mariah trues to preserve(73)



Bildungsroman-coming of age

Modernity- colonialist  set up 

Mariah as employer/master



Open criticism?


4) Original sin-  "being dissatisfied with station of life"


~ok, warranted as given the betrayal of her mother

~she runs from it

~buries  it in not reading the letters


5)She then becomes the enticer and  not the enticed, giving her the power to destroy/create)


6)Flips the norm- White men with women of color to women of color with white men-thoughts??