Jamaica Kincaid's novel \'Lucy\' illustrates the story of a girl with desperate desire to manipulate her personal identity. With motives so deeply ingrained in her determinedly expendable past and their manifestations in her present, her quest propels her obsessions divides past from present. In an effort to abandon her historical burdens and familial resentment in the West Indies, Lucy becomes a vagabond nanny in the global city of New York, a foreign realm she finds to be inextricably disappointing. This movement becomes the catalyst for transformation from her born national character, her “unconscious inheritance”, to her adult national identity, one based on a “matter of choice” (Parrinder, 24). It is this freedom of choice, her ultimate desire, which requires her departure; one she chooses to be spatial, temporal, and inevitably emotional.
Much of Lucy's realizations in New York succeed her initial experience of differences as they occur in stark contrast to her past experiences in the West Indies. Upon arrival in the city she is exposed to the reality of winter and expresses the first of many painful realities as “enter[ing] [her] life like a flow of water dividing formerly dry and solid ground, creating two banks, one [her] past… the other [her] future…” (Kincaid, 5-6). This personal interpretation literally illustrates her immediate obsession with separateness. Towards the end of the novel, she reflects that she “had begun to see the past like this; there is a line… [dividing] your past, a collection of people you used to be and things you used to do…the person you no longer are, the situations you are no longer in.” (Kincaid, 137).
[...] She became the namesake of her mother's Uncle Joseph because he rich from money he made in sugar in Cuba, and it was thought that he would remember the honor and leave something for [her] in his will.”, and Potter must have come from the Englishman who owned my ancestors when they were slaves Lucy was the only part of [her] name that [she] would have cared to hold on to which her spiteful mother claims came from “Satan himself,” short for Lucifer.” This emphasis on Lucy's name is hugely insightful into her identity and her relationship with her mother; especially in consideration of her acknowledging this moment as moment [she] knew who [she] was.” (Kincaid, 149,152). [...]
[...] And there Lucy's conclusion truly lies, her quest for her identity is focused entirely her dissonant relationship with her mother and the feeling of worthlessness she was left with no other choice but to redeem. In her journal, she writes down “only this: wish I could love someone so much that I would die from it.' . a great wave of shame came over me and I wept and wept (Kincaid, 164). The consistent interjection of memories and reflections throughout the novel clearly creates [...]
[...] This allows for a strange shift in Lucy's conscious, as if some stubbornness subsides so that she acknowledges that her past and present are generally inseparable. She remembers realizing that “everything remains the same and yet nothing is the and sharing it with her mother; whose familiarity with this concept rendered her speechless (Kincaid, 79). The reader can infer from the manner in which Lucy addresses this memory that it was an unforgiveable betrayal felt for her by her mother. [...]
[...] It is significant to note that she does not dispose of them, but she will not read them, as not to compromise her spatial and temporal constructions; she cannot bear the conception of sharing time with her mother. The more often she regresses from present into past memories, the more incorporated the information becomes in the story, the more relevance it is given, and the stronger the temporal disjunction. As in the case of the daffodils, the color yellow becomes overused in reference to Mariah, both before and after the event; symbolizing perhaps Lucy's innate ability and intelligence in predicting correlations in her own life. [...]
[...] Lucy exemplifies this experience of modernity with feelings of resentment and oppression intrinsic to her childhood, which frames her adjusting perspective towards modernization in the city and predicts the thematic disjuncture prevalent in her experiences. It becomes significant that her freedom is limited by her social status as a vagabond. She is contracted to live with Mariah and Lewis as a nanny for one year, literally restricted by the key component of modernization: capitalism. Their wealth is naturally equivalent to the power they exude over her; controlling her experiences, her mobility, and her overall developing self. [...]
APA Style referenceFor your bibliography
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee