Study Guide

Annie John Tough-o-Meter

By Jamaica Kincaid

Tough-o-Meter

(4) Base Camp

The language in Annie John is deceptively simple. What does this mean? Well, for starters, you probably will not have to consult your dictionary too much. Most of the vocabulary is pretty easy-peasy. So where's the deception, you ask?

When you begin reading, you may wonder, "Does anything ever actually happen in this book?" If you're pressed for time, like most busy students are, the straightforward prose and the longish sentences and paragraphs may even tempt you, to skim, breeze through or even skip what might seem like digressions or tangents. You might say to youself, "Oh, she's just talking about what her mother puts in her bath water here or where she hides her marbles. I can skip that part, right?" Wrong.

Doing that would be cheating yourself of the quiet beauty that is Annie John. If you started reading the novel waiting for something big to happen, you're barking up the wrong tree, buddy. There are no explosions, no major life-changing deaths or wars or love affairs. In many ways it's a small story about growing up.

Our suggestion is to read Annie John like a poem. Revel in the tangents, asides, stories-with-a-story. Make note of the imagery, the patterns. What repeats? How many different ways does Annie tell the same story? Settle in to the tempo of Annie's world and enjoy the scenery.

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