Study Guide

Annie John Coming-of-Age

By Jamaica Kincaid

Coming-of-Age

When Annie John begins, Annie is ten years old and the apple of her mother's eye. All is well with the world. Then, terror strikes. Okay not terror… but Annie begins to grow breast buds, grow taller, sprout body hair, and menstruate.

What bothers Annie most about her changing body is that it seems to coincide with her mother's new chilly behavior toward her. No longer does her mother give her pecks on the cheek every time she passes her or allow them to wear matching dresses. The day that Annie's mother informs her that she's now "becoming a young lady" is equivalent to the kiss of death for Annie's Peter Pan dreams of being Mommy's baby girl forever. After receiving the cold shoulder from her mother, Annie distances herself as she adjusts to her rapidly changing body and begins to burn bridges with her mother through outright defiance.

Questions About Coming-of-Age

  1. What are Annie's feelings about her changing body?
  2. How do Annie and her friends help each other make the transition from girlhood to womanhood?
  3. What are the connection between Annie's coming-of-age and her relationship with her mother?
  4. How does Annie come to know who she is?

Chew on This

In Annie John, the changes in Annie's body coincide with changes within her family.

Annie's physical development is the catalyst for the split with her mother.

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