Study Guide

Annie John The Supernatural

By Jamaica Kincaid

The Supernatural

The spirit of a dead person showing up again under a tree. Porcelain inexplicably breaking. A scratch on the arch of Annie's foot turning into a large sore and taking too long to heal. Shiver. These are possibilities in the realm of the Caribbean supernatural.

Obeah is a version of African spiritualism and is prevalent in the Caribbean islands under different names: Shango (Trinidad), Santeria (Cuba), Vodun or Voodoo (Haiti), Ju-Ju (Bahamas). In Annie John, obeah represents, among other things, an alternative to the British colonial world order. When Annie falls ill, obeah medicine is presented in contrast to Western medicine. But obeah is also a constant threat: many of the previous lovers of Annie's father tried to "set bad spirits" on Annie and her mother.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. How is obeah described?
  2. What is the role of Ma Chess? Ma Jolie?
  3. Why doesn't Annie's father want to be in the house when Ma Jolie comes over when Annie's sick?
  4. What are Annie's feelings towards the supernatural and obeah?

Chew on This

In Annie John, obeah represents resistance to British colonialism.

Although present only in one chapter, Ma Chess and her obeah practice are one of the most important features of Annie John.

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