Study Guide

Lucy: A Novel Weather

By Jamaica Kincaid

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In the land of literary symbolism and imagery, weather seems pretty straightforward, right? Sunny equals happy while cold or stormy equals not so happy (with a whole spectrum of nice and nasty conditions in between). Well, in Lucy, that's not always the case. 

It's true that sometimes images of the weather in this novel help to reinforce a particular mood or state of mind in a character in ways we would totally expect. For instance, upon first arriving in the U.S. Lucy tells us:

I was no longer in a tropical zone and I felt cold inside and out, the first time such a sensation had come over me. (1.3)

Brrr. Lucy suggests that the chill in the air is just like the one in her soul.

In other places in the book, though, images of the weather provide a strong, sometimes unexpected contrast with Lucy's feelings or attitude. After surviving the harsh winter, for example, Lucy remarks:

I had lived through this time, and as the weather changed from cold to warm it did not bring me along with it. Something settled inside me, something heavy and hard. (2.10)

While warm weather may typically symbolize lightness or happiness, Lucy sure isn't feeling it. 

Similarly, she later tells us:

I was born and grew up in a place that did not seem to be influenced by the tilt of the earth at all; it had only one season—sunny, drought-ridden. And what was the effect on me of growing up in such a place? I did not have a sunny disposition, and as for actual happiness, I had been experiencing a long drought. (4.2)

As critics have pointed out, images of the weather in Lucy help to reinforce an emphasis of the novel that Lucy often feels out of sync with her surroundings, whether as a foreigner in the U.S. or as a Caribbean inhabitant living under British rule (Source).

Now whoever said it was boring to talk about the weather?

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