Study Guide

Lucy: A Novel Dissatisfaction

By Jamaica Kincaid

Dissatisfaction

Dissatisfaction isn't a great feeling (duh). In Lucy, our heroine's expressions of her feelings of emptiness and despair can't help but tug at the heartstrings of readers (well, except for that contingent of robot readers). While Lucy's struggles with her discontent seem about as much fun as getting braces put on your teeth, the novel suggests that dissatisfaction can have some surprising perks. After all, as Lucy seems to find, feeling utterly miserable can sometimes give you just the kick in the butt you need to try to change your situation.

Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. How does Lucy define happiness or satisfaction? How does this differ from the ways other characters in the novel define it?
  2. Do you think Lucy has valid reasons to be so dissatisfied with her life? If so, what do you think those reasons might be?
  3. Does Lucy find much satisfaction during her time in the U.S.? Why isn't she as happy after leaving her babysitting job as she thought she'd be?
  4. Are there values that are more important to the characters than personal happiness?

Chew on This

Lucy would've been a whole lot happier if she'd never left her home in the Caribbean.

Lucy suggests that an obsession with personal happiness is what's wrong with people in the U.S.

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