Study Guide

Lucy: A Novel Family

By Jamaica Kincaid

Family

When Lucy begins working for the family featured in the novel, it's almost like she's joined the cast of one of those old sitcoms from the 1960s. This book's got all the essential elements: the doting mother, hard-working father, and bunch of charming kids who say sassy stuff all the time. As Lucy soon finds out, the image of perfection this family projects is just as phony baloney as the ones projected on television screens. And this turns out to be a mighty valuable lesson for someone who thought she was the only one with a messed up family.

Questions About Family

  1. What role has Lucy's relationship with her parents played in her life? Why doesn't Lucy open her mother's letters while she's in the U.S.?
  2. We might say that Lucy goes to the U.S. in large part to escape her family troubles, particularly her difficulties with her mother. Is she successful? Why or why not?
  3. How do Lucy's ideas about family change or develop as a result of her experience in the U.S.?

Chew on This

Lucy suggests that too much wealth can be bad for a family.

Cross-cultural pain-in-the-butt: Lucy shows that families everywhere can be stifling and oppressive.

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