A Walk to the Jetty by Jamaica Kincaid
In A Walk to the Jetty by Jamaica Kincaid we have the theme of discontent, conflict, fear, separation, independence, memories and honesty. Narrated in the first person by a young seventeen year old girl called Annie John the reader realises after reading the story that Kincaid may be exploring the theme of discontent. Annie is discontent in life. She does not like her environment and nor is she keen to go England. However it appears to be the lesser of two evils for Annie. It is also interesting that Annie considers that some of the traditions of her mother (and father) to be absurd. She cannot understand how or why she should be forced to marry someone that she does not really know. This may be significant as it is possible that Kincaid is suggesting that Annie has an independent streak in her, that she may not necessarily agree with the tradition and culture her mother and father followed. It is also noticeable that while Annie is walking to the Jetty she can remember little things about her life. Things that may seem to be unimportant but still nonetheless form memories for Annie. Memories that she has never let go of.
There is also a sense that should Annie not go to England she will not be free to live her life as she sees fit. She may end up talking on the role of her mother when it comes to helping her father and if anything Kincaid could be suggesting that Annie’s growth may be stunted should she remain at home. It is also possible that Annie is emotionally dishonest. Something that is noticeable by the fact that she never really tells people what she thinks of them. It is as though she holds back. As to why the reader is uncertain. Though it is possible that the role of the female may have been to be silent and adhere to the rules set out in a male dominated society. The reader also never learns as to what motivates Annie. Though she dislikes her environment she still nonetheless has fond memories of it. Simple things like making sure that she says goodbye to a former friend suggest that Annie knows that her friend had an impact (most likely positive) on her life. It is as though Annie is in conflict with herself. She knows that she wants to leave and go to England but at the same time part of her wishes to remain at home. Even if home has nothing to offer her.
Which may be the point that Kincaid is attempting to make. She may be suggesting that when a person leaves an environment that they may not necessarily like. Sometimes they are torn by good memories that they have. It is also noticeable that Annie is not excited about moving to England even though it is an opportunity in whereby her life could improve dramatically. There is also an element of fear within Annie. Something that is noticeable by the manner in which she holds her parents hands. Though she will be pleased to leave her parents behind she still fears for what the future might hold. A natural instinct for anybody who is making the type of journey that Annie is making. For the first time in her life she is separating herself from her parents and venturing out into the world alone. As to whether Annie will succeed is difficult to say as she may or may not have the necessary drive to succeed. However if she reminds herself of the facts and the fact that she doesn’t like her environment. Then Annie may very well succeed in England.
The end of the story is also interesting as Annie appears to be just going through the motions when she waves from the ship at her mother. It is something that she is expected to do and as such does so. If anything the reader also senses that Annie is not only saying goodbye to her mother but to her home too. Though again the reader never really gets a full insight into why Annie would be so discontent at home. True she does not wish to follow the tradition of her parents (and get married to a stranger) but she appears to be independent enough to be able to ensure that this does not occur. She may also realise that life at home limits her abilities and that the only opportunity available to her is to move to England. To start her life in an environment that will be different to home and in which she will receive the required training to be a nurse. In reality Annie is stepping into the unknown. She has turned her back on her life at home and is now dependent on life being better for her in England.