Annie John : Chapter 7
Text: Kincaid, Jamaica, Annie John, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1985.
Summary of Chapter Seven: The Long Rain
During a heavy period of rain that lasts for three months, Annie becomes sick and takes to her bed. Her mother and father take her to the doctor, a man from England named Stephens. He cannot find anything wrong and recommends rest and a good diet. In her own perception, she sees a black cloud in her head and hallucinates. She cannot remember anything. The obeah woman, Ma Jolie, comes and makes marks on her and does rituals, gives herbs, and protects her from spirits. They cannot help her. Annie does strange things like give her photographs a bath, erasing the faces. After that, her grandmother, Ma Chess, a more powerful obeah woman, comes from Dominica to care for her. When Ma Chess's favorite son, Johnnie, was ill, Pa Chess sent for the doctor, and John died. Ma Chess never spoke to Pa Chess again because he would not let her use native medicine on her son. Ma Chess stays with Annie in her room and sleeps with her at night until she is herself. She cares for her as if she is an infant.
Annie's sickness and the rain stop after three months. She stops hallucinating. Her depression, however, does not lift, for she feels her life a burden and wishes she could go somewhere she is not known. When she goes back to school, she invents a new persona, a different voice, and behaves with the authority of a queen. She intimidates others and does not take anything from them.
Commentary on Chapter Seven: The Long Rain
Annie has a sort of breakdown because she is depressed and does not know how to continue or transform her life. Western medicine does nothing for her, and it is implied, is not as powerful as native medicine for many things. Ma Chess understands what to do for her granddaughter. She mothers her, treating her like an infant, including holding her and sleeping with her. Annie responds and has a sort of rebirth. She invents a new personality for herself to hold others at arm's length, assuming a new authority over the other girls. It's as if she is saying that she has traveled to a far country they know nothing about, and they have nothing to teach her. She makes herself into someone special and unique, enjoying her power over them. She feels more mature than the other students, who seem backward and childish to her.
Though Annie has a problem with her mother, both parents are shown as caring for her and trying in every way to make her well. They do not understand her, however, something she cannot forgive. Only the grandmother knows what she needs—attention, love, and physical care. She feeds her by hand and stays with her every moment until she is better. She recreates for Annie the lost unity with the mother.