Inevitable Change | Teen Ink

Inevitable Change

April 18, 2021
By Anonymous

Inevitable Change

    “People don’t make changes because things are wonderful,” writes Jamaica Kincaid, author of the compelling novel Annie John published in 1985. This story tells the coming of age story of a young girl named Annie John living on the island of Antigua. Kincaid’s words echo throughout Annie’s life: Annie idealized her childhood and cannot easily accept the inevitable changes that come with maturing; she eventually learns to accept and even embrace these changes as she becomes increasingly independent. This coming of age experience is universal and relevant to modern world readers. Annie’s insecurity about growth, her changing relationships, and her ultimate acceptance as she reaches young adulthood resonate with teens who face similar challenges and anxiety today.
    Similar to circumstances many teenagers face today, Annie is sensitive and insecure because she is scared of losing the attention and love from her mother as she ages. In fact, Annie associates growth with the loss of love and attention from her mother. In chapter three, when Annie’s mother shows Annie how to store linen, she says, “of course, in your own house you might choose another way". Hearing this, Annie painfully realizes that “the day [may] actually come when [they will] live apart” and feels “her throat hurt from the tears she [holds] bottled up tight inside” (Ch. 3). This incident shows that Annie is scared of the changes that come with growth, especially ones that will alter her relationship with her mother.
    However, as Annie ages, her mother expects her to become more independent. For instance, when Annie asks her mother if they can make new clothes for both of them using one beautiful cloth she saw in the store, her mother rejects her, saying that Annie is “getting too old for that” and “cannot go around [the] rest of her life looking like a little [her]” (Ch.3). Annie reflects upon this incident disappointedly: “[I am] never able to wear [my] own dress or see [my] mother in hers without feeling bitterness and hatred” (Ch. 3). Her mother’s words are without malice, yet still reflects the natural progression and change in their mother-and-daughter relationship as Annie matures. However, Annie sees her mother’s intentions as proof that she does not love her as much as she used to. She is unable to accept this change in their connection, and she thus believes it to be her mother’s betrayal of her loyalty and love; her immense love towards her mother immediately turns into hate.
    This idea is relatable to teenage readers today as they also face similar challenges of being insecure about changes and fearing the loss from growth. According to, teenagers today face a huge problem of insecurity during adolescence with their hormonal changes and social pressures (Teenage Insecurities). It is during this vital age where the bond between parents and children tends to weaken and change the most, reflecting the same challenge that Annie has faced. 
    As Annie grows up, she begins to replace the presence of her mother with her friend Gwen; however, their relationship changes after Annie further matures and realizes fundamental differences between the two, an experience relatable to readers. At first, Gwen is Annie’s best friend and one of the most important people in her life. After making this new friend, Annie says that "when I was younger I had been afraid of my mother's death, but that since I [have] met Gwen this [doesn’t] matter so much” (Ch.3). This vivid change in heart contrasts from her previous obsession over her mother: as Annie ages, she replaces the cherished, almost divine, position of her mother in her life with Gwen. However, as Annie begins to meet new friends and attend different classes, their relationship changes. When Gwen comes to say goodbye to Annie before she leaves for England, Annie notices that Gwen has become very different and is embarrassed about “the feelings [she] used to have for [Gwen] and [the] things [she] had shared with [her]” (Ch.8). This realization shows another drastic change in Annie’s relationship. Annie understands the fundamental differences between herself and Gwen: Annie wants to leave Antigua and is not satisfied with simply marriage. Instead, she yearns for more knowledge. These differences between them made them apart and consequently implies that their friendship can never be the same.
   Again, this experience is relatable to modern readers as they experience their own changes in relationships with their friends. Change is inevitable in every stage of life, and one’s values and aspirations will change with growth. As a result, this will lead to finding new friends and leaving old ones behind as one’s expectation and perception of friendship also alters. Friends that used to be irreplaceable like Gwen to Annie gradually will become not as important as before. 
    Ultimately, Annie transitions from fearing growth to accepting and embracing independence. For example, after Annie recovers from her sickness and is about to sail to England for nursing, she looks at her parents and ponders about their relationship from a newer and more mature perspective: “they are together and here I am apart. I don't see them now the way I used to, and I don't love them now the way I used to. The bitter thing about it is that they are just the same and it is I who have changed” (Ch.8). This meaningful moment of acceptance starkly contrasts with her previous fear of change. Here, Annie fully acknowledges growth and its consequential changes. She understands that she no longer sees and loves them “the way [she] used to” (Ch. 8). This connects to readers today who, after going through challenges of fearing growth and journeys of changing relationships, finally learn to accept and embrace the changes like how Annie does. 
    Throughout this story, Annie transitions from having a strong fear and anxiety towards changes from growth to learning to be accepting as she matures and experiences changed relationships; the lesson that Annie learns from her experience is still relevant and vital to readers, especially teenagers, today. Kincaid is right when she said that “people don’t make changes because things are wonderful.” People are always reluctant to step out of their comfort zone, where things are easy and familiar to them. In many ways, growth is a process of stepping out of that familiar and comfortable territory to face new challenges and changes, which often results in resisting feelings like those of Annie. But if things happened like what followed when coming into age, that nobody could help. Readers should learn to accept the changes as Annie does at the end.

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