Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

English (M.A.)

Degree Program



The narrators of Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John, Lucy, and A Small Place all struggle to form a coherent sense of self while living within the colonial ideology that objectifies them and denies them identities as speaking subjects. In this thesis, Julia Kristeva’s theories of language and subject formation are used to explain why and how the narrators’ subjectivity is limited by colonial discourse. Particular attention is given to the way in which the narrators’ relationships with their mothers both threaten and necessitate their emergence into Kristeva’s symbolic order of language, and therefore into the colonial discourse community. The thesis also explores the role of literacy in the narrators’ identity formation and the way in which their literacy environments both provide them with opportunities to speak back to colonial discourse and rob them of the ability to do so. It is argued that the narrators, despite their attempts to forge identities as speaking subjects, are ultimately restricted to the role of objects of colonial discourse. Kincaid does, however, write ambiguous endings to suggest that even from their positions as objects, the narrators are able to open up spaces from which they could speak by moving outside the master-slave dichotomy.