Term Paper: Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid

Pages: 4 (1420 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Another commonality between these two characters is their relationship with their mothers, a relationship that can surely forge the feelings they have for themselves as they grow older. Lucy has a love/hate relationship with her mother, and leaves her letters unread because she cannot confront her own feelings about her mother. Her "perfect" mother lies in Mariah, who becomes a friend, rather than a mother figure, by the end of the novel. Lucy, despite her hatred for her mother, is able to recognize her great love for her mother, too. She says her mother is "perhaps the only true love in my whole life I would ever know" (Kincaid 132). This is a far different concept of motherhood than Meursault carries with him. This is a man who dislikes his mother so much that he cannot react to her death, and a day later he is swimming in the sea and beginning a new relationship. Meursault cannot grieve, and because of this, he cannot feel.

Ultimately, Meursault's life is empty and meaningless, and he may be self-aware, but he still cannot triumph and rule over that self. Camus notes, "no triumph over the self or over the world will ever be possible" (Camus 119). Meursault stands as the ultimate truth in life for many, and Camus seems to be saying through this character that the real truth is now, and that the past has no bearing on the "now." This truth is also personified in Meursault's rejection of religion. Even at the end of his life he has "no time" for abstracts such as religion, he only has time for now, and the truth of now. This is in direct contrast to many other philosophers' views of self, as Solomon notes. For example, John Locke felt "the self is that part of the mind that remembers its past" (Solomon 198). Who is right? In this story, Meursault's life frightens those around him (society), and so he pays the ultimate price for his inability to conform. Camus uses Meursault as a mirror to show society how it may collapse if it becomes so rigid that it cannot accept the abnormalities of others. Meursault's past has come back to haunt him, and Camus wants readers to know this is not a concept that should sit well with society. Lucy fulfills Camus' view of the past when she thinks to herself, "Your past is the person you no longer are, the situations you are no longer in" (Kincaid 137). Lucy puts her past behind her and rises above obstacles, and is on her way to a new life. In fact, she acknowledges her life, "stretched out ahead of me like a book of blank pages" (Kincaid 163). Lucy's life is a book of blank pages waiting to be filled, while Meursault's is a blank nothingness, waiting to end. Both characters have commonalities, but how they deal with life, and how they view themselves, is far different, and so, their lives, and their selves, come to very different conclusions. Meursault was self-aware, but unaware of those around him. Lucy is becoming more self-aware, but she is more aware of those around her, and so she can learn from their triumphs, and their mistakes. This allows her to build a much more fulfilled self than Meursault can ever imagine.

In conclusion, these two characters are quite similar in many ways, and they both embody and personify the ideas of self and self-awareness that Robert C. Solomon believes are the cornerstones of "self." These two writers use their characters to illustrate great truths in life, and to indicate how society often dictates our own self-worthiness and self-awareness. Each of these characters is unique, different, and not always socially acceptable. They exhibit flaws, (some fatal) that are not understood by society at large. Meursault's life is meaningless and empty because of his flaws, but Lucy manages to create a fulfilling and gratifying life for herself, because she has a true understanding of herself, which allows her to finally accept and understand those around her.


Camus, Albert. The Stranger. New York: Vintage International, 1988.

Kincaid, Jamaica. Lucy. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1990.

Solomon, Robert C. The… [END OF PREVIEW]

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