Lucy: A Novel – Annie Potter

Annie Potter, Lucy’s mother, constitutes a major force in the novel,
despite her physical absence. Often referred to as godlike, she provides the
motivation for much of Lucy’s behavior, for Lucy has made escaping her mother’s
influence the supreme goal of her life. But as Lucy herself admits, she and her
mother have much in common, so much so that as a child, Lucy thought of her
mother as an extension of herself. Like Lucy, Annie possesses a sharp tongue and
a strong mind, and she vacillates between nurture and withdrawal. Unlike Lucy,
however, Annie has spent her life playing the part of the proper woman,
attempting to instill in Lucy values of prudence and submission that Lucy
believes go against both their natures. Whereas Lucy’s mother has made little
use of her intelligence and married a man who has a bevy of other women, Lucy
takes pains to avoid following the same path.
Lucy’s anger at her mother, however, goes beyond a disagreement about life
choices and principles. Lucy calls her mother the great love of her life, and
much of her rage is derived from what she sees as her mother’s rejection of that
love with the birth of her brothers. From the difficult relationships that Lucy
builds with the other women to her lack of true intimacy with men, the specter
of Lucy’s lost love for her mother haunts her every move. Lucy’s feelings for
her mother replicate her attitude toward her colonized homeland, which she both
longs for and spurns in her mission to honor her true self. Only when Lucy
attempts to resolve those feelings, by at once showing compassion for her mother
and removing her from her life, can she begin to move forward by leaving
Mariah’s home. Thus, Lucy’s mother both inspires and undermines Lucy’s quest for
freedom, as Lucy attempts to flee the most important and persistent emotional
bond of her existence.