Land of Love and Drowning Summary & Study Guide

Tiphanie Yanique
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Land of Love and Drowning Summary & Study Guide Description

Land of Love and Drowning Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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"Land of Love and Drowning" tells the story of the Bradshaw women in the American Virgin Islands from the early 1900s through about 60 years. The family is introduced as Owen Arthur and Antoinette being the parents to Eeona and Anette, though Anette is born quite a few years after Eeona.

In Section 1, Owen Arthur is a businessman, owning a ship named The Homecoming. His wife, Antoinette, is Madame of Villa by the Sea, an inn the Bradshaws own on St. Thomas, an island in the American Virgin Islands. Antoinette is simply Owen Arthur's wife, though she aspires to be much more. Eeona's beauty is a sort of magic, as most men love her upon first sighting. Anette is not nearly as pretty, and in fact is compared to an ugly doll. Her magic is being able to expect others' arriving, as well as being able to think something and make it so.

At the beginning of the story, the Islands are still owned by the Danish, but soon after the story starts ownership is transferred to America. The people of the Virgin Islands become legal Americans, though nothing changes for them, since they're an American territory far away from the continental United States.

Eeona and her father have a consensual sexual relationship, though both are somewhat ashamed of it. Eeona's pubic hairs are sliver, and Eeona wonders if she got them from her father, since they engage in a sexual relationship and he is so much older than he is.

Antoinette and Owen Arthur call each other Madame Bradshaw and Mr. Bradshaw, indicating a somewhat formal relationship. Owen Arthur has a mistress, Rebekah, who has a hoof instead of a heal and can perform obeah, a kind of dark magic.

Antoinette is pregnant, though she doesn't want to be. In Eeona's opinion, Antoinette is jealous of her relationship with Owen Arthur. During her pregnancy with Anette, Antoinette tries to relieve her body of the fetus. She engages in a practice called "washing of the womb." She pounds her fist on her belly, and she visits Rebekah, her husband's mistress, to obtain a kind of potion that will abort the fetus. Nothing works, however, and Anette is born with fiery red hair.

Owen Arthur hopes this new baby will eliminate his feelings for Eeona, but that is not the case. His feelings remain. Owen Arthur then actively tries to rid himself of his feelings for Eeona by laying with his wife, caring for her when she's ill, sending Eeona away to Tortola to receive schooling, and letting her marry Louis Moreau, a Frenchman Eeona meets while living on Tortola. Eeona is upset with her father for abandoning their relationship, but Owen Arthur dies in a shipwreck off Anegada before the two can repair their relationship.

Jacob Esau McKenzie is introduced to the reader at the time Eeona and Louis are courting. He is a boy on St. Thomas who has the McKenzie last name, since his mother is Rebekah McKenzie, but whose birth father is Owen Arthur Bradshaw. It is an open island secret that Owen Arthur and Rebekah are lovers, but Jacob is still considered a McKenzie.

Eeona, Antoinette, and Rebekah know that Jacob is genetically a Bradshaw, not a McKenzie, but Anette doesn't since she is too young at the time of their relationship. Antoinette warns Eeona about him before she dies, but Eeona is unsure if her warning is to cautious of him or to care for him.

Anette learns to swim at 11 months old. Antoinette teaches her because her people are from Anegada and are of the sea, and so Antoinette is determined to make her daughters the same. They go to a beach where nobody will bother them, just so Antoinette doesn't get criticized for teaching an 11-month-old how to swim.

After Owen Arthur dies, Antoinette sees this as her opportunity to be free. She escapes to New York City, leaving Eeona in charge of Villa by the Sea and Anette. In America, Antoinette meets a dead end when she tries to sign up for a Fashion Institute for Coloreds, and so comes back to St. Thomas just to die.

Eeona and Anette move to an area on St. Thomas called Savan, where Eeona tries to teach Anette how to be a lady. Ladylikeness isn't something Anette cares about, but she pays attention for Eeona's sake. One day, as they are playing on a beach, Rebekah and her sons are on the same beach. Jacob and Anette meet for the first time, but are quickly taken away from each other by Rebekah.

With both of their parents gone, Eeona and Anette must find a new way to live. Eeona tries to send Anette to an orphanage on St. Croix to protect her from Jacob. She meets with Mrs. Lovernkrandt, one of her father's former business partner's wives, to see if they can work out a deal for Eeona to make a living. Their interaction goes sour, however, and Eeona leaves the Lovernkrandt home with no prospect of a job.

The narrator returns to tell the reader of the McKenzie men, as it is an essential piece of the novel that Jacob is named McKenzie but not actually a McKenzie. McKenzie men can only breed men. They cannot love other and are difficult to love because of their difficulty in showing affection. The McKenzie men are considered odd, yet are held in somewhat high esteem on the Islands.

Anette knows of Eeona's plan to send her to the orphanage on St. Croix, and so Anette intentionally throws a big fit on the docks the morning of the boat's departure so that she may not be let on the boat. It works, and Eeona and Anette remain together.

As Section 2 starts, some time has passed. Anette is sick with a fever. When the fever breaks, her friend Ronald is by her side. Eeona tries to get Anette to go to church so Anette can heal, but Nelson their ass (mule) won't keep Anette on his back. Ronald brings Anette fish and water, which is exactly what Anette was thinking that she wanted.

Ronald is a boy who loves Anette, but Anette doesn't love him back. She only likes him as a friend. Eeona doesn't approve of him as a mate for Anette since she believes he comes from a lower class of Islander. However, Ronald is persistent in his pursuit of Anette and is genuine in his affection for her. Eeona ends up approving mainly because Ronald is not Jacob McKenzie.

Ronald leaves the Islands with other men his age, as they are drafted for the war, and it is during his absence that Anette decides his affection is true and steady. When he returns from training, the two marry.

While Anette is busy marrying Ronald and then living with his mother, Eeona works for Mr. Barry at the Hospitality Lounge. She is in love with the air conditioning in his building, but Mr. Barry is in love with Eeona. She works for him to earn a salary so she can work toward the free, independent, and wealthy life she so desires.

Mr. Barry proposes to Eeona 40 times with a different bouquet of flowers each time. Eeona begins considering his proposals because she loves the air conditioning in his building so much, but after she lets him relieve her sexually, Eeona feels dirty. Mr. Barry then is the only living person to see and know about Eeona's silver pubic hair.

Jacob is in the Army and is in the same unit as Ronald. Jacob is clearly different than his McKenzie brothers, as he is brilliant and capable of loving. While he is away for the Army, Rebekah sends him packages with sweet cherries, treating him as her most cherished son. The man everyone thinks is his father is Benjamin McKenzie, Rebekah's first husband whom she banished to a forest on another island using obeah.

Back on St. Thomas, Anette discovers that she's pregnant from when Ronald was home between training and reporting to his military base in New Orleans. Both she and Eeona are surprised at the pregnancy.

In New Orleans, Jacob, Ronald, and their soldier friend Spice experience racism. The soldiers are surprised by this because technically, they are Americans, and they are fighting in World War II to protect their home country. They are refused service at a restaurant and leave the restaurant without causing trouble.

In their downtown, Ronnie shows Anette picture to his friends on a regular basis. Jacob tries to not look at the photo too often, because when he does he feels like he knows her and wants to know her even more.

Again on St. Thomas, Eeona asks Anette how she and Ronald plan to love Ronalda, their daughter, well enough, since Anette never had a proper example of how to love. Anette isn't worried about it and decides that she and Ronnie will love and raise Ronalda on their own, without Ronnie's mother's or Eeona's pushy opinions.

As the boys continue to experience racism in New Orleans, they begin causing trouble. They decide to walk into a restaurant that refused to serve them and demand service while holding their weapons on their shoulders. The boys are split up by the Army in the hopes they will stop causing trouble. Jacob wants to go home, and so causes enough trouble that will get him kicked out of the service.

Jacob is to return home on the same boat as Ronnie. Anette shows up to the docks to greet Ronnie, but is dismayed when he isn't there. She sees Jacob kiss the ground, but thinks nothing of him. Anette is most upset because she knows her husband got off that boat, but Ronnie wasn't on it. Coinciding with her feelings, Jacob returns to St. Thomas only to feel incomplete, though he's unsure why.

Anette gives Ronald a divorce letter since she doesn't feel faithful to him after what she sense at the docks the day he didn't arrive. Soon thereafter, Anette meets Jacob at a dance at a Catholic school. The two feel like they've known each other for a long time, even though they just met. The two share a passionate kiss before the night is over, causing Eeona to become upset with Anette for breaking her promise to Ronnie.

Eeona, feeling frustrated with Anette for what Eeona sees as reckless decisions, goes to the docks to return her boat ticket to New York City. Instead, Eeona spontaneously gets on a boat to Freedom City, St. Croix, giving in to her wildness and her desperate desire for freedom.

Anette is happy about her choice to be with Jacob, though she misses her sister. Jacob, too, is happy about his choice to be with Anette, but when he shares the news with Rebekah, she doesn't join in his enthusiasm. She begs him to be with any woman but her. Jacob loves his mother, but knows that she's capable of sending a curse. He's unsure of what to do, and goes to a bar to drink instead of dealing with his problems.

On St. Croix, Eeona is free from her obligations on St. Thomas. She meets Kweku Prideux, who is Benjamin McKenzie just renamed. Kweku and Eeona share a sexual encounter on Kweku's balcony. Even though his thick body hair disgusts Eeona, she lets it go so she can feel desired. She wants to be madame of his octagonal home, so she continues in the relationship despite Benjamin's lack of affection. When Eeona becomes pregnant, Kweku backs off even more.

Jacob, Anette, and Ronalda spend the day together at the beach, and then later that night Jacob picks the two girls up from their home in the midnight hour so they can return to the beach. While there at night, Ronalda feeds off of Anette's breast and simultaneously, Jacob and Anette are intimate with one another.

Back on St. Croix, Eeona continues to hope Kweku will come around to caring for her and the baby. Unfortunately, the baby is stillborn. Eeona names the baby Owen Arthur, since no one but herself knows what the means to her, and Kweku throws the baby off the balcony. It is not long after Eeona regains her strength and makes her way back home to her sister.

Anette becomes pregnant while Eeona was away and gives birth to Jacob's baby girl whom they name Youme. Rebekah threatens Jacob with having to go to Korea to help fight the Korean War if he doesn't go to medical school. Jacob loves Anette but also wants to be completely worthy of her, which he feels he can't do until he's a man.

Section 3 begins where the previous section left off, with Anette at the airport devastated that Jacob has gone to America. With Jacob gone, Anette is heartbroken. So much so, that when she is approached about being a chambermaid, she ignores the offer and just goes home to bed instead of putting up a fight. Eventually, however, Anette seems to lose hope that he'll actually come back someday. He starts going to dances, and at one of them reunites with a childhood friend, Franky. In grade school, Franky had built Anette a house out of aluminum, but Eeona made her give it back, saying such a gift and such a boy were beneath the Bradshaw women.

Anette enjoys Franky's company, and Franky is patient in his pursuit of her. Franky is a Coast Guardsman and takes his responsibilities very seriously. He mans a local lighthouse and is known for his fidelity to his work and to his relationships.

While the two are dating, they go to Water Island to participate in a movie filming on the beach. Anette wears a the red fabric Jacob gifted her in place of a wedding ring so that everyone can see she is fine. They enjoy the movie filming experience, and afterwards a bonfire with the stars from the movie. Anette becomes upset, however, and wishes the star's blond hair to catch fire. When it does catch fire as the girl is playing limbo near the bonfire, Anette is immediately inwardly ashamed.

On their way home, Anette puts her hand on Franky's thigh, which he takes to mean she is in love with him. He pulls to the side of the road and proposes right there. Anette doesn't want to say yes, but she doesn't know how to say no. Franky has been so patient and so faithful in his pursuit of her, and she knows he'll make a good, steady husband.

Since Anette and Jacob are written to be star-crossed lovers, when Anette becomes engaged is when Jacob feels the need to write to one of his brothers still living on St. Thomas to ask if she is indeed engaged. The brother answers yes, and Jacob works quickly to make it back to St. Thomas. Jacob knows he can't marry Anette, but he doesn't want anyone else to have her either. Jacob is too late, as Franky and Anette marry on a whim.

Jacob's brother Saul visits Anette to give her a note Jacob has written her. He wants to meet her at an appointed time and place. However, when Anette asks Franky what Franky would do if Anette left him, his strong, angry response causes Anette to remain with Franky. Jacob is devastated and responds to his heartbreak by switching his specialty from pediatrics to gynecology.

The movie is released into theaters in the United States and on the Islands. It ends up being a soft core porn movie, and the provocativeness of the film stars and the use of the Virgin Islands and her people in such a film is an embarrassment to the Islanders. The governor of the Islands complains, but every grievance is dropped because the Gull Reef Club made and continues to make a lot of money from the film.

In Section 4, Franky gets a promotion at the lighthouse to head keeper. He and Anette have reconciled from their briefly tense evening when Anette was thinking of leaving him. Jacob returns to St. Thomas as a married gynecologist. Youme uses him as her gynecologist, and a maid brings her to and from his office so that Jacob and Franky don't have to interact.

Eeona warms to her new family, approving of Franky since he is not Jacob and is a steadfast husband for Anette. She gets a job with the government administering loans so she can help Franky build the house he wants to build for Anette. She also uses her money to become even more independent, purchasing a car and eventually her own inn on another island. For now, though, she enjoys her time with Anette's family as she saves her own money and continues to hope for her lasting freedom.

The Civil Rights Movement begins in the continental United States, and the social unrest carries over the Virgin Islands. Islanders debate the situation among themselves, as they have a hard time believing people are being treated the way it is being described on the radio and on the television. Their national identity is tested, as they wonder to whom they belong if they're not welcome in the States even though they're Americans. They wonder if their freedom means anything.

Anette's children—three now, since she and Franky had a boy named Frank—are quiet and scared as the television reports of protests, sit-ins, police raids, and physical abuse of Civil Rights Movement participants. Ronalda seems touched by the events more so than the other two children, as she takes the act of slavery and abuse of blacks to heart.

It is at this time Eeona moves to the island of St. John, purchasing and running her very own inn. She now quickly cultivates the exact life she wants, one of wealth and status, as she's known as Mada Bradshaw around her property. She periodically visits Anette's family, and when she does she stays with Youme in Youme's bed. As soon as Youme falls asleep, Eeona tells her Duene and Anancy folklore. Franky, Ronalda, and Anette listen in, all having different opinions on the stories.

Section 5 is all about Hurricane Mary. She is a strong storm that destroys houses all around the Joseph's home, but the home Franky built for Anette remains standing. Ronalda is in the States during the hurricane and is unhappy with the state of the nation, namely the racism plaguing the culture.

Franky is away during the storm, since he is in the Coast Guard and must work to help the Island. Youme, Frank, and Anette stick together during the storm. In a fleeting thought, Anette wishes Franky dead. She immediately unwishes it and wants to unthink it, but Youme has already heard the thought, as it is then the reader discovers Youme can read and hear her mother's thoughts.

On St. John, Eeona and her inn are safe, though Kweku's octagonal home is destroyed by Mary.

Franky returns after the hurricane with a renewed sense of gratitude for his life and for life on the island, which has returned to the way it was before modernization brought electricity and running water. Islanders are happy with this way of life because they feel it is more organic to their way of living.

Section 6 is all about the BOMB, the Beach Occupation Movement and Bacchanal. As part of the BOMB, Islanders are tired of being run out of their land, specifically their beaches, by tourists and wealthy white people on the island who own the tourism destinations. Islanders hold sit-ins, wade-ins, swim-ins, and general protests to have their demands met.

Eeona is back from St. John, and during one of her visits with Anette's family follows Youme into the bathroom, only to discover that Youme has silver pubic hair as well as a hoof for a heel and a foot that is turned backwards. She immediately recognizes the oddities as a curse, since Anette and Jacob were not supposed to meet and mate in the first place.

Anette, Franky, Youme, and Frank go to the beach for a family day. However, they are not there long before they are asked to leave by a man who points to a woman waving from a balcony; she owns the beach and insists that the Joseph's leave. The Josephs leave without commotion, but are not happy about it. It is here the BOMB is born, since natives don't believe they should be asked to leave their own beaches.

Anette and Jacob meet at the Hibiscus Hotel and Restaurant to discuss Youme's condition. During a bathroom break, Anette discovers that the establishment used to be Villa by the Sea, the place in which Anette was born. Anette also learns that she and Jacob are half-brother and sister, which is a detail that makes her feel as though her life is ruined. She leaves the hotel and goes back home to her family, trying to forget about her love for Jacob.

Anette tries to contact Eeona, likely to discuss her relation to Jacob, but Eeona has left a note with one of the workers at her inn stating, "I am more wild than Mama." She can only focus on one thing at a time, so for the time being, Anette gets on the radio and encourages Islanders to get on their beaches so they can show the white and the wealthy folks that their native land is just that, their land.

Frank and Youme get heavily involved in the BOMB. The largest beach occupation during the movement takes place on Water Island, where the tourists feel invaded by the natives. Frank makes it into the water and swims until he is caught. Youme is also touched by the cause and runs in the ocean, losing the top of half of her clothes and underwear as she goes. She inspires others to get into the water, as well, showing solidarity among the Islanders. Frank is jailed for his actions. When he returns home, he tells Youme he is proud of her actions.

The BOMB ends after three months when the Free Beach Act is passed. Native islanders can enjoy their beaches once again. At the conclusion of the section, Eeona returns from wherever she had run away.

In the seventh and final section, Jacob begins the storytelling. He offers Youme a chance to fix her heel and backwards foot, but she declines, opting to stay exactly as she is.

Anette goes to find and visit Eeona on St. John's island. Even though Eeona has been missing for some time, there have been recent sightings of her on the island. At her inn, Anette stays in a room that is exactly like her childhood bedroom. She forcefully enters Eeona's room, as it is locked, and discovers Eeona has written poems, sayings, and lyrics all over her walls. When Eeona returns, Anette demands to know where she's been.

The reader finds out that Eeona has been in Anegada, visiting her mother's people who are, by extension, her people. Eeona visits with a woman named Angela and Angela's husband. The three of them go into the sea, as Eeona wants to see the wreckage of The Homecoming. She sees it, but is unable to sink deep enough to touch it.

Eeona tells Anette that she is going to take Youme for the two of them live on Anegada, because there Youme will find people just like her. Though Anette slightly protests at first, Eeona is insistent. Eeona cuts her hair, handing the cut strands to Anette, who eventually releases them into sky.

At the conclusion of the novel, Jacob and Anette are sitting on a bench reading a letter from Youme, who has gone to live with her aunt on Anegada. Jacob and Anette are still in love with one another, but each have remained faithful to their respective spouses. Jacob and Anette see each other romantically in their dreams, but in real life, they are only the parents of a young woman each married to someone else.

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