Jamaica Kincaid, “Girl”

The first thing I noticed when I started reading “Girl” is that is one big paragraph, it has semicolons that separate the list of things that the mother tells the daughter and that makes me wonder why the writer arranged the story this way?. The only reason that comes to my head is that she wants the reader to feel overwhelm as the girl in the story who has to listen to all that information, instructions, so that she can be a proper young lady in the culture that the mother would like her to know about.

Kincaid uses particular words to gives us clues about the setting of the story. She uses words like pepper pot, benna, doukona, okra, this words tells us that we are in a Caribbean island especially with benna which is calypso music.

Describing the two characters in the story, the one that speaks the most is the mother or maybe the grandmother. She is strict, bossy, controlling, and I think she worries about what others might say or think about her daughter. She gives her lots instructions for household duties like how to iron clothes, how to sweep, how to set the table, and I think the reason for this is that so her daughter is well prepared for life. Another important reason is culture how to hand down traditions and she does that by giving her an advice “this is how you make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child” so this passing down feminine wisdom.

There is a word in the story that recurs three times and that word is “slut” I feel like the daughter is being accuse of being a slut even-dough in the story there is no evidence that supports such an accusation. That makes me ask why the mother is calling her slut. The reason I can come up with is that the mother worries that the daughter turn out to be just like her when she was young, she may be made some mistakes and she doesn’t want her daughter to do the same.

The second character is the girl she only has two lines in the story so it is kind of hard to tell what kind of character she even is however this two lines shows us a few characteristics like she does not have a lot of power in the relationship with her mother. She tries to behave but also protest when call slut “but I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school” she seems to be defending herself. She is the recipient of all this rules and instructions and her job is to learned them all because being a woman is going to be really complicated.

4 thoughts on “Jamaica Kincaid, “Girl”

  1. My first reaction was similar to yours, that this person must be her mother or grandmother, because the way she was describing the whole thing it felt like she must be really strict. i m surprised by the fact you noticed they were Caribbean. i didn’t think of that

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