Reading Response #1

Girl by Jamaica Kincaid is apparently about a list of commands that a girl is expected to follow. One thing I noticed while reading the text is that there’s repetition of words. For example, “this is how…” is used throughout the story. “This is how to sew on a button; this is how to make a buttonhole for the button you have just sewed on; this is how….” In my opinion, the girl is talked down upon and seen as nothing more than a servant or slave. She is told how to do certain chores. It seems like she has to make preparations for dinner with a guest. “Cook pumpkin fritters in very hot sweet oil.” “Soak salt fish overnight before you cook it.” “This is how you sweep a corner; this is how you sweep a whole house; this is how you sweep a yard.” “This is how you smile to someone you don’t like too much; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely.” “This is how you set a table for tea; this is how you set a table for dinner; this is how you set a table for dinner with an important guest; this is how you set a table for lunch; this is how you set a table for breakfast.” The girl is constantly facing verbal abuse. The narrator called the girl a slut three times in the passage. “On Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming.” “This is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming.” “This is how to behave in the presence of men who don’t know you very well, and this way they won’t recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming.” The story seems to be a reminder of the suppression that women experience in society. Girl appears to reflect the submissive role that females are expected to maintain in a household. That role represents a tradition or reputation that they’re always relied on to uphold. The girl is revealed to have a father. “This is how you iron your father’s khaki shirt so that it doesn’t have a crease; this is how you iron your father’s khaki pants so that they don’t have a crease.” Perhaps the story is told from the point of view of her mother. If so, the girl’s mother might be teaching her what’s expected out of a female. It could possibly be considered tough love. If the narrator is the girl’s mother, then she’s possibly training her daughter so that she’ll become a future caregiver or housewife. I think Girl portrays society’s idea that women are meant to take and obey orders from men and other authoritative figures. I think the story is to remind females to break free from the submissive role that society usually wants them to have.

One thought on “Reading Response #1

  1. Kina

    I agree with you and it seems that the girl is not being listen to like when the mother asked ” is it true that you sing benna in Sunday school?” had she waited for the daughter to respond she would have found out that the girl don’t “But I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school.” I do feel like she is being talked down on. It also seem that the girl is not allowed to be herself or express her self it seems that she always have to wear a smile.

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