Bent Expectations

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Bent Expectations
In the short story, “Girl,” Jamacia Kincaid chooses to use the word bent twice in the same phrase. The addition of the word bent to this phrase brings a deeper meaning to the entire general story. Through analyzing the possible meanings of the word in relation to a Caribbean mother-daughter relationship in the 1970’s we discover that the mother is determined to keep her daughter from being an outcast in society by teaching her how to be respected as she matures. This story is not only about this specific mother- daughter relationship. It reflects the conflict women go through within themselves and their families to uphold society values because they are strict, confined, and confusing but must be followed in order to be recognized positively by society. One meaning of “bent” is determined; set; resolved. This definition is directly utilized in the story. The mother tells the girl, “On Sunday try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming” (306). In the mother’s opinion the girl is determined to become a slut. But, the mother’s instructions for her daughter to act pure and innocent on Sunday demonstrate her resolve to help the girl conform to the ideals of society of how a woman should behave in public. The mother tells her daughter, “this is how you hem a dress when you see a hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming.” This lesson will keep her daughter from having a dirty, slovenly appearance. It is evident that a tidy outward exterior is important for a woman to uphold. The short story is about a mother who is “bent on” making her daughter accepted in society to help the entire family be respected. This is a responsibility that all women had to take on during the time period.

Another meaning of bent, other than determination, is curved or crooked which is interpreted with British slang as morally crooked or corrupt. It is reasonable to...
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