"Girl" Jamaica Kincaid Response

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A Mother’s Words
A mother’s words are the ones that ring loudest in a child’s ear, are passed down from generation to generation, and the one’s that hold a special place in a child’s memory and heart forever. Expectations and guidelines are set at a young age. Morals and values are learned throughout the years, and life lessons are taught through the wisdom passed down from a mother to a daughter. Every mother has a wish for their daughter to be the best they can be. But at what point does instruction and wisdom become simply words that have been said one too many times? The short story “Girl,” written by Jamaica Kincaid is presented to the reader as a list of instructions from a mother to a daughter on how to live life to the fullest, while still being a lady. The mother seems to be almost obsessive about her daughter’s future social status and is making sure her daughter knows, even at a young age, just what she is not supposed to become. Kincaid uses repetition and metaphor in order to convey the message that it is important for a woman to respect herself and keep promiscuity to a minimum.

When reading “Girl,” the reader must make inferences based off of hints in the text. This will bring them to the conclusion that the person speaking is indeed a mother talking to her daughter. Not once in this short story does Kincaid use the words mother or daughter, instead she uses subtle hints to inquire that this is so. For instance, at the beginning of the story the mother states “soak your little cloths right after you take them off” (202). The use of the word “little” helps the reader understand that the person being spoken to is small and more than likely a child. It is also mentioned that the daughter must learn to “iron [her] father’s khaki pants,” at this point it is almost made positive that the person being spoken to is a child that is growing up and will need to take on her mother’s chores soon (200). The reader can also make the assumption...
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