Girl/Woman Work Socio-Historical Critique

Topics: Woman, Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Pages: 4 (1436 words) Published: November 29, 2011
Claudette Woodhouse
Professor Lea Ann Douglas
English 112
29 October 2011

Any and everything can influence a work of literature. Life experiences, life choices, political events, time periods, or even time eras. In lieu of this concept it can be assumed that an interesting life may produce interesting poetry or stories. Two phenomenal women, Maya Angelou and Jamaica Kincaid portray two different points of view in their works of literature. A lot of things can contribute to their differences, but in particularly their upbringing is a major cause of their variances. In Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl,” a young girl has the “rules of the world” drilled into her head by her scolding mother while in Maya Angelou’s “Woman Work” a mother faces the adversities of her life on her own. With such different positions in life and different relationships with elders, when paired against the other each of the poems have contrasting views due to their author’s lives.

The females in “Woman Work” and “Girl” are complete opposites. One subject is a young girl being taught “rules of life” by her mother while the other is a mother herself. The woman in “Woman Work” is experiencing the hardships of life taking it day by day. On the other hand, the young girl in “Girl” is being taught “rules” so that she can achieve what the woman in “Woman Work” has, a good standing, a family, a home, and things to tend to. With the young adolescent in “Girl” just now entering the world and being exposed to the harsh realities so soon, it creates a dark contrast to the airy tone of “Woman Work” portrayed through the woman’s actions and words. Taking a look at the life of Jamaica Kincaid, growing up in Antigua and moving to the United States to work as an au pair at the very tender age of seventeen, is a sign of her parents want for her to be “respectable making a good living.” At the point where she began to write her poetry they disapproved; just as the mother in “Girl” disapproves of her...
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