Jamaica Kincaid: Girl

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Reflections on Jamaica Kincaid’s Short Story, Girl

Seeing a child who is ostracized for being a slut is a mother’s worst nightmare. The short story Girl, is a perfect example; insofar as, it deals with the experience of being a young female in a poor country, and a mother’s concern for her daughter’s respect. Girl mainly consists of single lined sentences of advice that the mother gives to her daughter in order to prevent her from losing respect for becoming a slut. However, in doing so she is subconsciously condemning her preadolescent daughter to a life of promiscuity. The mother portrays herself as the only person in the world who can save her daughter from living a life of disrespect. She believes her daughter has already started down the wrong path so she furiously tells her to “walk like a lady [and] to always eat [her] food in such a way that it won't turn someone else's stomach.” (Kincaid, 90) In some ways, the mother is wise: not only does she know how to cook, clean, and maintain a busy household, but she also has a good sense of social etiquette. Knowing how to “behave in the presence of men [she] doesn’t know very well…and how to “smile at someone [she] doesn’t like…[and] like completely” (Kincaid, 90) indicates that she knows how to act around the diverse people in her area. For the mother, domestic knowledge and knowing how to interact with people bring happiness along with respect from family and the larger community. Her instructions suggest that social standing within the community bears a great deal of weight in their lives. Although after her rant, she seems to think that none of her wisdom will make any difference and that her daughter is already destined for a vile lifestyle. She even repeatedly hints that the girl wants to live promiscuously and be a “slut” (Kincaid, 90). Despite the mother’s unkind remarks and accusations, the fact that she knows how to “make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a...
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