Curiostiy in The Little Convent Girl

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When people use expressions such as “curiosity killed the cat,” they usually don’t mean it literally. However this is a theme of Grace King’s short story, “The Little Convent Girl”. The Little Convent Girl is curious to find her mother, and see the outside world because she was never able to while living in the convent. However, because she is so used to her own lifestyle, it becomes difficult for her to accept and adapt to the American society. The Little Convent Girl’s curiosity (more than just about her mother) and her inability to adapt to the information that her curiosity reveals ultimately causes her to commit suicide.

Being raised in a convent, the Little Convent Girl knows almost nothing of the outside world. There is a very strong influence of strict Catholicism in her life because of it. She grew up with very strict rules that were almost completely different than the “rules” of American society. For example, “On Friday, she fasted rigidly, and she never began to eat, or finished without a little Latin movement of the lips and a sign of the cross. And always at six o’clock of the evening she remembered that angelus, although there was no church bell to remind her of it” (King, 2-3). Even when she is out in the real world, she still follows the rules and procedures set by the convent because she is completely ignorant to the general American’s lifestyle. These procedures show how strictly she was raised, and how devout she is to God. The general population doesn’t live life the way she does.

Also, she has become a bit of a perfectionist, in the eyes of the convent at least. She was always concerned about her sins, and while she was on the ship, traveling from Cincinnati to New Orleans, it would often make rough stop...

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...Captain could cheer her up, but even he isn’t able to save her. As she is leaving the ship, she ends her own life. She is unable to adapt to the society she was exposed to and unable to live life knowing that she is biracial. This is why she kills herself in the end of the story.

The Little Convent Girl was unable to accept the American society because she kept herself tied down to the rules of the convent. She was curious to know what was outside the walls, she wouldn’t have left it if she wasn’t. She seemed to adapt to the society at first because she would watch all the sailors work on the ship, all day. However, if she saw or heard anything that was remotely sinful, she would go back to living her rigid Catholic lifestyle. That was the problem. She couldn’t accept the fact that people were different from her, which caused her downfall in the end of the story.
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