`` Girl `` By Jamaica Kincaid Essays

`` Girl `` By Jamaica Kincaid Essays

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Always listen to mother. Mother knows everything. Mother is always right. In Jamaica Kincaid’s short story “Girl”, smothering motherly advice is present through Kincaid’s use of a stern tone and a “how-to” format, providing instructions from an overbearing mother to her daughter on how she should live and behave as a young woman. These instructions, along with the stern tone, highlight the mother’s experience as a repressed woman and her skewed knowledge of what it means to be a female in society.
“Girl” is written in one long, ongoing sentence. This is a very apparent and specific technique used by Kincaid to create and enhance the tone of the story. The sentence begins with “Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap,” and ends with, “you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won’t let near the bread?” (201). Between these two sentences, a great deal of advice is given to the daughter of the speaker. This advice spans various areas of life ranging from how to work to how to dress; how to set the table for certain occasions to how to speak to certain people. This technique by Kincaid is intentional and effective. It illustrates a mother’s seemingly never-ending advice to her helpless offspring. Kincaid writes with the absence of periods. She uses commas and semi-colons to divide sentences, but there is no place pause; there is no place to take a breath and allow the information to sink in. It is continuous, much like how a real lecture from a mother would feel.
There are not many things more frightening than a lecturing mother. In “Girl”, Kincaid uses a voice that is rigid, judgmental and commanding, offering no room for commentary from the speaker’s daughte...


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...t have grown up with strict gender roles, forcing her to believe that the domestic duties of women were normal and would span generations. This would explain her attempt to rub the same mindset off on her daughter.
An unrelenting tone and an instructional format gives life and meaning to Kincaid’s story “Girl”. These two techniques make the text somewhat relatable to the reader’s own personal experiences with their elders. The mother’s experiences as an unknowingly repressed woman led to her skewed mentality of what it means to be a female in society. This mentality negatively affected her opinion of her daughter’s choices, making her feel as though she needed to give instruction and judgment to her daughter. Reader’s see that not everything can be passed from generation to generation. Mother isn’t always right. She isn’t all-knowing. She doesn’t always know best.

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