“Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid
The short story “Girl” is an indication of the expected connection between a mother and her daughter. The girl is introduced (by her mother) to moral conducts that are appropriate for women in the society. According to the story, all the behaviors prescribed to women have to be followed strictly and passed from one generation to another. So, the moral focus of the story is to show the value of familial correlation in shaping a person’s behavior. Here are main points illustrated in the Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”:
- Parents can dominate their children;
- Mothers can offer both positive and negative information to daughters;
- The community imposes stereotypes on the girl-child.
Parents can dominate their children
Parents can be overbearing on their kids at sometimes. This aspect is shown in the whole story because much views and information are presented by the mother while offering less points-of-view of the girl. Most lines in the story are talking about the mother’s perspective which makes the reader wonder what the girl actually thinks.
Kincaid’s story shows how parents can dominate their children to the extent of not allowing them to give their own opinions. For instance, when the mother advises the girl not to sing “benna” in Sunday schools, she keeps stressing on this point without even asking to know if the daughter has ever sung the song. This shows that the girl should only listen rather than uttering a word in the conversation. The tone presented by the keyword “should not” doesn’t consider any probability of containing the girl’s own opinion.
Mothers can offer both positive and negative information to daughters
From the story, the reader can learn that a mother gives beneficial information to the girl-child. It is apparent that women should be exposed to a lot of information on cooking and doing different house chores (which are all positive), but there is some irrelevant information like singing “benna” or playing the marble game with boys that can impact on the social relationship of a child. In many aspects, the mother expresses her own opinion on what’s right or wrong. For example, the mother speaks to the daughter on the necessity of covering her head and walk ‘like a woman on Sundays’ when the sun is up. According to the mother, walking bareheaded during the day is immoral, and she expects the girl to emulate specific behaviors accepted in the society.
However, there is certain advice (like a procedure to carry out an abortion) that can have a negative impact to a girl because of the unprofessional prescription of medicines which might have an adverse effect on the health. Negative information also leads to a child growing up with no knowledge of how to cope up and cooperate with others. For example, the mother forbids the girl to play the ‘marble game’ with boys. If children don’t interact in their childhood, it will be difficult for them to establish a good social relationship in their adulthood.
The community imposes stereotypes on the girl-child
The society imposes stereotypes on Kincaid’s Girl condition. Due to the discriminatory advice (like no playing marbles with boys) given to the girls by mothers, the society has set limits concerning the socialization of lasses. The community only thinks that a woman should be busy doing house chores and cooking, but not engaging in activities ‘meant’ for men. Such negative and biased pieces of advice establish a gap between boys and girls. A disparaging remark of addressing a girl as “a slut” whenever she would be seen interacting with boys, is evident in most lines. Referring to a girl this way makes women feel discriminated in the society. Since the mother experienced the same during her childhood, she would also expect girls to understand and cope up with the biased society. Thus, gender discrimination is a generational problem in the community.
Conclusively, the story seems to have some comic effect in the very beginning, although examining it further widens the idea of reading it. The girl is the first and possibly most important part of the collection, which highlights Jamaica Kincaid’s evocative use of language, as she explores themes of enculturation and the “patriarchal politics of oppression.”