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Girl by Jamaica Kincaid

Autor:   •  February 28, 2012  •  Essay  •  880 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,381 Views

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"Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid

Jamaica Kincaid, who now lives in New England, was born on the island of Antigua in the West Indies. She is a very strong and independently successful woman. Originally attending college after she immigrated to the United States, she gained her education mainly on the own. Having been a writer for The New Yorker, the author of several published popular novels, and an instructor at Harvard University, she can be considered very accomplished. About the influence of parents on children she says, "The magic is the carry so much you don't know about. They know you in a way you don't know yourself."("524-525") Kincaid allows the reader to catch a glimpse of her personal life without allowing it to overshadow the story. She shows her feelings towards parenthood and gives a slight view of her upbringing in the story "Girl."

"Girl" is a one-sentence dialogue between a mother and daughter. It displays an energetic, dynamic illustration of the social creation of gender, provides a gripping record of long-established gender stereotypes, and suggests a great deal about the controlling roles between men and women. This is all produced in little more than a page and without alternative sociological language or heavy conception. There is no introduction of the characters, no action, and no description of setting. The story simply begins with the mother's voice giving such basic, kindhearted, and suitably maternal advice as "Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry.''

This story invites the reader to listen in as a mother advises her daughter on what's "right" and "wrong" for a young girl in matters of manners, love, integrity, work, and personal relationships. The mother does most of the talking as she delivers a long series of instructions and warnings to the daughter. The young girl only twice responds, and seems to be ignored by the mother. It seems as though "Girl" is based on Kincaid's own life and her relationship with her mother. Although the setting is not specified in the story, Kincaid was born in Antigua, a place where traditional upbringing is not uncommon.

The rhythm and beauty of the language is what originally drew me to this story. The mother-daughter relationship fascinating especially as it changes and develops throughout the volume. However, I can also understand how some readers would find Kincaid's


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