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The Main Ideas Of The Short Story "Girl" By Jamaica Kincaid

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Jamaica Kincaid in her “Girl” story had a significant voice in modern literature. She was widely honored for her work in short fiction, novels, and essays in which she discovered the serious relationship between mother and daughter as well as themes of anti-colonialism. “Girl” by Jamaica is a first-person narrative, the personality is narrating her story. The words in “Girl” story are all Mom’s words, it seems like the girl remembered all the advices that her mom told her as a child and when she’s all grown up. The girl is the one talking in the story. Even though, we feel like the girl is helpless at first, because she only ‘speaks’ twice to protect herself. Kincaid’s narrative technique gave the girl all the power. She chooses the advice that she’s telling us, and she puts everything in the order that she wants. Instead of doing all the listening, Girl is doing all the talking. The story is told from a feminist point of view. Kinkaid uses the mother as the second person narrator, giving her an authorial speech. The short story “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid, is a major example of mother and daughter relationship. The theme is strongly suggesting that a woman should be rational and there is a certain way that she should act. Many elder women feel that a woman’s role in life is to be abiding the law. The theme of girl reinforces this opinion. The story discovers themes of sexual reputation, domesticity and the complexity of a mother/daughter relationship and showing how it defines what it means to be a woman, and shapes the way women are expected to behave.

Girl narrator had many literature concepts like Imagery which is to use symbolic language to represent objects, actions, and ideas in such a way that it appeals to our physical senses. Typically, it is thought that imagery makes use of specific words that create visual representation of ideas in our minds. In the Girl story, we can imagine that there is a mother who gives specific rules to her daughter about what to do and what not to do. Imagery can make us imagine the picture in our mind to have a deep meaning of this story and the purpose behind Jamaica’s words. On the other hand, Jamaica uses her strong point of view, she seems to be a traditional mother who gives her daughter rules to follow in her life, she also wants to show the feminine perspectives in this life. She used an allusion in her story, an allusion is a figure of speech that refers to a well-known story, event, person, or object to make a contrast in the readers’ mind. She uses that in the way she describes the feminist rules in her story. She concludes in her story the final thought about female perspective in our society.

Jamaica wants to deliver a big message to her readers regarding female perspective. She uses a first person “you” to show that every girl reads her story will have to follow this rule, especially if those rules come from her mom, because daughters in general needs to follow mom words. Usually, the mother knows what is good and what is bad for her daughter, but for an older daughter it will be difficult to follow these rules because older age girls want to be independent. Jamaica story author doesn’t use periods, only one sentence ending punctuation. There are only two ‘voices’ (characters) in Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘Girl’: a mother and her daughter. By not ending the sentences with periods, the rules sound stronger.

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The short piece ‘Girl,’ by Jamaica Kincaid, is all about the expectations and roles of women, as well as young girls becoming women, in a male-controlled society. If the piece were named ‘Boy,’ the expectations and instructions would be completely different, and I suspect, less harsh and careful. Because in our society males have more authority than females, girl sometimes should follow her mom words. Jamaica Kincaid’s story consists of one long sentence that contains a set of instructions that an unnamed individual is delivering to another person. Irregularly there is an italicized passage, apparently, the listener’s response. Some of the instructions relate to the practical aspects of life, such as laundry, while others relate to moral and ethical dimensions, such as attending church.

Numerous dimensions are often explored in the same sentence, and one instruction may have multiple clarifications. The speaker begins with the laundry instructions regarding when to wash white and colored clothes. In the same sentence, they order the listener not to walk bare-headed in the hot sun. While the latter is a practical suggestion, it also takes their desire that the listener behave rationally. As the sentence moves along, the reader gains the impression that the listener is a girl, as the speaker states, ‘don’t squat down to play marble you are not a boy, you know.’ The speaker also tells her how to walk and how dress appropriately. “on Sundays try to walk like a lady, this is how to turn-up a dress to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming”. In a similar way, we understand that the speaker is the listener’s mother, as she refers to the father telling the daughter how to firm her shirt and pants. These practical instructions also lead into those pertaining to relations with men in general. “this is how to behave in the presence of men who don’t know you very well, and this way they won’t recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming”.” this is how to love a man, and if this doesn’t work there are other ways”. Jamaica Kincaid’s represents a mother advising her daughter in how to become a woman.

The short story “Girl” is a list of apparently random advices from the mother to her daughter. In the format of the story, it is one long sentence with the advice separated by semi-colons. Overall, the narrator presents her thoughts and feelings as they pass through her mind.

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The Main Ideas Of The Short Story “Girl” By Jamaica Kincaid. (2021, August 06). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 9, 2023, from
“The Main Ideas Of The Short Story “Girl” By Jamaica Kincaid.” Edubirdie, 06 Aug. 2021,
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