In Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” a mother thrusts the traditional feminine role and the danger of female sexuality upon her young daughter. The central topics of gender roles in a family structure are evident, and the expression of the feminine sexuality is examined throughout the story. Readers are to look into the mother’s beliefs on the importance of serving your husband and remaining sexually conservative and content. There is even a sense of importance for food and clothes in the text, which provides evidence to the central claim of being content with the traditional feminine lifestyle. Finally, the relationship between a mother and daughter is also a major focus in this text.
The portrayal of gender in this text shows the husband as the prime breadwinner of the household while the wife stays home to clean the house and tend for the children. This is clearly our traditional family lifestyle of a household. Now although this can be considered traditional, we clearly see this lifestyle outdated in our twenty-first century society today. The text is demonstrated to show the young daughter her place in society, and teach the young girl the everyday tasks she will need to know in order to run a household smoothly and successfully. It is also clear that the mother’s life reflects all of these ideals that a husband should be the one working and the wife is to be happy and content by taking great pride and satisfaction in the caring for her home. The mother also has strong view on the behavior for a women in society and throughout the story gives many warning on her daughters behavior such as “on Sundays try and walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming”. (Kincaid 56) This is a clear statement from the mother that gives us an idea of the mother’s values with female sexuality.
Kincaid lists numerous stereotypical roles of traditional feminine women in her short text. These roles that Kincaid describes in the text may seem to come across as sexist and seem to limit what women can and cannot do. “This is how you iron your father’s khaki pants so that they don’t have a crease; this is how you grow okra-far from the house…this is how you sweep a corner; this is how you sweep a whole house; this is how you sweep a yard”. (Kincaid 56) These lines from the text consist of just some of the few roles, which Kincaid identifies, in her text. Although ironing, preparing foods, and housecleaning are traditional feminine roles and may seem insignificant, it must never be forgotten that these roles cannot be ignored. With that being said, the readers can gain a sense of importance for the feminine role of women.
The text shows readers that there must be a balance between man and women in a relationship, and ultimately in a traditional family. For example, a male, by tradition, will bring in income for his family from his job, while the female will make the home a livable and clean environment for the family. Without the male, there will be...