Curiostiy In The Little Convent Girl

1599 words - 6 pages

When people use expressions such as “curiosity killed the cat,” they usually don’t mean it literally. However this is a theme of Grace King’s short story, “The Little Convent Girl”. The Little Convent Girl is curious to find her mother, and see the outside world because she was never able to while living in the convent. However, because she is so used to her own lifestyle, it becomes difficult for her to accept and adapt to the American society. The Little Convent Girl’s curiosity (more than just about her mother) and her inability to adapt to the information that her curiosity reveals ultimately causes her to commit suicide.
Being raised in a convent, the Little Convent Girl knows almost nothing of the outside world. There is a very strong influence of strict Catholicism in her life because of it. She grew up with very strict rules that were almost completely different than the “rules” of American society. For example, “On Friday, she fasted rigidly, and she never began to eat, or finished without a little Latin movement of the lips and a sign of the cross. And always at six o’clock of the evening she remembered that angelus, although there was no church bell to remind her of it” (King, 2-3). Even when she is out in the real world, she still follows the rules and procedures set by the convent because she is completely ignorant to the general American’s lifestyle. These procedures show how strictly she was raised, and how devout she is to God. The general population doesn’t live life the way she does.
Also, she has become a bit of a perfectionist, in the eyes of the convent at least. She was always concerned about her sins, and while she was on the ship, traveling from Cincinnati to New Orleans, it would often make rough stops at ports. “Every time she thought it was shipwreck, death, judgement, purgatory, and her sins! Her sins”(King, 3). The Little Convent Girl seems to believe that she can not even be near sin at all or she will jeopardize her relationship with God. If she manages to sin, she will immediately pray for His forgiveness. In order to prevent herself from sinning, she becomes very submissive. “She could not do anything of herself, she had to be initiated into everything by someone else”(King, 1). She has been taught to equate submission with goodness. She wouldn’t even speak unless spoken to because it was a rule at the convent. She believes that this is the correct way to live life, however, it is very different from the lives the American people live.
When she was an infant, the Little Convent Girl’s father took her away from her mother in New Orleans and placed her in the convent in Cincinnati. She was never allowed any communication at all with her mother, and that was a rule her father had set. She actually never saw him much, either, except for vacations and holidays, so it seems like he is trying to keep her secluded from society as long as possible. He also seems ashamed of her mother and has the need to keep her race...

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