Girl Essay

1338 words - 6 pages

Jamaica Kincaid

The short story “Girl,” like many of Kincaid’s books, deals with the experience of being young and female in a poor country. Kincaid’s complicated relationship with her mother comes out in the mother-daughter dynamic in the story. This story also shows the difficult labors of women and the limitations put on girls. History has taught us that these limitations have been passed down generation after generation and this story shows the extreme complexity of our relationships between mothers and daughters.
To understand the story of “Girl”, you will have to understand the past and biography of the writer. According to my research, Kincaid was born to Elaine Potter Richardson in 1949 in Antigua, once a British country in the West Indies. Kincaid’s relationship with her mother was less than ideal. Kincaid describes her mother as a literate woman who struggled against her poor circumstances, eventually feeling bitterness toward her children because of all her problems. Kincaid was forced to drop out of school when she was 12 and help raise her brothers because he stepfather was sick and unable to work. Even though she enjoyed school and was very good in it, her mother felt she would be better served at home. At the age of 17, she was then forced to move to New York State in the U.S. to work as an au pair for a wealthy family to help support her family in Antigua. Once Kincaid was in New York, she refused to send money nor respond to letters from her mother due to the resentment she felt for her mother forcing her to leave school that she loved and then forced to leave the only home she knew and go to a foreign country. However, the move turned out to be a wonderful thing in her life because she not only was able to make a life in New York, she met an columnist with The New Yorker who helped to get her work published. Since, she has published many books and they were quite successful and appreciated by many of all ages and backgrounds.
In the story a“mother” figure gives advice to a child or a “daughter” figure how to be a better woman by knowing how to be domesticated. Throughout the list of do’s and don’ts she is interrupted twice by the girl to ask a question or defend herself. That is the constant rhythm in the story. I presume it is a mother because she dispenses much practical and helpful advice that will help the girl keep a house of her own some day. Such as, how to do laundry, sewing, ironing, cooking, sweeping, and washing. This is something a mother usually teaches you assuming she is the one raising you. The mother also instructs her daughter on how to live a fulfilling life, like “how to smile to someone you like completely”. She offers sympathy, such as when she talks about the relationships her daughter will one day have with men, warning that men and women sometimes “bully” each other and how giving up on a man that doesn’t work, she doesn’t have to feel bad about it. The mother also tells the girl how to behave...

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