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The Usage Of Force Essay

1554 words - 7 pages

The short story “Girl”, written by Jamaica Kincaid, is a mother’s compilation of instructions and guidance to her daughter. The mother believes her offer of practical and helpful advice will assist her daughter in becoming a proper woman and establishing her respectable status in society. Posed against the mother’s sincere concern is Sir Walter’s superficial affection to his daughters in the novel Persuasion, written by Jane Austen. Due to his detailed attention for appearance and social rank, Sir Walter has been negligent to his daughter’ interests and fails to fulfill his responsibility as a father. Throughout both literary works, different method of persuasion reveals the difference in family dynamics and the outcomes of persuasion on the main characters.
The mother’s genuine care for her daughter is displayed in her instructions. She decides to transfer her domestic knowledge and life experience to her daughter in order to shape her daughter’s behavior from a young age. She gives out detailed instructions on how to “sew a button, how to hem a dress when the hem coming down, how to iron a khaki shirt so that it does not have a crease.” Although hemming a dress, sewing, and ironing are not difficult chores, the mother emphasizes their importance since she understands that appearance and clothing reflect a woman’s character. Because these domestic skills are measurement for women’s competence and self-worth, the daughter’s inability to take care of her clothes will indicate her neglect in household skills and lack of orderliness. In order to protect her daughter from society’s ridicule, the mother trains her daughter to display good domestic skills and neatness through her appearance, presenting herself as a disciplined and skillful woman. This will help the daughter showcase her respectability and earn a good reputation in the community.
In contrast to the mother’s genuine concern, Sir Walter is indifferent to his children. He is described as “remarkably handsome in his youth; and, at fifty-four, was still a very fine man.” Because his beauty is a “blessing,” Sir Walter has been very attentive to his appearance. His regard for looks affects his attitudes towards his daughters. He favors Elizabeth because she inherits his beauty and shares similar personality. To him, beauty is what defines a person. He judges a person by appearance rather than personal merits. Sir Walter’s focus on looks allows him to see Anne as “thin and faded” but nothing else beyond her appearance. Anne’s plain and aging look has made her less desirable to associate with. This leads to his lack of effort to develop intimacy with Anne and his negligence to her interests. Sir Walter’s preoccupation with appearance puts him in contrast with the mother, who repeatedly orders her daughter to obey her directions—“walk like a lady on Sundays and don’t sing benna in Sunday school”, or how to “behave in the presence of men who she does not know very well”, with the hope that this...

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