From a young age, our interactions with our parents play an instrumental role in how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. The short story “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid exhibits the relationship between an Antiguan mother and her daughter in a patriarchal society where the list of rules and regulations for women is exhaustive and almost never-ending. By analyzing the unique and often tense dynamic between the mother and daughter, “Girl” showcases the direct influence mothers have on their children, and how traditional and patriarchal customs can influence that relationship. The main themes are represented by the subjects the mother spends the most time on as well as the overall tone of the piece and how it relates to the mother-daughter
Zora Neale Hurston and Jamaica Kincaid, both black women writers, give advice to their potential readers. Each writer comes from a different background and time period, yet both writers offer advice for every woman who reads their stories. The stories “Drenched in Light” by Hurston and “Girl” by Kincaid provides advice for the woman who needs to understand how to behave and protect her reputation. The reason for this article is to think about mother/daughter connections in Jamaica Kincaid’s “girl” Zora Neale Hurston’s “drenched In Light,” and Alice Walker’s “everyday use” through a Womanist hypothetical focal point with respect to personality, portrayals in the public arena, and reason.
In “Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid, we have a mother conveying important life advice to her daughter in order for her to adapt to cultural customs and most important to learn the rules of social behavior. Her mother's advice is not only intentionally told in order for her to become the proper antiguan woman she believes in raising, but is also told to criticize her actions and everyday doings. Her mother makes it very clear, in order to live a proper antiguan life, there are many rules that one must follow. With deeper interpretation of Kincaid’s work we come to the realization that her overall message suggests the idea that women as a whole should be domestic and should behave a certain way in our society in order to avoid being viewed as a promiscuous woman.
In Jamaica Kincaid’s short story “Girl,” the narration of a mother lecturing her daughter with sharp, commanding diction and unusual syntax, both affect the evolution of a scornful tone, that her daughter’s behavior will eventually lead her to a life of promiscuity that will affect the way people perceive her and respect her within her social circle. As well as the fact that it emphasizes expectations for young women to conform to a certain feminine ideal of domesticity as a social norm during this time and the danger of female sexuality.
In Jamaica Kincaid essay “On Seeing England for the First Time” conveys the contradiction of a young Antiguan women’s bitterness in her perspectives of learning about England versus exactly experiencing England. Furthermore, Kincaid presents the speaker’s voice as consistently bitter from the beginning by using subjective and sarcastic diction and convincing syntax.
Kincaid, Jamaica.“Girl”. In The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. 541-542. Print.
Elaine Potter Richardson, more famously known as Jamaica Kincaid, is recognized for her writings that suggest depictions of relationships between families, mainly between a mother and daughter, and her birth place, Antigua, an island located in the West Indies. She is also familiarized with Afrocentrism and feminist point of views. Kincaid’s work is filled heavily with visual imagery that produces a mental picture in readers that helps them connect stronger to the reading. An example of this really shines through in her short story piece, “Girl.” This short story describes the life of a lower class woman living in the West Indies, and also incorporates thick detailing between the relationship between her and her mother. Jamaica Kincaid structures the story as if her mother is speaking to her. She writes broad, but straight to the point, allowing readers to imagine to picture her experience. Kincaid uses visual imagery and repetition consistently throughout “Girl” to reveal the theme and tone of the story; conflictual affair between a mother and daughter.
In Jamaica Kincaid’s story, Girl, a mother is talking to her daughter about all the proper things she must do to be considered a good girl to her family and to the public, and when she grows up, a proper lady. She must follow the rules that are given to her by her own mother and by society. The mother also teaches the daughter how to act when things don’t go her way. She is told that along with being a proper lady, she must also be able to get what she wants and be independent. This story was written in the late 1970’s and gender roles, for women, back then were not being “followed” because women wanted equal opportunities (Women In the Workforce). “Gender stereotypes are beliefs regarding the traits and behavioral characteristics given to individuals on the basis of their gender” (Deuhr). This essay will discuss the gender roles that were given to women in the story, during the late 70’s, and in today’s society.
Throughout the reading “Upon Seeing England for the First Time”, Jamaica Kincaid describes how she first learned about England and described England as a “very special jewel” (Kincaid 3). She also describes how England influences her entire life from a child. As she describes events about her that occurred throughout her life, her view starts to shift and the liking of England starts turning toward hatred. Kincaid describes England as the everything in her life. Wherever she goes, what she wears, how she eats is all taught to her, based off the English culture. Thus, Kincaid’s view starts to shift in the reading from liking England to despising England. Therefore, to explain her hatred about England, Kincaid utilizes literary devices such as
Yet an explicit affirmation of this hatred is not necessary; the reader is quick to appreciate the irony and utter absurdity of her situation and that of Antigua. Kincaid makes us want to condemn the imperialistic attitudes which fostered this indoctrination of English values and also the supposition that this culture was somehow inherently superior to any other. By putting her readers in her own position, and by appealing to their sense of the absurd, Kincaid is very effectively able to elicit sympathy.
If one wants an interesting but controversial read that is intellectually stimulating, A Small Place is perfect. Critics both praise and condemn her text. To better understand Kincaid and her essay, one should analyze the massive effects of British rule on Antigua, her intended audience, and the childhood she experienced; specifically, the Postcolonial, Reader Response, and Biographical lenses.
Clearly, Jamaica Kincaid’s story "Girl" represents a piece of history steeped in formalities and strictness. Yet, Kincaid’s tale of a mother-daughter everyday conversation suggests two things. Firstly, it would seem that
Women began as the first victims of gender inequality. Gender issues began when women were expected to clean and take care of their families. Chores were also gender oriented; children that were girls were expected to help wash dishes and learn to cook. Women also did not work at all. The very few women who did work were often school teachers, but they did nothing more than that. A woman’s main priority was to care for her family and take care of her home. This expectation of women changed over time once women began to work. In today’s society it is more common for a woman to work, but she is still expected to take on the motherly role of the house. This role