Short story analysis of Girl by Jamaica Kincaid
Have you ever wished that someone had given you a guide on how live the right way? Jamaica Kincaid does just that in her short story, Girl. The narrative is presented as a set of life instructions to a girl by her mother to live properly in Antigua in the 1980’s. While the setting of the story is not expressly stated by the author in the narrative, the reader is able to understand the culture for which Girl was written. Jamaica Kincaid seems to be the passive narrator, receiving the instructions from her mother on how to live in their present social setting. The mother figure focuses on two main categories in her guidance, social manners and domesticity. First, guidance is given for a child’s stage in life, on household chores such as washing clothes and cooking fish (Kincaid 118). This indicates a social status that is probably not upper class aristocracy. Next is the progression to social manners for a young girl, how to behave at Sunday school, how to eat properly at the dinner table, and how not to talk to “wharf-rat boys” (Kincaid 118). This means the receiver is someone who would have some amount of social class and not necessarily destitute lower class. As the chronological progression advances, the homemaking skills of a young woman as opposed to the child stage are highlighted, as seen in guidance on how to sew buttons, hem dresses, and how to iron clothes (Kincaid 118). The next sets of social manners are taught for a young woman; how to behave when she likes someone and how to politely behave with people she doesn’t like (Kincaid 118). This level of social behavior would be important in finding an appropriate husband of equal status while not offending unsuitable partners. The next guidance on homemaking is aimed towards a proper woman, setting a table for meals, how to entertain guests, and how to behave in front male acquaintances (Kincaid 118). Finally, the mother expresses through metaphors how to...
Cited: Kincaid, Jamaica. “Girl.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Alison Booth and Kelly Mays. New York: Norton, 2011. 118-119. Print.
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