by Jamaica Kincaid
How It All Goes Down
Kincaid's "Girl" takes no more than a few minutes to read. Don't blink, or you'll miss this plot summary:
A mother is giving her daughter advice at spitfire speed. We’re pretty sure she doesn’t even breathe through the whole thing. She tells Girl about life, cooking, cleaning, men, and keeping up her reputation with one admonishment after another. Even though place is not mentioned, the rhythm of the words and the specifics of the girl's life make it clear that the story takes place in the West Indies.
The daughter only butts in to mom’s stream-o-advice twice: once to defend herself, and again to ask a question that leads to the end of the text. Kind of weird since the text is named after her, don't you think? This mother-daughter tilt-a-whirl stops just as suddenly as it started, and we're left with more questions than before we got on Kincaid’s rollercoaster ride. (And a serious feeling of relief that all our mom makes us do is practice piano and make dinner once in a while.)