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by Jamaica Kincaid

Tradition and Customs Theme

Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof said it right when he told us that tradition is how we keep our balance. It helps us know how to navigate the world. It makes things easier. It can, of course, also be stifling, outdated, and just plain dumb. In "Girl," Mom teaches Girl tradition for many reasons. Tradition helps her to become a proper lady. It also keeps bad luck from finding her. Isn't an endless to-do list a small price to pay for the warm embrace of tradition?

Questions About Tradition and Customs

  1. Why does food feature so much as part of tradition in "Girl?" What other cultural elements help pass tradition along?
  2. Why types of traditions and culture do Mom teach Girl in the text? Why do you think she chose those?
  3. How does Obeah influence the lives of Mom and Girl in the text? What is the relationship of Obeah to going to church on Sundays?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

British tradition is just as important as African tradition in "Girl." Both are important elements of Girl's cultural heritage.

Food is the most important part of tradition in the text, because it is connected with the lessons of femininity that Mom is passing along.

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