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by Jamaica Kincaid

Girl Theme of Women and Femininity

Femininity is hard work. We don't just mean the makeup and the high heels. We mean cleaning the house. The whole house. And looking dainty while doing it. In "Girl," being a woman seems to be synonymous with keeping a house (and its inhabitants) clean. What happens if you don't achieve that goal? Social suicide, basically. No wonder this list of things you need to do to keep your lady card gets passed down from one generation to another in the form of "motherly" advice.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. What would happen if Girl didn't do all the things her mom tells her to do in the text? Why would this fate be so bad?
  2. What is the difference between a "slut" and a "lady" in this text? Are there any other types of women, or is this it?
  3. Why is Mom teaching Girl all of the things she says in "Girl"? Are there any other things that Girl is supposed to learn?

Chew on This

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

In "Girl," femininity revolves around maintaining the home.

Kincaid suggests that both the girl and her mom are restricted by the rules of femininity.

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