Study Guide

Girl What's Up With the Title?

By Jamaica Kincaid

What's Up With the Title?

It's kind of ironic that Kincaid titles her prose-poem "Girl" and then gives Girl only two lines in the whole thing. So why not call it "Mother's advice," or "Memories of An Antiguan Childhood," or "Sheesh, Mom, Stop Bossing Me Around Already?"

By titling the text "Girl," Kincaid tells us 1) that this story isn't just about her own personal experiences; it's about some kind of universal experience of girlhood; and 2) that the girl is the important one. Even though Mom does most of the talking, she wants us to think more about how Girl feels about what Mom says and what it means to grow up as a girl in the culture that Mom is implicitly describing.

But there's more. Bear with us here, because it might sound like a stretch—but we think that the title also makes us ask, why girl? Why not boy? What's the difference between a girl and a boy, and a girl and a woman?