Girl (Jamaica Kincaid)

"Girl," by Jamaica Kincaid, is a poem—er, a story... er... what is this thing? Either way, it's about a mother's advice to her daughter. And nothing is sugarcoated.

American LiteratureAll American Literature
AuthorKincaid - Jamaica Kincaid
Early 20th-Century LiteratureEarly 20th-Century American Literature
FormPoem
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureAmerican Literature
ThemesSexuality and Sexual Identity
Society and Class
Tradition and Customs
Women and Femininity

Transcript

00:26

Take the mother and daughter

00:27

. . .in Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl. The mom barely comes up for air. . .

00:33

. . .as she hurls a series of instructions. . .

00:35

. . .as well as a few less-than-motherly comments, at her almost silent daughter.

00:41

So, we just have to ask. . .

00:43

. . .why does this mother come down so hard on her kid?

00:47

Is she just being a good mom. . .

00:48

. . .trying to prepare her daughter for the rocky road she faces?

00:53

Could be. . .Jamaica Kincaid was raised by a single mom in Antigua<<An-tee-guh>>. . .

00:58

. . .a patriarchal, British colony that was challenging for black women.

01:03

Mom’s got a lot to cover . . .

01:04

. . . and maybe she's just not the sugar-coating type.

01:08

Or maybe she’s barking all those orders . .

01:10

. . .to make sure her daughter doesn’t end up like dear old mom.

01:14

She talks about being bullied by men. . .

01:16

. . .and how to get rid of an unwanted baby.

01:19

Maybe her own life has been so difficult. . .

01:21

. . .that she’ll do anything to stop her child from repeating her mistakes.

01:26

Or maybe we should consider the opposite.

01:29

Perhaps this woman is one heck of a bad mother. . .

01:31

. . .who loves getting on her daughter’s case.

01:34

It could be she’s just a mean and miserable person. . .

01:36

. . .rattling off a to-do list with no regard for her daughter’s feelings.

01:49

That nurturing mom gene has been known to take a hike once in a while.

01:53

So, what’s your take? Does the Mother come down hard on Girl to

01:56

get her ready for an inevitably tough life. . .

01:58

. . .to keep her from ending up in her shoes. . .

02:01

. . .or because she’s just a nag who likes ordering her kid around?

02:06

Shmoop amongst yourselves.