"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 Literature||All American Literature|
|Author||Kincaid - Jamaica Kincaid|
|Early 20th-Century Literature||Early 20th-Century American Literature|
|Themes||Sexuality and Sexual Identity|
Society and Class
Tradition and Customs
Women and Femininity
Take the mother and daughter
. . .in Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl. The mom barely comes up for air. . .
. . .as she hurls a series of instructions. . .
. . .as well as a few less-than-motherly comments, at her almost silent daughter.
So, we just have to ask. . .
. . .why does this mother come down so hard on her kid?
Is she just being a good mom. . .
. . .trying to prepare her daughter for the rocky road she faces?
Could be. . .Jamaica Kincaid was raised by a single mom in Antigua<<An-tee-guh>>. . .
. . .a patriarchal, British colony that was challenging for black women.
Mom’s got a lot to cover . . .
. . . and maybe she's just not the sugar-coating type.
Or maybe she’s barking all those orders . .
. . .to make sure her daughter doesn’t end up like dear old mom.
She talks about being bullied by men. . .
. . .and how to get rid of an unwanted baby.
Maybe her own life has been so difficult. . .
. . .that she’ll do anything to stop her child from repeating her mistakes.
Or maybe we should consider the opposite.
Perhaps this woman is one heck of a bad mother. . .
. . .who loves getting on her daughter’s case.
It could be she’s just a mean and miserable person. . .
. . .rattling off a to-do list with no regard for her daughter’s feelings.
That nurturing mom gene has been known to take a hike once in a while.
So, what’s your take? Does the Mother come down hard on Girl to
get her ready for an inevitably tough life. . .
. . .to keep her from ending up in her shoes. . .
. . .or because she’s just a nag who likes ordering her kid around?
Shmoop amongst yourselves.