Jamaica Kincaid Girl

1082 Words5 Pages

“You are not a boy, you know” (Kincaid, 2003, pp. 321) Is one of the most defining sentences of Kincaid’s short story ‘Girl’. This short story, written in 1978, describes a mother prescribing certain behaviours to her daughter. In this monologue the mother dictates what to do and what not to do. She dictates how to clean, how to set the table, how to make food, and how to behave. The mother tells her daughter what she should become, and what she shouldn’t become. (Kincaid, 2003) ‘Girl’ is a story about stereotypically gendered behaviour. However, it also emphasizes how these feminine behaviours are passed on to further generations. Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘Girl’ (2003) emphasizes how gendered behaviours and sociocultural aspects are passed on through …show more content…

For example, the mother says ‘this is how to make a bread pudding’ (Kincaid, 2003, pp. 321) without explaining any further steps. The subsequent instructions without elaboration in the story suggest that the mother’s monologue isn’t set in real time. One would expect the mother to elaborate her instructions with further steps or comments. This may suggest that it is the girl’s recount of her mother’s instructions over time. Remembering her mother’s comments is a way for the girl adhere to them. The mother’s ignorance of any contradiction is a way for the girl to tell herself that she shouldn’t contest these gendered norms and stick to them. Meanwhile, the mother’s remarks about the ‘slut’ the girl is becoming can be interpreted as a way for the girl to warn herself to follow the mother’s instructions to uphold a good reputation. By recounting and remembering her mother’s comments, it is clear that the girl tries to obey them. The girl has grown up with these gendered behaviours and instructions and has become used to them. By force of habit, there is a big chance that the girl will pass these behaviours and norms to her own children. In this way, the story ‘Girl’ by Jamaica Kincaid (2003) emphasizes how family maintains gendered behaviour and sociocultural …show more content…

By bestowing gendered behaviour upon future generations, freedom is limited by parents. Although this story seems to be a monologue held by a mother to her daughter, it can be interpreted as the girl’s recount of her mothers instructions over time. This recount strengthens the idea that she should follow these restrictive prescribed behaviours. By force of habit, the daughter will bestow these values and behaviours upon future generations as well, since she was taught them when she was young and has gotten used to them. This cycle strengthens and maintains sociocultural issues and gendered behaviour. The girl will continue this behaviour towards her future daughter, since she is ‘not a boy, you know’. (Kincaid, 2003, pp.

Open Document