Professor Cynthia Villegas
3 July 2013
Understanding the real ‘Girl’
Do stories need characters? Characters are essential in stories. They can be either a protagonist or antagonist. Characters are fictional and created from the author’s imagination, yet the characters may be influenced from real life experiences of the author himself/herself or other people. In her book “Girl”, Jamaica Kincaid made this fact abundantly clear. Jamaica Kincaid’s biography shows that the characters in Girl are influenced by the experiences she has had in life.
Kincaid was born in 1949 in St. John’s Antigua, an island in the West Indies (Jamaica). Once ruled by Great Britain until 1981, Antigua is heavily influenced by the Brit’s social norm. “This is how you set a table for tea; this is how you set a table for dinner; on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not the slut you are so bent on becoming” (Girl 232), is the monologue of a mother’s voice being replayed in the daughter’s head from Jamaica Kincaid’s short story “Girl”. Kincaid’s life as a child growing up in Antigua clearly reflects in her writing.
Mothers are overbearing of their children. “Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry;” (Girl 232). As the oldest with three younger brothers, Kincaid at age 17 was sent off to America to work as an au pair to help with the financial burdens of the family and to study nursing (Jamaica). Kincaid refused to correspond with her mother or send money home. The relentless demand of a child can be a traumatic scar to the brain.
In society, the expectations are in black and white. No mother should allow her daughter to be a slut; the table must be set for the proper occasion is just a minuscule of the list. In order for a mother to enforce these teachings she may be too overbearing which can lead to an unhealthy relationship. Request to wash clothes on certain days and...
Cited: “Jamaica Kincaid.” VG/Voices from the Gap. Regents of the University of Minnesota, 2009. Web. 3 Dec. 2013
Kincaid, Jamaica. “Girl.” The Seagull Reader: Stories 2nd ed. Ed. Joseph Kelly. New York: W.W. Norton. 2008. 232. Print
Please join StudyMode to read the full document