A Young Girl's Precarious Position In Society

Superior Essays
"Girl" and "A&P": A Young Girl's Precarious Position in Society
The place of a woman in society is usually defined by everyone besides the woman herself. Even her fellow women believe that they should establish the direction of the woman's life, and this imposition of gender roles begins from when the woman is a young girl. This oppressive mentality of society that a young girl is exposed to is discerned in the short stories "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid and in "A&P" by John Updike. Both of these short stories share similar themes of how society looks down upon the young girls for their immaturity and naivety, similar characterization of the young girls in their respective storylines as being unable to retaliate against the unfairness shown towards
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"Girl" is a story that takes place in a traditional patriarchal society, as noted when the mother states, "this is how to behave in the presence of men who don't know you very well …. They won't recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming" (Kincaid 105). In the culture of the story setting, women are expected to be submissive to men, but at the same time they are expected to be independent enough to look after themselves should it come down to it. "A&P" plays with the theme by drawing attention to the disturbance in the usual flow of occurrences in the store with the arrival of the rebellious Queenie and her compatriots. The girls in "A&P" may have come from more affluent families than the girl in "Girl," but they also face discrimination when confronted by the manager's words. Sammy himself discriminates against the girls when he subconsciously thinks that Queenie becomes "sore, now that she remembers her place," (Updike 95) after she listens to Lengel's …show more content…
The mother in Kincaid's "Girl" is a symbol of the women who influence and direct the lives of young girls and other women. The store manager Lengel in Updike's "A&P" stands for the part of society that criticizes women for attempting to break social norms. Both characters believe this criticism is not applicable to men. Both of these characters and their symbolism are used as references to the people who try to show their superiority by oppressing women. In conclusion, Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl" and John Updike's "A&P" both serve to be short stories that exemplify the innocence of young girls and the experiences they face in the journey of becoming a woman. The expectations of adhering to the existing social structure they face from both their fellow women and from society is relentless. In spite of these social barriers, the girls try to maintain their naïve outlook on the world while they grow and learn from the challenges thrown at them by society and the collective ideal of ladylike

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