Girl By Jamaica Kincaid Essay

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A Woman’s Worth "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid reveals the overwhelming pressure on young women to look and act in certain ways in order to please men and society. Through the use of literary elements such as style, tone, and characterization, Jamaica Kincaid is able to place the reader into the shoes of a young Caribbean girl as her mother describes to her what she must do in order to protect her reputation and grow into a respectable woman. While there are many cultural topics specific to Caribbean living throughout the story, these themes are universal to the expectations woman and young girls feel. At first glance this short story may not appear to be a short story at all. Barely one page in length, “Girl” does not use the traditional structure …show more content…
The listing of rules and instructions by the main voice, that we can assume to be the mother, is repetitive. Midway through the story we read, “This is how you sweep a corner; this is how you sweep a whole house; this is how you sweep a yard; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like too much…” and it continues on in that same fashion for some time (483). The repetition of “this is how” by the main voice creates a rhythm that flows throughout the story and emphasizes that these are instructions and not suggestions to the young girl who is listening. There is no discussion as to what should and is to be done, simply an understanding that this is the way things are and this is how it is accomplished. Through these instructions the mother is hoping to prepare her daughter for life as a woman within this culture, but also to prepare her for her eventual marriage, as that seems to be the ultimate …show more content…
The word ‘slut’ is repeated three times throughout the story as the mother warns the daughter not to become one. The mother breaks up the listing of instructions on how to clean and behave with warnings such as, “This is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming…” (483). Kincaid makes it clear through this repetition of the word “slut” that a good reputation is crucial for a woman. The mother recognizes how women must behave within society in order to be perceived as a woman worthy of marriage. The mother seems to also allude to the fact that her daughter will lose her value as a potential wife if she is perceived by men as a

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