Growing up we always heard that mothers are always right, mothers know best, and we should listen to our mothers. In Girl by Jamaica Kincaid, overbearing motherly guidance is shown by using a strict tone, how-to layout, and giving out information from a domineering mother to her daughter on how a girl should act like a woman. This advice, followed with a strict tone, underline the mothers experience as a reserved woman and her biased expertise on what it takes to be a good woman in society.
Jamaica Kincaid wrote Girl in one long run on sentence. She starts off with the sentence. Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap, and ends with, you to mean to say that after all, you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker wont let near the bread?(677). Between the beginning to the end of the story, we see many bits of advice given to the girl that covers different areas such as how to work, how to dress, how to set the table for certain occasions, and so on.
With Kincaid taking on this style of writing it makes it very effective in getting the point across. In replace of the periods she uses commas and semicolons to divide each sentence up. Each sentence feels like a lecture, but it is from a mother who is piling up information with no pauses or allowing her daughter to take in the information taught.
In order to get her point across each word seems stern, critical, and commanding, leaving no room for the daughter to say anything in response.
The narrator says, on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming.(676). The mother is so caught up in everything she feels like the world around her daughter will shape her into being something that isnt the ideal woman or what her mother feels is the opposite of an appropriate woman.
The slut you are so bent on becoming is constantly thrown around throughout the story showing to us a slut-shaming mentality from the mother. The mother is so caught up in her own thoughts that she doesnt realize that societys definition of the word slut, like other things, isnt the same as it was back in the day. The daughters mother failure to commit to the newer way of society is highlighted by her stern, critical voice and bias mentality. By using a wide variety of compelling statements with a passive-aggressive approach, we can see that the mother has no faith in her daughters means to handle herself in an appropriate way. Kincaids use of voice lets readers foresee and recognize rigid restrictions placed in the narrators daughter and women of the past.
Kincaid stresses the mothers old ways through the how-to format. Kincaid writes, this is how you sweep a whole house; this is how you sweep a yard; this is how you set a table for tea; this is how you set a table for dinner; this is how you set the table for a dinner with a guest; this is how you behave in the presence of men who dont know you very well(676).
The daughter is advised on how to do day to day duties such as laundry, cooking, sewing, ironing shirts of the men in the household, and how to set a table for different meals. This is how you is repeated throughout half the story, underlining the teaching aspects of the story. One can infer that the mother is giving advice that she was raised on; the type of advice that was important and contributed to a successful woman in her time. Carrying out day to day chores was mainly a womans duty in the house, that is why the mother thinks the daughter needs to know how to go about doing them. Times have changed and the mother fails to realize that nowadays both men and women share these responsibilities.
From generation to generation advice is usually passed down. Reading each word that the mother is saying, it feels as if she grew up in an environment that called for strict, closed-minded ways that in return compelled her to raise her daughter by the same standards. The mother couldve been brought up with disciplinary gender roles, making her believe that this is how a woman should act and this is how it is going to stay for generations. This explains her pursuit to place this information in her daughters mind.
Girl by Jamaica Kincaid is a short story that every child should read. The instructional format and the tone help us to understand the story better. The two techniques make every word understandable to our own experiences with our parents. The mothers past on how she was brought up led her to bias attitude of what it takes to be the ideal woman in society. This negative mindset shapes her view of her daughters choices, in a way that seems like she needed to give this advice and judgment to her daughter. We can see that times have changed from the past and present on how women should act. So, that saying that mothers are always right or they know everything isnt always true.