Assignment Sample Paper on Girl
The story ‘Girl’ by Kincaid depicts a different sense of empowerment on the part of a girl. The story is a fictitious description of the characteristics that a girl is supposed to possess and those that one should not be associated with. From the story’s conclusion, it can be argued that the mother, in advising her daughter, aims at developing the kind of person who would be capable of having her way in whatever situation she finds herself in. From the conclusion of the story, it appears that empowerment can be associated with the creation of an outstanding personality, capable of convincing others to make things go her way. Through appropriate courteous actions, the girl is taught how to ensure she is at peace with the society. The essay examines the objective of empowerment versus oppression in the story, from the perspective of a combination of the two.
Besides acting courteous, the mother also talks to her girl about how to conduct herself in terms of dressing, tidiness and taking care of her sexuality. The stress on not becoming a prostitute clearly portrays morality as one of the features that brings forth respect to a woman. Furthermore, by educating her girl on how to treat men and how to be treated by a man places the girl in her social position in the society. Through actions and words, the mother helps to mould her girl into a good personality. While the mother stresses the importance of various features in the lifestyle of a girl, the many instructions and the emphasis placed upon some of them may be perceived as exploitation. It is very rare to be comfortable with repeated instructions.
The life of a girl as depicted through the story is one characterized by an intensely busy schedule where one is expected to be so many things and to perform so many roles at the same time. While the girl is taught how to love a man and to employ different strategies in the same, she is not taught how she is supposed to be loved by the man. She has to know how to sew, cook, even spitting is under certain conditions. On the contrary, she is not told about her privileges and rights in the same society. This evidently portrays an imbalance of power between the men and the women in the society, with the men being portrayed as the holders of ultimate power while the women are portrayed to be under male domination. The roles and behaviors in the society are gendered, making it difficult to deviate from the norm. Any such deviation is observed to be contrary to law and expectations and is thus treated with derision.
The theme of power inequality is also well explored through the story. The mother persistently gives instructions to the daughter who responds only in very few instances. The responses of the girl are also limited to single line questions which are easily dismissed by the mother based on the instructions previously given. This clearly shows that the mother is in a higher position than the daughter and that her word is final and cannot be ignored or countered. The power play leads to judgment and presumptuous statements on the side of the mother. In such cases, suppressed individuals are likely to develop emotional passivity (Griffith 1252). For instance, she insists that her daughter should not become a prostitute. Not only does she emphasize this through repetition but also goes further to assert that the daughter has decided to become a prostitute. In spite of the instructions, the mother still teaches her child how to prevent others from noticing the prostitute she will definitely become. This epitomizes the inevitability of her moral decay contrary to expectations based on the instructions given by the mother.
Furthermore, the mother also emphasizes the importance of not singing benna during Sunday school. This also depicts judgment since the mother does not attend Sunday school with her daughter and yet insists on reminding her not to sing. The daughter even goes ahead to correct her mother saying, “But I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school (Kincaid 1146), probably due to her negative perception about the emphasis on. This clearly shows that the mother has an already pre-conceived idea about her daughter’s personality. However, the girl does not react negatively to suppression but takes all the advice with a light head. She does not question except on the issue of pressing bread to confirm if it is good. Because of this, it is difficult to predict exactly whether the story portrays oppression or not. This could imply one of two things. The first is that the behavioral code described by the mother is the norm and the girl has no cause for questioning or responding to some of the accusations. Alternatively, it could mean that the girl is suppressing her expressive responses to oppression. In the latter case, the girl would have difficulty in maintaining positive relationships with other girls as well as with boys.
Based on the story outline, it can be concluded that the story not only presents a society that values the girl child by her conduct but also one in which suppression of feelings has been accepted as a means to dealing with oppression (Tackman and Srivastava 2). Moreover, the society prides itself in strong personalities that cannot be intimidated as indicated by the mother’s position when the mother asks “you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won’t allow near the bread” (Kincaid 1978).
Griffith, Kati L. The power of a presumption: California as a laboratory for unauthorized immigrant workers’ rights. Journal of the University of California, Davis, vol. 50 (2017): 1279- 1322.
Kincaid, Jamaica. “Girl.” In Rereading America: Cultural contexts for critical thinking and writing 7th Ed. Colombo, Gary, Cullen, Robert and Lisle, Bonie (Eds.). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 421-‐423.
Tackman, Allison M. and Srivastava, Sanjay. Social responses to expressive suppression: The role of personality judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, (2016).