If you look back 200 years, women enjoyed few of the legal, social, or political rights that are now taken for granted. They could not vote, could not sue or be sued, could not testify in court, had extremely limited control over personal property after marriage, were rarely granted legal custody of their children in cases of divorce, and were not allowed to go to institutions of higher education. Women were expected to remain subservient to their fathers and husbands. Their occupational choices were also extremely limited.
Middle- and upper-class women generally remained home, caring for their children and running the household. Lower-class women often did work outside the home, but usually as poorly-paid domestic servants or laborers in factories and mills. This was everyday life for this time and most females accepted there fate. As females moved through there lives, aspects of this repression began to leaked in to literary work. This is evident in a short story written by Jamaica Kincaid’s.
The story was called “Girl”.
In the short story the Mother tries to show her daughter, there are limitations of being a woman. That being a girl is much different then being a boy. Explaining what she should do to be accepted into society. The things that she must do as a way of preparing her future obligations and responsibilities in the society that at the time was ruled by men. The reader gets the impression that the advice that the mother gives her daughter has been passed down from many generations of women.
It seems that this advice has enabled their daughters to endure hardships and to avoid making the same mistakes over and over, A clear example is when the mother tells the daughter, “planting okra far from the house because it attracts red ants”. There were some women in the past that learned this lesson the hard way. Most likely having the house invaded by the ants, soon after included it in the lessons to be passed down to then future generations.
As the mother continues she wants the girl to know how to act, and the only way she sees fit to do is command the girl to do specific tasks and making it seem as if there is no other way in which to perform them. The speaker repeatedly tells the girl that she “mustn’t” do this and “don’t” do that. Through she repeatedly uses negative direction, the strict limits that the girl must follow in order to develop into a respectable woman must be learned. Kincaid uses harshly honest when the mother tells the girl not to be a “slut” multiple times.
The mother is concerned that the girl will grow up without values or morals, but “Girl” also shows the hostility and family dissension that the females suffer. Even though it seemed very simple the stories had a strange twist. Like many short stories of its time there was a hidden meanings. At first glance there dose not seem to be a power struggle between the two. At first it seems that the daughter is completely powerless. She cannot do anything but listen to her mother speak. Furthermore, she has no power to refuse what her mother is saying. Noticeably , the daughter only speaks up twice in the whole story.
Her voice was only heard when she said, “But I don ‘t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school” and when she stated, “But what if the baker won ‘t let me feel the bread” other than when she spoke these lines, the daughter serves but a mere listener in the story. The absence of the daughter ‘s voice may be seen as a lack of power. In her relationship with her daughter, the mother seems to be the one with all the power. She has complete control over the situation. She dictates upon her daughter, what the daughter must do. For instance , one of the many orders she give her daughter is, 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. ” This statement speaks not only of how to do certain things but how to act as well. In the early days dresses that were not neat and a certain length were considered very provocative. By the mother saying this it was insulting and an order at the same time. It makes it obvious that the mother does not think highly of her daughter. Everything points to the Mother being in control, but what made the Mother lay out how the daughter should live and do?
Maybe this is where the daughter has all the power she is ultimately in charge of her destiny. In the two sentences she demonstrates her rebellious side. She is reluctant to change her ways. She questions the outcomes and don’t want to accept the outcome. In the end she will be the one who has the power to shape her future. No matter how much the mother tries to control her future she will only be a conscious on the daughters shoulder. “Girl” between a mother and daughter. It seems like a simple conversation between Mother and Daughter.
Feminists made a distinctive contribution to the advancement of the female sex, by highlighting women’s specific experiences such as the family, drawing attention to how unfair workplace was. By looking at history through women’s eyes they slowly changed how the world viewed the female sex. Literature will often reflect the cultural assumptions and attitudes of its period, and that of course includes attitudes towards women: their status, their roles, their expectations. Though we have made great advancements and responsibilities are shared now a days. Literature will forever be changed by time and society.
Cite this Short Story “Girl”
Short Story “Girl”. (2018, Jul 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/short-story-girl/