What is the point of view in Kincaid's "Girl"?



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mshurn's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #1)

"Girl" is a unique piece of literature. It is a story, but there is no setting, description, or exposition. Characters are not named or identified. It is not a play or a poem, but there is essentially one long speech, a monolog, with two interruptions. The point of view is first person narrator in that almost all of the story comes to the reader as the voice of the mother speaking to her daughter. Only twice does the daughter's voice break in to make brief comments. She is merely the listener to whom the mother speaks. By the end of the story, however, the reader has a clear understanding of the mother's harsh character and sympathy for the daughter who must suffer through her mother's instructions and frequently cruel observations.

tresvivace's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #2)

I would like to qualify Mshum's answer.  She is right, of course, that there is no narrative presentation of setting, description, or exposition, but the implied setting of this story is very important.  Clearly, the advice given to the daughter suggests the implied island setting as well as its values and routines.  Critics suggest that the mother actually symbolizes the repressive British Colonialism, and that interpretation also depends on the understanding of the island setting.  Students doing a close reading of this story should go through it and cite specific clauses that do suggest its setting.  Another possibility to consider is that instead of a monologue, the story could be considered the girl's interior monologue.  Would the mother actually say all these directives at once? It is possible, of course, but it's also possible that the girl hears all this advice in her head as she reviews things her mother has told her and other things she's observed in her mother's behavior and puts it all together.


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