In "Girl", why did the mother keep on using the word "slut" when she could have used another word?

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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There are two general reasons why the mother in this story might keep using this offensive word. First, biographical reasons: this story is based on Kincaid's experience, and so the language may match her personal and community experience.
Second, though, pounding away on that same word over and over has a stylistic function: the language becomes a way of showing that the mother and daughter aren't really communicating, but are caught up in images of what they should be, what a woman might be, and the worst that could happen to her. In other words, the mother isn't listening, but is letting her fear speak.

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