Compare and contrast "Joy" by Chekhov and "Girl" by Kincaid.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Although both of these short stories have a one-word title, there is little comparison between them. "Girl" by Kincaid features a non-stop monologue of a mother to her daughter, with her daughter only responding a couple of times. There is no plot or description, and the reader is left to deduce what they can from the way that the mother speaks and the kind of things she says to her daughter. Mostly, this takes the form of advice as the mother advises her daughter on what a "good girl" should and shouldn't do, and prepares her to take the role of a married woman.

"Joy," by contrast, has a much more traditional plot structure, with a beginning, middle and end and clearly defined setting and characters. This short story concerns Mitya Kuldarov and his massive joy at appearing in the newspaper, even when the irony of the story is that the reason behind his publicity is nothing to take joy in whatsoever, as is indicated by his poor parents:

The papa turned pale. The mamma glanced at the holy image and crossed herself.

The response of the protagonist's parents is compared with the response of Mitya, who, having shared this "joyful" news with his parents, ran into the street, "joyful and triumphant." The one comparison we can identify between these two short stories is that they deal with the relationship between parents and their children. In "Girl," it is clear that the mother thinks very well of her daughter and invests much in her education, such as she can offer, to keep her from being a "slut," as is shown by the ironical, object lesson of a quote:

Always squeeze bread to make sure it’s fresh; but what if the baker won’t let me feel the bread?; you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of woman who the baker won’t let near the bread?

She quickly reinforces her objectives. The parents in "Joy" on the other hand seem to have some basis to think the worst of their son, as their shocked and fearful response to his news indicates.

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