Let's take two views of "Girl" here. Despite the brevity of the story, Kinkaid creates a variety of interpretive opportunities and we can consider more than one way to understand the intentions behind the mother's advice and the daughter's reception of that advice.
If we take an abstract view of the message(s) being conveyed from mother to daughter in "Girl," we might characterize the mother's concerns, advice and wisdom as mainly pointing to how a to be a respectable woman in a specific social/cultural world. There is an implicit accompanying message here as well, which is that in order to be a respectable woman one has to be competent and knowledgeable as well.
According to the mother, to be a respectable woman one must be knowledgeable of social mores and also know how to remain clean via practices of strategy and restraint. On the most basic level, this is a message about values. The mother's lessons might be read as a list of virtues, implied and coded, perhaps, but all pointedly moral...
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