I have to pick a topic and write about it the story I have to use is "Girl" by Jamaica Kinkaid, any suggestions.I basically have to come up with topic or an issue that I got from the story... and...

I have to pick a topic and write about it the story I have to use is "Girl" by Jamaica Kinkaid, any suggestions.

I basically have to come up with topic or an issue that I got from the story... and base it on situations that are occurring in everyday life.

Asked on by shimosley

2 Answers

dstuva's profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Two websites, in particular, on enotes can help you with topics that relate to Kincaid's "Girl."

"Mothers and Daughters" and "Culture Clash" are named as themes by enotes.  While the mother-daughter relationship in "Girl" is probably negatively exaggerated, at least in comparison to most households, the issues raised are certainly common.  The same can be said of culture clash between generations.

The enotes site on topics for further study lists five possibilities.  I'll paste them below for you:

  1. Find some examples of poems that are considered dramatic monologues. Examples include ‘‘My Last Duchess’’ by Robert Browning and ‘‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’’ by T.S. Eliot. Do you think "Girl'' is more like a poem or like a story?
  2. Investigate the history of African slaves and their descendants in the Caribbean. Compare your findings with what you know about the descendants of slaves in the United States.
  3. Research the training young women received in the United States in the 1950s, in popular magazines, advice columns, and how-to books. How do the expectations and responsibilities of these young women compare with those of the daughter in ‘‘Girl’’? How do they compare with the expectations and responsibilities of young American women today?
  4. Read Kincaid's first novel, Annie John. Some critics have suggested that the novel is in some ways an expanded version of "Girl." Do you agree?
  5. Find recipes for some of the food mentioned in "Girl'' and attempt to prepare them using ingredients available locally. What might be learned about a group of people based on what they eat? What could outsiders guess about you from studying the foods you eat?

In addition to the above, you could simply study what critics and teachers have written about the techniques used in the story.  Its form is highly unusual.  There should be much to write about concerning literary criticism on "Girl."

jmj616's profile pic

jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

"Girl," by Jamaica Kincaid, is not really a story, but rather a long series of instructions and advice that a mother gives to her daughter.

Some of the instructions are about very simple matters of housekeeping:

Wash the white clothes on Monday and put them on the stone heap; wash the color clothes on Tuesday and put them on the clothesline to dry;

this is how to make a bread pudding; this is how to make doukona; this is how to make pepper pot; this is how to make a good medicine for a cold;

Other pieces of advice are on a more serious note: the mother suspects that the daughter is becoming a "slut," and she wants to prevent this.

on Sundays try to walk like a lady and not like the slut you are so bent on becoming

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 is how to behave in the presence of men who don't know you very well, and this way they won't recognize immediately the slut I have warned you against becoming

For your paper, perhaps you could discuss the kind of instructions and advice that your mother gives to you.  What does she stress: education, cleanliness, morality, money?  How does she phrase her instructions?  Do you agree with them?  Would you give the same advice to your daughters?