How is this ideal girl defined in the story Girl?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Girl is a short story by Jamaica Kincaid.  The two characters of the story are a young girl from Antigua and the that girl's mother.  The mother does almost all the "talking" in the litany of things the girl should and shouldn't do, and how she should do them.  The girl expresses concern and confusion in very brief interjections.

In the mother's litany, she indicates that an ideal girl always behaves properly when in public; learns how to take care of a household; learns how to correct mistakes; is seen as virtuous and religious.  More specifically to the region, the girl that is ideal in Antigua knows how to mix her cultures, by making traditional foods and such, but also by behaving properly in European church. 

This story suggests that society, including mothers, place sexist and unrealistic expectations on young girls, not allowing them to develop as strong individuals.

sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a brief tag to the other response, the mother sounds very harsh because we hear her voice through the consciousness of her daughter. It sounds shrill and demeaning, and students generally recoil from it--or more accurately, daughters recoil from it.  However, that voice of "do this, don't do that" is also the voice of a mother who loves her daughter and wants her to grow up to be what women are supposed to be in that culture.  So on the one hand, the story criticizes the culture that demands such behaviors and attributes of women of color (for this is a post colonial story, and color is important), but on the other hand it shows what a mother who loves her daughter might do to ensure her daughter's success in such a culture.