How would you describe girl based on what she says in the story "Girl"? What kind of a person is she?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Jamaica Kincaid's short story, "Girl ," the eponymous girl is relentlessly ordered, instructed, and insulted. She is told "how [to] iron [her] father's khaki shirt," how to "sweep a yard," and how to "set a table for tea," and she is told to "walk like a lady...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In Jamaica Kincaid's short story, "Girl," the eponymous girl is relentlessly ordered, instructed, and insulted. She is told "how [to] iron [her] father's khaki shirt," how to "sweep a yard," and how to "set a table for tea," and she is told to "walk like a lady and not like the slut [she is] so bent on becoming." The girl is called a "slut" three times throughout the text. As a result of this barrage of criticisms and insults, we might infer that the girl is browbeaten, oppressed, and probably quite sad. Indeed, she doesn't seem to be given much opportunity to play or otherwise enjoy herself, and she is never praised or complimented. She is treated more like a slave than a child.

It is also implied throughout the text that the girl might have something of a rebellious, independent edge to her character. She is reprimanded for "singing benna in Sunday school," and for squatting like a boy when she plays marbles. The girl also twice challenges the voice which reprimands her, once to insist that she does not sing benna in Sunday school, and once to ask what to do should the baker not let her feel the bread to check whether it's fresh. However, the fact that we only hear two brief interjections from the girl, disrupting what is otherwise a long monologue from the voice which reprimands her, is in itself an indication that whatever spirit of defiance or independence exists in the girl, it is overwhelmed by the relentless instructions and criticisms that she receives.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team